Predictions: Big East Week 8

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
9:00
AM ET
I now see why picking games in the Big East is so hard. You really never know what is going to happen. I was 2-2 thanks to Pitt and USF losses, bringing my season total to 35-10. What does Week 8 hold in store?

Rutgers (5-1) at Louisville (2-4), 8 p.m., Friday, ESPN2. This one is setting up to be a low-scoring game, featuring two teams with solid defenses but so-so offenses. The difference here for Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights should be able to put major pressure on the quarterback against a shaky offensive line. They also are the best in the league at creating turnovers, while Louisville is at minus-4 in turnover margin this season. True freshman Gary Nova has gone on the road and won already for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights become bowl eligible in a slight upset (Louisville is favored by 2). Rutgers 20, Louisville 17.

No. 15 West Virginia (5-1) at Syracuse (4-2), 8 p.m., Friday, ESPN. You know the Mountaineers are going to be looking for a measure of redemption after losing to Syracuse last season. The Orange pass defense has been shaky all season, and now it faces one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. The Orange should get help from the return of Olando Fisher, and the general health of the defense -- coach Doug Marrone says this is the healthiest his team has been all season. Geno Smith is much better in this offense, and he and his teammates are finding a good rhythm, so it is going to be much harder to rattle him into making mistakes. This is my pick for Big East game of the week, so stay tuned for my video analysis later this afternoon. West Virginia 38, Syracuse 20.

Cincinnati (5-1) at USF (4-2), noon, Saturday, Big East Network. The Bulls are in desperate need of a win, and now they face one of the most improved teams in the Big East. But I think USF has a shot here for a few reasons: (1) This is one of the best offensive lines the Bearcats have faced this season, so they are going to have a harder time putting pressure on the quarterback (USF has given up only seven sacks all season); (2) USF has been much better running the ball (No. 1 in the league), and that will provide a huge challenge for the No. 1 run defense in the Big East. Darrell Scott is a load to take down, and averages 6.2 yards a carry. Playing at home, coupled with the increased sense of urgency, also helps. An astute USF reader pointed out I have been terrible with my USF picks (3-3), so we will see how this one turns out. USF 27, Cincinnati 24.

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