- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Saturday is proving day for Connecticut and Temple -- and, by extension, the Big East.
The Huskies and the Owls kick off the first two of the conference's eight matchups with the ACC this season, against NC State and Maryland, respectively.
While matchups between the two conferences may be viewed nationally as nothing more than Big Six afterthoughts battling for bragging rights, the fact that the ACC has three former Big East schools -- with Pitt and Syracuse on the way next season -- cannot be overlooked.
For Temple coach Steve Addazio, whose team routed the Terrapins last season, Saturday is his first real chance to carry the Big East's flag after leaving the Mid-American Conference.
"Well I mean there's no question that you're going into Week 2 and you're playing a BCS conference team, and obviously one from the ACC," the second-year Owls coach said. "It's a big challenge for us, but one we're looking forward to, and obviously going into that game with a lot of pride as a new member of the Big East conference. We wanna play well for a lot of reasons, and certainly one of them would be in fact to represent the conference."
UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni is a little more seasoned in this routine, starting his second season of his second stint as a Big East coach.
The Huskies play back-to-back ACC teams, traveling to Maryland next weekend, and Pasqualoni, the former Syracuse head man, has chosen to overlook the potential implications his team's performances could have on the perception of the Big East.
"We have so much to get ready for, there's so much to focus on, that to be honest with you, I don't know, I wouldn't waste my time or my energy on that stuff," Pasqualoni said. "My feeling is each week you try to concentrate on your opponent, and that's what we'll do. I don't ever remember saying to these kids: One conference against another, or any of that other stuff. We try to look at the team, the players that they have on the team and what they're doing, and try to figure out a way to be competitive against them, and that's our approach and that's not gonna change."
The Big East went 4-4 against the ACC last season, not including Temple's win over Maryland. The most notable of last season's contests came on the biggest stage, with current Big 12 member West Virginia routing ACC champion Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl.
The two conferences will clash eight times during this regular season, with at least two bowl meetings likely on tap.
Seven of those interconference matchups will take place this month, with three coming next week, as Pitt hosts Virginia Tech and Louisville hosts North Carolina, in addition to the Huskies' clash with former coach Randy Edsall at Maryland.