- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
Feeling more somber than snarky this morning in the wake of the Jasper Howard news. So this will be a pretty straightforward review and preview. Let's look back on Week 7:
Team of the week: Cincinnati. Naturally. The Bearcats took out South Florida 34-17 despite losing Tony Pike for most of the second half and climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the initial BCS standings. We have ourselves a bona fide national title contender in the Big East for the first time since 2007.
Biggest play: Zach Collaros' 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at South Florida. Remember that Cincinnati had third-and-11 at the time and led only 17-10. The Raymond James Stadium crowd was on its feet. A stop there by the Bulls' defense could have changed momentum. Instead, Collaros -- with some excellent blocking leading the way -- changed the game.
Best call: With West Virginia holding onto a 10-7 lead over Marshall in the fourth quarter, Mountaineers offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen went for the kill and got it with Geno Smith's 33-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett. The coaching staff showed confidence in loosening the reins off the true freshman quarterback in the second half as he filled in for the injured Jarrett Brown, and Smith rewarded them for it.
Big Man on Campus (Offense): Pitt running back Dion Lewis was the difference in the Panthers' 24-17 win at Rutgers, rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. The true freshman is now second in the nation in rushing.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): West Virginia's Brandon Hogan had a fumble recovery and an interception to help the Mountaineers' defense shut down Marshall and prevent an upset.
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Cincinnati's Jake Rogers averaged 45 yards per punt on seven attempts, including a 53-yarder, and he hit two of three field goals at South Florida.
Now let's look forward to Week 8 (games listed in descending order of importance and interest):
South Florida (5-1, 1-1 Big East) at No. 20 Pittsburgh (6-1, 3-0): This would have been a huge game had the Bulls beaten Cincinnati. Now it's more like a survival game for South Florida, while Pitt looks to go 4-0 in the Big East and keep contending for the BCS bid. (ESPN 360, Noon ET)
Connecticut (4-2, 1-1) at No. 22 West Virginia (5-1, 1-0): UConn is dealing with the Jasper Howard tragedy. Expect some pregame respects for the late cornerback. West Virginia may be without the injured Brown. (ESPNU, Noon ET)
Louisville (2-4, 0-2) at No. 5 Cincinnati (6-0, 2-0): The Cardinals have been a thorn in Cincinnati's side the past several years and pushed the Bearcats last year in the Keg o' Nails rivalry. Even if Pike can't play, Cincinnati should beat Louisville handily if it wants to be considered a true BCS title contender. (ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Rutgers (4-2, 0-2) at Army (3-4): Rutgers needs another breather after losing in its return to conference play. But don't count out Army in the battle of Knights both scarlet and black. Army did beat Vanderbilt at home this year. (ESPN2 8 p.m. ET Friday)
Akron (1-5) at Syracuse (2-4, 0-2): It's a revenge game for Syracuse, which looks to atone for last year's embarrassing loss at home to the Zips. Shouldn't be a problem, since Akron is 0-5 against FBS competition this season.