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What to watch in the Big East, Week 12

1. The fight for the Gator Bowl: If UConn wins at Notre Dame, there's a very good chance the Irish will finish 6-6. That would guarantee that the Gator Bowl takes a Big East team and will open up another postseason spot for a league team -- which the Huskies might be able to claim. All of the Big East should be rooting for Connecticut this week, not that it wasn't already doing so.

2. UConn's running game against the Notre Dame defense: Navy ran for 348 yards against the Irish. Pitt piled up 193 yards on the ground versus the Domers. UConn's offense begins with its massive offensive line and revolves around the powerful 1-2 punch of Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon. The Irish defensive front can be pushed around and often has. Running the ball not only helps the Huskies move the chains but also keeps Notre Dame's offense off the field. Speaking of which ...

3. Jimmy Clausen vs. UConn's secondary: When we last saw the Huskies, they were getting steamrolled for 711 total yards and 480 passing yards by Cincinnati. Perhaps the bye week gave Randy Edsall time to shore up the coverage problems. It better have, because if not, Clausen, Michael Floyd and Golden Tate could play pitch and catch all day.

4. Zach Frazer vs. his old team: Charlie Weis didn't think Frazer was good enough to play quarterback for Notre Dame. Ironically, Frazer can now help bring an end to Weis' tenure in South Bend. The UConn quarterback and ex-Notre Dame transfer must keep his emotions in check and stay away from his previous interception problems.

5. The battle for New York: As Syracuse has fallen, Rutgers has risen. Doug Marrone has made no secret of his desire to gain back the recruiting ground that the Orange surrendered to the Scarlet Knights during the Greg Robinson years. One way for Marrone to accomplish that is by beating Rutgers on the field in what should develop into a pretty spirited rivalry in the next few years. But Syracuse is at a major disadvantage this year.

6. Blitzing Paulus: Did you see how confused B.J. Daniels and his offensive line were against Rutgers last Thursday night? Daniels is a redshirt freshman with more college experience than Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus. So how will Paulus handle the designed-to-confuse pressure schemes that Greg Schiano's defensive staff will fire at him? Paulus has 14 interceptions, more than any other Big East quarterback. Rutgers is tied for second nationally in takeaways. This could get ugly.

7. Kragthorpe's last stand?: Louisville is technically still alive for a bowl bid, which may be Steve Kragthorpe's only chance of keeping his job past this year. But to get to the postseason, the Cardinals will have to win at South Florida, something they've never done. I wouldn't expect an announcement on Kragthorpe's status next week if Louisville loses, but it wouldn't be totally surprising either.

8. South Florida's defensive line vs. Louisville's O-line: The Cardinals' offensive line has been outmatched at times this season, just plain brutal in other stretches. It got overpowered often by Syracuse last week. So this should be a great matchup for the Bulls' defensive front, which played valiantly at Rutgers despite having to spend way too much time on the field. I'd be stunned if South Florida doesn't have at least three or four sacks in this game.

9. B.J. Daniels: Let's face it: Daniels had an awful game at Rutgers, and at times this season he has failed to keep his composure on the sidelines. Louisville's defense has been playing well the last couple of weeks but still has trouble getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. Daniels ought to be able to make some plays, even if his favorite receiver -- Carlton Mitchell -- is still out of the lineup with an ankle injury.