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Thursday, September 8, 2011
Big East predictions: Week 2

By Andrea Adelson

I wish I could say I was as perfect as the Big East in Week 1. I called for a Notre Dame win, and USF proved me wrong. The Bulls had the biggest win on the slate, 23-20 over the Irish. What are the chances for another undefeated week for the Big East? I think it will be much tougher. But maybe I will be proven wrong again.

On to the picks.

FIU at Louisville, 7 p.m., Friday, ESPN. This is a danger game for the Cardinals, with the in-state rival Kentucky looming next week. FIU is not a patsy anymore and has a veteran team that has come close to pulling off some major upsets. But I think the Cardinals' defense will do just enough to slow down T.Y. Hilton and pull out a close one at home. Louisville 24, FIU 20.

Rutgers at North Carolina, 12:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3.The Scarlet Knights posted a 48-0 win in Week 1 against NC Central, but this is a vastly different team from North Carolina. The Tar Heels are going to give the Rutgers all they can handle up front. I am not sure the Scarlet Knights will have an answer for North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, who had two sacks in the opener. North Carolina 27, Rutgers 17.

Maine at Pitt, 1 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3. The Panthers had a much better performance in the second half than they did in the first last week. Coach Todd Graham is going to be looking for better execution for the entire game, specifically from quarterback Tino Sunseri. Pitt 45, Maine 6.

Norfolk State at West Virginia, 1 p.m., ESPN3. West Virginia is just hoping to play a full four quarters this week after a weather-shortened win over Marshall. This will be a good opportunity to get the running game better established after a dismal performance in the opener. West Virginia 55, Norfolk State 7.

Cincinnati at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2. This is a huge game for the Bearcats, who would love nothing more than to get more eyes on them after going 4-8 last season. Winning on the road in a hostile environment would do the trick. Tennessee showed a few weaknesses last week, most notably its run game. But the Vols are probably going to try to pass on a Bearcats defense that needs to prove it is vastly better in that area. Cincinnati has good balance with Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead, and its explosive offense should do just enough to get the upset win. Cincinnati 30, Tennessee 27.

Rhode Island at Syracuse, 4:30 p.m., Saturday, ESPN3. The Orange need to have more consistency out of their offense and defense after an uneven performance in Week 1. Playing an FCS opponent should help before they go on the road to play USC. Syracuse 40, Rhode Island 10.

Ball State at USF, 7 p.m., ESPN3.The Bulls have to beware of the let down factor, after getting a big win over Notre Dame and jumping into the AP Top 25. Ball State had an upset win over Indiana last week, and is now running more of an up-tempo spread offense, similar to what Notre Dame ran last week. But the Bulls are much more talented and should hold off the MAC challenge. USF 35, Ball State 14.

UConn at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m., ESPN3.This is a critical test for the three-headed quarterback system Connecticut plans to use. I have never been in favor of shifting quarterbacks in and out. Meanwhile, D.J. Shoemate is expected to return to the run game with Lyle McCombs. They could see lots of Chris Marve, one of the best tacklers in the SEC. Last year's game was a wild 40-21 win for UConn. I think this is going to be more low-scoring game, and Vanderbilt will do just enough to stop Connecticut on offense to win. Vanderbilt 20, Connecticut 17.