The final week of the regular season approaches, so does that mean there is one more week of crazy unpredictability in store for the Big East? I went 3-1 last week after UConn pulled the stunner over Rutgers, bringing the season total up to 44-22. For those looking for off-the-wall picks, you will be disappointed once again.
No. 23 West Virginia at USF, 8 p.m., ESPN. We are all well aware of the RayJay "jinx" on the Mountaineers, a team without any players who know how it feels to win in Tampa. We said the same thing about Louisville last week, and look at how that turned out for the Bulls. This is a defeated team right now, one that simply does not know how to win close games. Quarterback B.J. Daniels is questionable again, and the USF secondary is banged up at quite the inopportune time. I think the Bulls will be able to get pressure on Geno Smith, but I don't think they have enough healthy bodies in the back end to slow down Tavon Austin or Stedman Bailey. USF will fight hard, but come up short again. West Virginia 30, USF 21.
UConn at Cincinnati, noon, ESPN. It's the battle of the dual-quarterback systems in Cincinnati, with at least a share of the Big East title on the line for the Bearcats and bowl eligibility on the line for the Huskies. UConn certainly turned in an impressive performance against Rutgers, but the Huskies were also helped when the Scarlet Knights turned the ball over six times. Cincinnati figured out it is better when Jordan Luallen is in the game, and Isaiah Pead is touching the ball as much as possible. Indeed, the battle on the ground is going to be huge in this one. The Huskies have held six of their 11 opponents below 100 yards and have held three teams to 20 yards or less. Cincinnati leads the nation in tackles for loss (8.5 per game). If West Virginia wins, does that mean Cincinnati comes out flat? I doubt it. This is a team that went 4-8 last season and is hungry for a BCS berth. Cincinnati has the advantage at the skill positions and will find a way to win. Cincinnati 28, UConn 17.
Syracuse at Pitt, noon, ESPN2. It's the battle for bowl eligibility between two of the most inconsistent teams in the Big East. Who wants to get to 6-6 more? Is it Syracuse, a team that has lost four straight after a 5-2 start? Or is it Pitt, a team that has failed to live up to high expectations? Tino Sunseri is coming off one of his worst games, and running back Zach Brown is questionable for the Panthers. Luckily for them, they have a much-improved defense that will be facing a Syracuse team that has forgotten how to score. In the last four losses, Syracuse has scored an average of 15 points a game. The Panthers haven't exactly lit up the scoreboard, either, but they've lost their last two games by a total of four points. Sunseri rebounds and leads Pitt to the win. Pitt 20, Syracuse 13.