Thursday, September 1, 2011
Big East predictions: Week 1
By Andrea Adelson
Game day is finally here, so you know what that means. Prediction time! With four games against FCS opponents and two more against non-AQs, this should be a good week for the Big East.
Murray State at Louisville, Thursday, 6 p.m. ESPNU. We get our first glimpse at the baby Cardinals, who have 21 true or redshirt freshmen on their two-deep headed into this game, and are going to be without two big contributors in center Mario Benavides and defensive end B.J. Butler. This is going to be a test for the Cardinals and their green secondary because Murray State likes to throw. Pat Forde called an upset, but I am going with the Cardinals. Louisville 38, Murray State 17.
NC Central at Rutgers, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ESPN3. We get to see new-look Rutgers against an overmatched opponent, so we may not have many answers headed into next week's big game against North Carolina. Still, everyone should be looking forward to seeing what Savon Huggins can do, and how the revamped defense looks with so many players in new positions. Rutgers 48, NC Central 10.
Wake Forest at Syracuse, Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN3. The first of several ACC-Big East showdowns comes to you live from the Carrier Dome, where Syracuse has not exactly enjoyed much of a home-field advantage of late. The Orange haven't had much success against the ACC, either. But Doug Marrone is prepared to usher in a new era. The offense should be able to get a few points on the board. Wake Forest running back Josh Harris will get his yards, but Syracuse will do just enough to contain him and the Demon Deacons. Syracuse 21, Wake Forest 17.
Austin Peay at Cincinnati, Saturday, 7 p.m. ESPN3. The Bearcats begin Year 2 under Butch Jones with high hopes of getting back to a bowl game. The defense needs to make significant improvement for that to happen. This will be a good warm up for Cincinnati before taking on Tennessee the following weak. Austin Peay is not the best FCS team, coming off a 2-9 season from a year ago. Cincinnati has outscored its FCS opponents by a 240-20 margin since 2006. Cincinnati 48, Austin Peay 17.
Fordham at UConn, Saturday, noon, ESPN3. This game was supposed to be played tonight but had to be moved to Saturday because Rentschler Field is being used as a staging area to help victims of Hurricane Irene. Still no word on when or where it will be played. When the game finally kicks off, we will finally know who will start at quarterback for the Huskies. That should not make too much of a difference in this one. UConn 38, Fordham 3.
Buffalo at Pitt, Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN3. The Panthers unveil their brand new no-huddle offense and 3-4 defense against Buffalo, one of the worst teams in the country last season. The Bulls have former Cincinnati backup Chazz Anderson starting at quarterback and are coached by former Cincinnati assistant Jeff Quinn. The Pitt D should be prepared for this offense, considering it goes against the no huddle every day. Buffalo is starting three freshmen on the offensive line, and faces a steep challenge against one of the most talented defensive fronts in the Big East. Pitt 45, Buffalo 13.
USF at No. 16 Notre Dame, Saturday, 3:30 p.m, NBC. Both Skip Holtz and Brian Kelly are going into Year 2 at their respective programs, with high hopes for each. The Bulls are 12-19 against ranked opponents, but have won their fair share of big games. I think USF will give Notre Dame all it can handle because of its team speed. But in the end, I think the much more experienced Notre Dame lines have a major advantage and are going to be able to control the game. That will make the difference. Notre Dame 24, USF 20.
Marshall at West Virginia, Sunday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN. After much anticipation, we get to see the debut of Dana Holgorsen as a head coach and offensive coordinator in Morgantown. How will Geno Smith and company fare against Marshall, a team that has never beaten WVU? Marshall is starting a true freshman at quarterback, and that could be very bad news for the Herd with Bruce Irvin set to prove he can be an everydown player. It's not going to be close this year. West Virginia 55, Marshall 17.