Thursday, November 3, 2011
Predictions: Big East Week 10
By Andrea Adelson
Louisville got me again. Two weeks in a row I pick the Cardinals to lose, and two weeks in a row they win. That was my only loss of the short week as I went 2-1. Through nine weeks, I am 37-14 and hoping to do better with a full slate for Week 10.
Louisville at No. 24 West Virginia, noon, Big East Network. This is your classic battle of offense versus defense. So which side will prevail? The Cardinals have played well in their two straight wins over Rutgers and Syracuse. The run game has worked; the defense has not given up the big play and forced turnovers, too. The good news for Louisville is that West Virginia has had problems stopping the run and has not generated much of a pass rush this season. The bad news -- the Cardinals have lost four straight to the Mountaineers and are going to be faced with a serious challenge in stopping the West Virginia passing game. Louisville likes to bring the blitz, but if it is picked up well in this game, then the Cardinals run the risk of leaving playmakers like Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey running loose. Remember earlier in the year T.Y. Hilton burned this defense for more than 200 yards passing. Louisville is much better today than it was in Week 2. But the big play can be had on this unit. West Virginia does just enough to win. West Virginia 27, Louisville 20.
Syracuse at UConn, noon, ESPNU. The Coach P Bowl brings Paul Pasqualoni face-to-face with the team he coached from 1991-2004. But Pasqualoni has downplayed any and all mention of that this week as he focuses on trying to get his team better. UConn needs to win three of its final four games to become bowl eligible, and has got to find ways to get Johnny McEntee to be more effective leading the offense. If there is one area that Syracuse should be able to exploit it is the UConn secondary, which has been bad without leader Blidi Wreh-Wilson. It is uncertain whether Wreh-Wilson will be back this week. The key, of course, is for Ryan Nassib to be more on target than he was last week against Louisville in which he missed plenty of open receivers. UConn is 3-0 at home in this series, but I think the Orange bounce back. Syracuse 30, UConn 17.
Cincinnati at Pitt, 7 p.m., ESPNU. Which Tino Sunseri is going to show up on Saturday? The Sunseri that passed for 38 yards against Utah or the Sunseri that passed for 419 yards against UConn? It is hard to imagine Pitt being the same team without Ray Graham. Zach Brown is perfectly capable, but Graham brought a dynamic that is hard to replicate. Cincinnati is the best rushing defense in the Big East, and has been effective at putting pressure on the quarterback, so I think the Panthers are going to have a hard time having the same success on offense this week as they had last week. The Bearcats have allowed just four rushing touchdowns all season. I think Cincinnati has the type of offense that can exploit some of the problems in the Pitt secondary, especially with safety Jason Hendricks out for the season. Cincinnati 30, Pitt 21.
USF at Rutgers, 7 p.m., ESPN3. Both teams are desperate for a win -- USF has lost three straight, Rutgers has lost two straight. The Bulls just need to put an entire game together, while Rutgers has to cut down on the mistakes that have plagued it lately. You can bet USF is going to try and force Gary Nova into making the same mistakes he has made in the two straight losses but it's not as if the USF defense has been an unstoppable force. Still, it is tough to imagine USF dropping to 0-4 in conference with all the talent it has. The Bulls will find a way to win. USF 24, Rutgers 20.