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Thursday, September 27, 2012
What to watch in the Big East: Week 5

By Matt Fortuna

Here's what's to look out for during Saturday's slim slate:

1. Conference pride again on the line: The Big East is coming off an 0-2 mark last weekend against MAC opponents and gets another shot against the conference this weekend. But the Big East does boast a 3-2 record against the ACC. Can it keep that mark above .500? Cincinnati will try to against Virginia Tech before USF hosts No. 4 FSU in a tough test.

2. UConn building off last week's second half: Chandler Whitmer easily had his best day, numbers-wise, in last week's loss, completing 28 of 44 passes for 333 yards and three scores. Much of that production came with the Huskies mounting a comeback from 17 points down, and Whitmer did turn the ball over twice and was sacked six times. The offense will look to limit such mistakes while taking another step forward this week against Buffalo.

Munchie Legaux
Cincinnati's Munchie Legaux committed four turnovers against Delaware State -- not the best warmup for Virginia Tech.
3. Cincinnati, Virginia Tech look for clarity: Six turnovers -- and four from your quarterback -- against an FCS team is never a good sign, though better to have them come in a win than against an opponent that will capitalize on them. The Hokies will, meaning Munchie Legaux will have to build off his first two starts, which showed both all of the good and the bad that he is capable of.

4. FedEx atmosphere: The Bearcats received $3.5 million to move this game from Nippert Stadium to Landover, Md., where they will be much closer to Virginia Tech's campus. Yes, Butch Jones is treating it like a road game. But will it even feel like one?

5. Will USF rise to the occasion? No. 4 FSU would appear to be the worst possible opponent for a USF team on the brink of falling into last year's bad habits. Penalties, turnovers and inconsistent QB play have limited the Bulls in back-to-back losses. An admirable performance, even if it's in a loss, will show that this season is far from over for a team looking to put last year's 1-6 Big East mark in the rearview mirror.

6. Does Louisville put it all together? Coach Charlie Strong said he was glad in a sense that his team didn't blow UNC out after a big first half, because it practiced poorly a week later and survived a scare at FIU it probably wouldn't have without that sense of urgency. Now Strong can get on his players. With a cupcake in Southern Miss before Big East play, the Cardinals will try to get back on track and enter conference play as a more confident undefeated team.