Thursday, November 29, 2012
What to watch in the Big East: Week 14
By Matt Fortuna
Here's what to keep an eye on during the last weekend of the regular season:
1. Rutgers' atmosphere. It's a sellout tonight for the Louisville game. And, well, we remember how crazy it got six years ago during a Thursday night game against the Cardinals. The Empire State Building will be lit red tonight, as it was then, and this time the Scarlet Knights have a chance to leave no doubt about who's atop the Big East.
2. Teddy Bridgewater's health. Broken left wrist. Sprained right ankle. The best quarterback in the Big East is hobbling, as is his team; Louisville has dropped two straight. Can the Cardinals get it together for the most important game of the year? That could be the deciding factor tonight in Piscataway.
The Bearcats, facing the league's No. 1 defense in UConn, need a strong effort from quarterback Brendon Kay.
3. Brendon Kay's effectiveness. Which QB will show up for Cincinnati? The one who dazzled against Temple and USF -- two of the conference's worst teams -- or the one who turned it over twice against Rutgers, the league's second-best defense? Kay will be facing the league's best defense Saturday at UConn, which needs one win to extend its season. Then again, if Louisville wins tonight, the Bearcats will be playing for a share of their fourth conference title in the past five years.
4. Lyle McCombs. The UConn back has rushed for 100 or more yards in each of his past two games. Not coincidentally, those games are the Huskies' only two Big East wins. One more win, and they go bowling. Also keep an eye on who is handing the ball off to McCombs, as QB Chandler Whitmer's status remains up in the air after he got knocked out of last week's game.
5. Pitt's streak of twos. Lose two, win two, etc. If Pitt's season continues on the path it's been on, the Panthers will impress at USF this weekend and extend their season into a bowl game. That would be big for a season that began with two crushing losses, and even bigger for a program that would get 15 extra practices under a first-year head coach.
6. USF's response. At 3-8, the Bulls are having their worst season in program history. They lost six in a row at one point this season. They have been so devastated by injuries that a third-stringer is starting the finale at quarterback. Will they channel all that frustration into one final, strong performance against Pitt?