- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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So yeah, that whole part about the unpredictability of the Big East I wrote about last week? If only I had listened to my own advice. (Cough, cough, Pitt). I went 5-2 in Week 1 after feeling fully confident the league would go undefeated. And I know it has not been lost on you that the two teams that lost are jumping for the ACC.
What does Week 2 have in store? Hopefully a better record!
Pitt at Cincinnati, 8 p.m., ESPN. Would you rather be Cincinnati, which has had an extra week to prepare for the Big East opener? Or would you rather be Pitt, having to play on a short week after a humiliating loss to Youngstown State? Going with Cincinnati on that one. Although we have no idea what to expect out of the Bearcats because they did not play last week, could they be worse than what we saw out of the Panthers? I really doubt it. Pitt was dreadful on defense, and not much better on offense. I am sure there will be improvement, as there always is between Week 1 and Week 2. But I give Cincinnati the edge in virtually every category. These games are typically close, but the Bearcats have pulled out the squeakers in three of the past four seasons. Of course, it would be "so Big East" for Pitt win. Cincinnati 24, Pitt 21.
NC State at UConn, noon, Big East Network. There are two ACC/Big East matchups on Saturday afternoon, and two perfect opportunities for the league. The Huskies are going to present a huge challenge for the Wolfpack, who looked out of sorts in their opening loss to Tennessee. UConn does not have the speed Tennessee does at the skill positions, but the Huskies have what appears to be a good-looking defense that will keep them in the game. UConn's offense was just so-so last week, but NC State gave up many big plays, and All-American cornerback David Amerson looked beatable. If the Huskies can hit a couple of those, and get Lyle McCombs going, they will be in good shape. Overall, I think UConn has the better defense, and that is why I am picking the Huskies in my upset special! UConn 21, NC State 20.
Maryland at Temple, noon, ESPNU. The Terrapins appear to be in worse shape now than they were when Temple won this meeting last season 38-7. The Terps are starting a true freshman at quarterback in Perry Hills, and have had to deal with injuries to key players on both offense and defense. They barely squeaked out a 7-6 win over William & Mary and had only 236 yards of total offense. Temple was outstanding running the football last week against Villanova and now has to start working on its pass game, which struggled in Week 1. Defensively, Temple had four sacks and forced two turnovers. Simply put, the Owls are the better team. Temple 35, Maryland 14.
Missouri State at Louisville, 3:30 p.m., Big East Network. Teddy Bridgewater was about as perfect as he could be in a win over Kentucky last week. He was pulled from the game in the third quarter against the Wildcats, and I don't imagine he will last longer than that in this game against Missouri State. Coach Charlie Strong will want to see improvement from his defense in this one. Louisville 40, Missouri State 10.
No. 2 USC vs. Syracuse, 3:30 p.m., ABC. The Orange fought their tails off last week against Northwestern and came up just short 42-41. Now they have to follow that heartbreaking loss with a game against the No. 2 USC Trojans, who dropped from the No. 1 spot because Alabama played so well against Michigan. I still think USC is the No. 1 team in the nation. There is too much talent on offense for Syracuse to be able to stop. Ryan Nassib may get some yards, but I don't think this will be close. USC 38, Syracuse 20.
USF at Nevada, 3:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network. This is the hardest game of the week to predict. Nevada is a two-point favorite, and you understand why because the Wolf Pack beat Cal on the road and are playing at home. USF looked ragged at times in its win over Chattanooga, particularly on offense, and must travel across the country and three time zones to play. There also is a date against Rutgers looming on a short week. But let's be honest: USF is supposed to be better than Cal this year, and I am banking on its athletic front seven to contain Cody Fajardo and the Pistol. USF 28, Nevada 24.
Howard at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., Big East Network. What will be of particular interest to me is the Rutgers passing game and the development of a go-to receiver with the USF game looming. Perhaps coach Kyle Flood worries about the "lookahead" factor in this one, but I think Rutgers will have an easy time in this game. Rutgers 45, Howard 3.