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October 14, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:00 PM)

Hey, everybody. Big week for me. I'll be at the South Florida-Cincinnati game tomorrow night and then the USC-Notre Dame clash on Saturday. Can't wait for either. I'm happy to take your questions on both games, the Big East and whatever else pops up

Dan (Buffalo)

Does USF have the personnel on offense to hold the ball (either by running the ball or in the short passing game) and limit UC's TOP enough to stay in the game? How big is the return of Curtis Young for UC's defense, particularly in relation to this?

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

I'm not sure South Florida wants to play keepaway as much as Fresno State and especially Miami of Ohio did. The Bulls have some athletes, too, and they'll be more than happy to take the big play if it's there. I think the bigger thing for them is trying to make Cincinnati go on sustained drives by keeping the ball in front of them. The Bearcats have to show they can be patient.

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

As for Young, I think he'll play a limited role, perhaps as a pass rushing specialist on obvious passing downs.

Ryan (Tampa)

Much like you said in a previous post, I cringe at the thought of Brian Kelly having a bye week to prepare for this game. What do you think is the most important aspect for the Bulls to focus on in order to be prepared for any creative ideas Kelly has up his sleeve? Any best guesses of the trickery they will attempt - wildcat, fake plays, etc?

Brian Bennett
  (4:05 PM)

I don't think Kelly is a huge gadget guy. What I think he'll do is find ways to slow down that Bulls pass rush, whether it be with screens, rolling the pocket, etc. And he's said that they're going to line Gilyard up in a lot of different formations, maybe even the backfield

Luke (Chicago)

Brian, if it comes down to a final drive for either team and a TD is needed, which offense has the better edge? ND or SC?

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

I think if you offered Notre Dame that option right now, Charlie Weis and the players would jump at it. They feel pretty good about their final-drive capabilities at this point.

Will (Tampa)

Hey BB only a little over 24 hours till kickoff, less than 24 till the party begins...are you going to be in Tampa for the madness???

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

Already in Florida, Will. It's hot and humid. Wonder if that plays any factor tomorrow for Cincinnati.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

What are your thoughts on the Pitt-Rutgers matchup on Friday night? Do you think Pitt can finally crack the top-25, and maybe hang around in the rankings, with a win?

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

Pitt is No. 26 in AP, so a victory should get them in. I think they have better talent, especially on offense, than Rutgers. But they can't seem to get over that Scarlet Knights hump

josh (florida)

id like to see nd win, but i doubt they will. clausen is over rated and chokes under pressure

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

Really? Well, you must be watching a different guy than I am this season.

Chris Butler (Roanoke Virginia)

While watching the WVU/ Syracuse game, a fellow Mountaineer said that it didn't matter whether or not we were ranked. I agree that the team should just focus on winning and not polls. But, I beleive it makes a huge difference when recruiting juniors and seniors out of High School. ESPN mainly focuses on the top 25. That's what the kids see. What are your thoughts? And, would you like to see a different format, especially at the beginning of each season? I get it after we are knee deep into the season. The top 25 should be talked about.

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

Doesn't matter at this point except, as you said, for publicity. I think West Virginia will win its next two and get in the rankings. And yes, they should be revamped and not published until midseason, but as long as fans eat them up, organizations will still publish Top 25s.

freddy (texas)

HEY BB, IF USF COMES OUT ON TOP TOMORROW HOW GOOD ARE THE CHANCES FOR THEM TO RUN THE TABLE. AND WHERE WOOULD THEY END UP IN THE POLLS IF THEY DID?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

I don't like USF to go undefeated even with a win tomorrow. Remember they have to go to Pitt and then play West Virginia before the month is out, and they have Miami on Thanksgiving weekend. I don't see them winning all of those

Patrick (New Brunswick, NJ)

How are ya BB? We miss ya here in Piscataway .. 2 quick questions. Are defensive turnovers and excellent special teams play necessary for the Irish to stay in this game?Also, what does Rutgers have to defensively key in on to limit Pitt's O?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Patrick, Notre Dame has to be outstanding in all aspects to have a chance. USC is a big step up from the teams they have played. They must get pressure on Barkley and hope the freshman makes mistakes. As for Rutgers, they have to hope their blitzes work against what has been a very good offensive line, and then they have to cover some excellent receivers when the DBs are put on an island.

Dan (Tampa)

Brian, Want to come to Peabody's tomorrow night with me after the Bulls win?

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

I'll probably be writing well past last call, but enjoy

MD (Cincinnati )

Can you break down Tony Pike compared to the other current Heisman hopefuls? It seems that he has played far less passing downs than the others yet still has equal or superior numbers.

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

I think Pike and Clausen have had the best years of any quarterbacks, and Pike has done it in far less time on the field, as you say. His chances still depend on Cincinnati going undefeated, and he'll need a big game tomorrow night with a lot of eyes watching.

Jason (Louisville, Ky)

Like many Louisville fans, I feel very conflicted about the recent S. Miss win. I was happy to see the players get a W and I was glad that Scott Long and Trent Guy could break off some big plays. At the same time, barely topping a mediocre C-USA squad doesn't exactly get me hyped for the future of Cardinal football. It's sad to say, but the most excited I've been about Louisville's program in the last year was last week when all the rumors were swirling about Kragthorpe's imminent dismissal. Since those rumors were dispelled, it seems that most of the fanbase has moved on to basketball.

Brian Bennett
  (4:14 PM)

I don't really see a question in there, but thanks for checking in, Jason.

janet (Panama City FL)

When will the Big East be given the attention other conferences and non-conference teams have regularly! Enough with the SEC, 12, Pac 10 - Notre Dame, Boise St.....what gives!! Isn't the USF Bulls Cincinnati game worthy of mention on the front page of ESPN.com? There is enough information for football fans to read about the quarterbacks and defense with these two teams alone to keep their attention---probably more so given the over-media hype the other conferences get week in and week out! I'm just sayin'! Go Bulls!

Brian Bennett
  (4:16 PM)

Well, let's just be honest here. Those other schools and leagues have more tradition and interested alumni. South Florida's been around a little more than a decade, and Cincinnati just became a national power yesterday. Keep winning, and those things will come

Romone (DC)

Hi Brian,Can WVU please let the Wes Lyons experiment die? Injuries or not, it isn't working and taking time away from other players, i.e. Jock Sanders. What do you think? Thanks.

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

I feel bad for Lyons because he's a nice kid, but every year it seems like he's hyped for having a breakout, and then he disappears when the season begins. I can't believe, though, that they can't find a way to use him in the red zone.

Tom (New Jersey)

Will ND show improvement on defending the pass against the Trojans? Or am I gonna have to be on the edge of my seat everytime Barkley goes back to pass?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

That's a key question. Those corners are much better than what they've shown this year. They just don't seem to be playing with any confidence right now.

Justin (Connecticut)

Brian - before the season, a lot of analysts were dogging the credibility of the Big East. But with two teams now in the top 25, and two more (Pitt and WVU) waiting to jump in, has the Big East quieted the skeptics, especially those from the Mountain West conference?

Brian Bennett
  (4:19 PM)

You'd have to ask the skeptics, but the Big East has had a good year. The league needs to keep it going, and Cincinnati and USF need to put on a good show tomorrow. I think they will

Matt (Slippery Rock, PA)

Since Dion Lewis has played so well this year and shows no signs of slowing down do you think Ray Graham will transfer before the end of his four years at Pitt?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

They've both been getting a lot of carries the past two weeks, but that's an interesting question. Will they each get enough work to stay happy? Pitt does like to run the ball a lot, and they can be a pretty dangerous 1-2 combo.

Toby (Pittsburgh)

is this year the make or break year for Dave Wannstedt, or the fact that he is a pittsburgh native, keeps his job longer?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

Make or break? Nah. He won nine games last year and is 5-1 now. He's safe.

Dan (Tampa)

Hey Brian, Do you think the Cincy )-Line can contain 2 time all american George Selvie and Jason Paul Pierre?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

That could be the key to the game. I'm not sure there are many lines in America that can slow those two guys down with one-on-one blocking from the tackles. So Cincinnati is going to have to give some help. I could see them deciding to chip one side with a running back or double with a tight end and then roll the pocket that way to stay away from the other.

Clint (Fort Polk, La)

Brian! Hey if ND loses to USC can they still make it to a good bowl game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:24 PM)

Depends on your definition of good. They're a lock for the Gator Bowl at 9-3 or 8-4. They'll probably need to win out and go 10-2 in your scenario to make a BCS game. With Floyd coming back, that's a possibility, but a long shot.

Mark (Katy, TX)

Brian, We know the Cincy offense and the Bulls defense are good, but how does the USF offense match up against the Bearcat D? Can USF hang 30 points on Cincy if we need to because Pike and company end up being better than our D? Does the USF D have to keep them under 20 to win? What's the Bulls path to victory? Nice picks last week, especially the two close ones.

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

The South Florida offense is underrated, I think. Daniels is a dual threat with a great arm. They will take some shots downfield, and Cincinnati's one concern on defense is its secondary. I think at least 26 points will be needed to win this game.

bennett (wv)

if uc goes down this week will the big east bashers be back out in force?

Brian Bennett
  (4:26 PM)

Nice name. Not necessarily. It could just be that the USF bandwagon revs up. The key thing is, they can't play an ugly game with a bunch of turnovers or missed tackles. That's when the critics will sharpen knives.

mitch (atlanta ga)

do u think jimmy clausen goes pro after this yr?

Brian Bennett
  (4:27 PM)

That option will be there for him. He's not in dire straits for money. So it will come down to whether he wants to stay in school, get his degree and maybe get Notre Dame to a higher level. The turf toe injury could affect his decision as well

Chris (DC)

Brian,I?ve been hyping Jarrett Brown to many of my friends (lots of Hokies) and telling that this kid has pro-prospect written all over him. I have heard some of the analysts say that with Brown poised to have a big senior year, that his measurables will start to create a lot of interest heading into the draft. I have not seen a QB in College Football right now who has the unique combination of size and pocket mobility that Brown has. I think this kid could go as high as 2nd-3rd round when it is all said and done, am I crazy or is there some truth to it?

Brian Bennett
  (4:28 PM)

He has unbelievable tools. He's just inexperienced, and I think he needs to show that he can stay in the pocket instead of scrambling at the first sign of trouble.

Jay (NYC)

So many people ask the questions about their team potentially going undefeated but given the improved depth of the Big East this year, isn't it far more likely that every team will lose at least one conference game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

Probably. The one exception I see is Cincinnati. If they win tomorrow, they've got a pretty easy road the rest of the way. They get West Virginia at home and other than the season finale at Pitt, shouldn't have too many challenges

Brian Bennett
  (4:30 PM)

For everybody asking for my predictions, you can find those out tomorrow in my weekly picks posts for both the Big East and Notre Dame. Not going to steal my own thunder, sorry.

jake (nyc)

reading your blog today. this seemingly obsessive attitude pitt players have towards rutgers. will it backfire on them come friday?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Maybe, but you can understand their obsession since they're 0-4. Pitt has like 11 guys from Jersey or New York, too, so this is a big one for them.

Jeremy (Blacksburg, VA)

How happy do you think Tony Pike is he wont have to deal with the Hokies, specifically Jason Worilds, this year as he tries to keep his Bearcats undefeated?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

I wouldn't rule out a rematch in the BCS.

andrew (california)

Notre Dame is a lock for the Gator Bowl at 9-3 or 8-4? You honestly think they would take the Gator bowl from an 11-1 USF or a 10-2 WVU.

Brian Bennett
  (4:33 PM)

ND would have to be within two wins of the second-best Big East team to go to the Gator Bowl, but I don't think that's going to be a problem. And the Gator would take them in less than a second. It's Notre Dame. Every bowl wants the Irish and their fan base/TV ratings.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

It seemed lke George Selvie got alot of pub for a couple years. Has he fallen off the scout's radar?

Brian Bennett
  (4:35 PM)

No, he's still there. He's not a big guy and may have to play as a linebacker in a 3-4, but he'll get drafted highly

Hari (cleveland)

We keep hearing that Notre Dame's offensive line has improved, but do you think they stand a chance against this fast USC defense?

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

It hasn't the last two years, that's for sure. I think they're better equipped to deal with USC, but those guys are awfully good. The Trojans will get pressure; ND just has to make sure it's not every down.

Ryan (Tampa, FL)

If South Florida takes it tomorrow, is it because UC was overrated or because USF was underrated?

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

It would be because South Florida was better

Billy Berue (Bushwood Country Club)

Brian, Great job on the blog. Taking a closer look at the teams of Pitt and Rutgers over the past 4 years, it seemed that Rutgers always had whatever was necessary to totally exploit the weakness of the Pitt defense (strong run game in 06 and 07, explosive pass game in 08). With that being said, the only weakness on this Pitt team appears to be the pass D again. Wouldn't you agree that with Rutgers losing their top 2 WRs and starting a true freshman at QB, this goes against the problems Pitt has had with the Knights in the past?

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

I do agree with that. I think you may see Schiano let Savage take some shots down the field though. One good thing about their schedule is that they could play pretty close to the vest. Why not open things up a bit at home? Tim Brown could be the difference maker.

Matt (Tampa)

BB do u vote in any of the polls? If so where did u vote Cincy and USF this past week?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

I only vote in the ESPN.com power poll. I had Cincinnati 7th, USF 17th and Pitt 25th

Ben (Tampa)

Every week it seems like a new Bulls running back is featured. How might USF attack Cincy with the running game - power with Mike Ford or finesse and speed with Plancher and Daniels?

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

And don't forget Lindsey Lamar, a speedy freshman who should be back this week from injury. I think they'll continue to mix all of them in, but Ford might be the best option, given his size and power. That could work against the 3-4

Golden Arm (Indianapolis, IN)

If Notre Dame were to win this weekend, and I think they will, where do you think they will end up in the polls next week?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

You'd probably see an overreaction. Top 15. Remember that Washington got into the Top 25 by beating USC without Barkley or Mays at home, which was ridiculous.

Marley (Pittsburgh)

Brian what are your feelings on the Big East telling Notre Dame that the football team has to join the conference, or all there sports are out of the conference?

Brian Bennett
  (4:41 PM)

I think Notre Dame would immediately take all its other teams somewhere else.

Justin (Jersey)

What makes this year any different for USF? We are always fooled by them but yet again, everybody seems to be back on the wagon. I mean afterall, their only significant win was over a mediocre FSU team.

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

It's a legitimate question. Watch tomorrow and we'll find out.

CHRIS (TAMPA)

how do you think the humidity will affect the Cinci players?

Brian Bennett
  (4:44 PM)

It becomes a factor if the defense is on the field for a long time, as it was the last two games. The night game helps things, though. If this were Saturday at noon, it would be a different story

Chuck (fort Wayne, Indiana)

How is Jake Locker listed higher on the draft board than Jimmy Clausen?

Brian Bennett
  (4:44 PM)

I'm not Mel Kiper, but Locker is more mobile and a better overall athlete

alex (cincy)

In a ridiculous stretch of all probability: Cincinnati runs the table and knocks of the patron saint of football, Tebow and the Gators. Would Kelly leave? If all he wants is to win national titles...and in this scenario he proves he can...do you think he would move on? or just build a dynasty?

Brian Bennett
  (4:45 PM)

At that point, I think there'd be about a half-dozen big-time programs offering him a blank check, and Cincinnati could never match that

Nate (TAMPA,FL)

BB, If Miami wins out and Wins a possible rematch at Virginia Tech in the ACC Champs game..Could they crack the top 5????

Brian Bennett
  (4:46 PM)

Absolutely. They're already No. 9.

SS (Morgantown, WV)

What are your thoughts on Noel Devine's season so far?

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

He's been fantastic. I love that he's showing more patience and following his blocks instead of trying to cut back and reverse field when the hole doesn't immediately appear. And when he finds a seam, there's no running back more fun to watch

CHRIS (TAMPA)

Brian, how sick are you of fans asking about their team running the table?

Brian Bennett
  (4:47 PM)

That's life without a playoff, I'm afraid

Brad (PITT)

hey i got a question, in you rbig east power rankings, you have PITT 4th, however in the ESPN total rankings, you have PITT 25th and you dont have WVU ranked, that kinda sounds like your contradicting yourself, care to explain?

Brian Bennett
  (4:49 PM)

I didn't even realize that. Pitt is 5-1 and 2-0 in the Big East, while WVU is 4-1 and 1-0. But I believe WVU has more potential. Does that make any sense at all?

carlos (tampa)

About the UC USF game. What do you think (with the stats from the past games) this game would most likely look like? Physical defensive struggle or a fourth of july shoot out?

Brian Bennett
  (4:50 PM)

Somewhere in between. Both teams have good defenses, don't turn the ball over that much. I'm thinking the score will be in the mid-to-high 20s.

Nathaniel (Bristol, TN)

Nate asked about Miami/VT rematch in ACCCG, that is impossible, they are in the same division. Now for my question, is Ryan Williams the best player in 2009 that did not play in 2008?

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

This is why you shouldn't ask me ACC questions.

Brian Bennett
  (4:51 PM)

Seriously, can anybody outside of ACC fans tell you who's in the Coastal and who's in the Atlantic?

Ryan (Charlotte)

We already know Lesean MeCoy wasn't. But is Lewis the kind of kid that would stick around to break a school record?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

He's less of a sure-thing NFL prospect than McCoy because of his size.

Paul Albert (Cincinnati, OH)

Brian, What do you think the chances are of a UC blowing out USF tomorrow?

Brian Bennett
  (4:52 PM)

If it's going to be a blowout either way, I think Cincinnati is on the winning side. Remember that Kelly is 2-0 against the Bulls. But I think it will be close.

John (Fairfax)

I noticed that on the Heisman board you are one of the experts that gave Tebow 14 1st place votes, unless you voted for the Nebraska DL which I doubt you did. How can you honestly say Tebow is having a better year than Pike, Clausen, McCoy, Keenum....Tebow is being voted this year because of what he's done in the past...plain and simple.

Brian Bennett
  (4:53 PM)

I did vote Tebow No. 1, based on his leadership and being the best player on the best team. Now, it's only mid-October, and he's going to have to show me more to stay there. But at this point, nobody's taken it away from him.

Dave (Wheeling)

What BCS Bowl will the Big East champ likely end up in this year with the bowl selection priorities

Brian Bennett
  (4:54 PM)

Best bet is the Sugar, because it has the last pick among at-large teams.

Steve (Seattle)

Jonathan Baldwin (6'5" 225 and fast) vs. Devin McCourty (5'10" 190). Could this be a long day for RU?

Brian Bennett
  (4:55 PM)

Baldwin is a nightmare matchup for anybody. I liked that Pitt looked his way a lot against UConn, and I think it should do that every week. He's 6-5 with a 40-inch vertical. Just throw the ball near him and he'll get it

Robert (FL, Keys)

The ACC is easy, if their ranked they are Coastal and if not Atlantic lol

Brian Bennett
  (4:56 PM)

Ha. Good one, Robert

Lauren Nash (Mobile, AL)

Ok I'm putting a Big East team in here hoping to get an answer since apparently this seems to be mostly Big East fans. If Cincinnati wins out, and apparently most think that they will, and Alabama goes undefeated and loses again in the SEC Championship to the presumed Florida contender, do you think it likely that Alabama could play Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl? And if so who would be your choice to win given the season so far?

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

If I had to pick today, that's exactly the matchup I would predict. I don't think Cincinnati can beat Alabama. The Tide look awfully good.

Cameron (Nashville)

Brian, What is the chances of 2 Big East teams in the BCS?

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

Less than me dating Natalie Portman

Paul Albert (Cincinnati, OH)

Brian, can you say who you WANT to win tomorrow?! I know you have to favor either UC or USF.

Brian Bennett
  (4:57 PM)

I honestly could not care less. I just hope it's a good game.

jon (syracuse)

who are your front runners for Big East Coach of the Year?

Brian Bennett
  (4:58 PM)

The two guys coaching in tomorrow night's game.

andrew (california)

Why do you think the Big East is automatically the last pick for the BCS? usually the mid-major is the last pick.

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

Yes, but if it's Boise, they'll probably go to the Fiesta, and if I'm not mistaken, they have the option of going to the Rose as well. Makes more geographic sense.

alex (cincy)

BB--are you saying you have no shot getting with Natalie. Keep your head up man.

Brian Bennett
  (4:59 PM)

Thanks for the support, Alex

carlos (tampa)

Why do you think its the reason USF has been hyped-up two years prior only to disappoint and lose several last-stretch games. Will they disappoint this year?

Brian Bennett
  (5:00 PM)

I think injuries and depth played a role, as well as maybe the team not handling the hype very well. Also, Jim Leavitt may have run them a little too hard in practice and wore the team down. He's said that he has scaled things back a little this year

Brian Bennett
  (5:01 PM)

OK, guys, my time is up. Enjoy the games this weekend. I'll have lots of stuff from my two big games in the next three days