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October 18, 2006
Big East: Week 8 Breakdown
Big East = Big exposure: For the first time this season, each Big East team will play a conference game - and all but one will be on national television. Rutgers will face Pittsburgh on ESPN2 at 5:45 p.m. Saturday. We'll find out then which team will be the top challenger to West Virginia and Louisville. On Friday night, West Virginia at Connecticut will be on ESPN and Sunday's game between South Florida and Cincinnati will also be on ESPN.
Best matchup: Pittsburgh running back LaRod Stephens-Howling vs. Rutgers run defense.
Worst matchup: Connecticut's run defense against West Virginia.
The pressure is on: Louisville's run game.
Upset alert: Cincinnati is a slight favorite at home over South Florida. With Ricky Ponton back on the field, the Bulls should be able to pick up a win on the road. No. 19 Rutgers is also an underdog against Pittsburgh. A Scarlet Knights' win is a definite possibility.
Most to gain: Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel.
Most to lose: Cincinnati.
Who's hot: Connecticut linebacker Ryan Henegan.
Who's not: West Virginia's defense.
Must see TV: No. 19 Rutgers (6-0, 1-0 Big East) at Pittsburgh (6-1, 2-0 Big East), 5:45 p.m., ESPN2
Newcomer who had an impact: South Florida running back Ricky Ponton.
Key stat: 26-8. The Big East's combined record against Division I-A non-conference opponents.
Key stat II: 84-109. The combined record of those Division I-A non-conference opponents. The main offender: South Florida, whose out-of-conference Division I-A opponents are 6-20. Connecticut has faced the toughest schedule in terms of wins and losses. UConn's I-A non-conference foes have combined to go 18-10.
Take the line: Cincinnati is a one-point favorite over South Florida. Take USF to win outright. Season: 5-2
They said it: "We have to beat Rutgers if we want to be considered a legitimate team."--Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Injury update: Louisville defensive end Zach Anderson could be sidelined for four weeks with a torn medial collateral ligament. … Pittsburgh defensive end Chris McKillop left last week's game against Central Florida with a shoulder injury, but should return against Rutgers.
Worth noting: The kickoff of the Pittsburgh-Rutgers game was moved from noon to 5:45 p.m. to allow ESPN2 to televise the game. … Louisville defensive tackle Amobi Okoye had a career-high nine tackles and a sack against Cincinnati. … Louisville has turned the ball over nine times in the last three games. … Randy Edsall, who has already changed quarterbacks this season at Connecticut, could do the same again at kicker. Graig Vicidomino replaced Matt Nuzie against Army last week. Vicidomino missed all three of his field-goal attempts. Edsall re-opened the position for competition this week. … The Huskies were no stranger to big plays against Army. Terry Caulley scored on a 98-yard run and Larry Taylor scored on a 72-yard punt return. … Rutgers leads the nation in scoring defense. The Scarlet Knights give up an average of 8.3 points per game. … Pittsburgh has not allowed a first quarter touchdown this year. … Syracuse quarterback Perry Patterson publicly apologized for an obscene gesture made toward West Virginia fans on Saturday. Former Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick also made an obscene gesture toward Mountaineers fans last year.
Looking back: The week ended with West Virginia (No. 4) and Louisville (No. 7) ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, but Rutgers and Pittsburgh are both in position to challenge those teams in conference play. The Cardinals welcomed Brian Brohm back to the field but had to squeak by Cincinnati, 23-17. Oh, at West Virginia quarterback Pat White ran for 247 yards and four touchdowns against Syracuse.
Freshman who impressed: South Florida defensive end Chris Robinson didn't find North Carolina's offensive line hard to handle with a sack and a forced fumble against the Tar Heels.