Time to move along to Week 3 in my ultimate Big East road trip. For those just tuning in to this new series, I am selecting the games I would choose to see each and every week this season.
My editors usually do that for me. But if the scheduling were up to me, this is where I would want to go.
Here is the Week 3 schedule:
Thurs., Sept. 13
Rutgers at USF
Sat., Sept. 15
Delaware State at Cincinnati
UConn at Maryland
North Carolina at Louisville
Virginia Tech at Pitt
Stony Brook at Syracuse
My pick: Rutgers at USF.
Why: Another pretty decent week of games with some excellent story lines. You have three matchups against the closest conference rival the Big East has -- the ACC. There is the Randy Edsall Bowl between UConn and Maryland, a program that has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. And then you have North Carolina at Louisville and Virginia Tech at Pitt. The Tar Heels beat Louisville last year but are rebuilding under first-year coach Larry Fedora; Virginia Tech figures to be ranked when it arrives at Heinz Field, and this is also a future ACC preview game. You guys know how important wins over ACC teams have become, particularly when comparisons are made between the conferences.
But the choice is another game with early league implications. Much already has been made about the Rutgers-USF game being moved to Thursday night. It's a great opportunity for national exposure for both programs. USF has a short week to prepare, and traditionally has had terrible results on Thursday nights. So that is two strikes right there. But at least the Bulls are at home, and they tend to have much better results in September as opposed to November.
But Rutgers has owned the series, and delivered a heartbreaking overtime win last season. USF blew a late fourth-quarter lead in that game. That should serve as extra motivation for this team. So should starting conference play so early. There is no way USF can overlook this game. It has got to be ready or it will start league play in an 0-1 hole.
As for Rutgers, this is going to be a huge test for first-year coach Kyle Flood, because expectations are growing for this team to win a Big East championship. How does the team handle the weight of expectations, and will there be any looking ahead to the sexier matchup aginst Arkansas the following week? These two teams have never won a Big East title, but this season could provide the best shot for each to make history. This game will set an early tone for both.
Here are my previous choices