Big East picks, Week 13

OK, I've officially learned my lesson about being cocky.

Last week, I got chesty about my run of undefeated weeks and even talked trash to the other ESPN.com bloggers about how my record was the best on the site. The results were predictable.

Crash. Burn.

Last week's 1-2 record was my worst showing of the year. I'm half-convinced that Syracuse won its first Big East game since 2006 over somebody other than Louisville just to deflate my ego. Oh, well. We've got a full slate of games this week, and I enter it humbled and hungry.


Pitt 24, West Virginia 17: Pitt has owned West Virginia the past two years, and this is the best Panthers team that Dave Wannstedt has brought into the Backyard Brawl. Given how the Mountaineers have struggled to score points over the last month and change, plus how well Pitt is playing defensively, I see this becoming a three-game win streak and setting us up for the mother of all Big East showdowns on Dec. 5.

Cincinnati 38, Illinois 17: The Illini are dangerous, especially on offense. They put up 38 in a win over Michigan and 35 in a victory at Minnesota. But the Bearcats have had a week off to prepare, and they've gotten an earful about how they weren't as impressive as TCU the past two times out. With that as motivation, and the return of Tony Pike at quarterback for Senior Day at Nippert Stadium, I sense a big performance coming.

Rutgers 20, Louisville 12: This is not one that fans of exciting offense will want to DVR. The Cardinals are the lowest-scoring team in the Big East, while Rutgers has plenty of trouble moving the ball. I think the Scarlet Knights are still smarting from last week's loss at Syracuse and won't repeat the same mistakes they made. Louisville has been sneakily decent defensively and will keep this game close. But Rutgers' blitz packages and cornerbacks will prevent the Cardinals from finding the end zone enough to win.


Miami 31, South Florida 24: This is exactly the kind of game you can envision South Florida winning. Sold-out stadium, players jacked up against an in-state behemoth. The Bulls certainly rode a tidal wave of emotion to great effect at Florida State in September. But this Miami team is better than the Seminoles and has the athletes to contain B.J. Daniels as the Hurricanes' defense showed in a win over option-happy Georgia Tech earlier in the year. South Florida hangs around and has a chance to win late but will have to settle for one defining win over the Big Three this season.

Connecticut 23, Syracuse 13: I get the feeling that the Notre Dame win lifted a burden off UConn's shoulders after all those close losses, and the team will finish strong down the stretch. I also get the feeling that the Orange emptied their payload in the Rutgers win at home. The Huskies probably aren't capable of really blowing anyone out, and the Syracuse run defense can keep Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon below their normal stats. But in the end UConn gets bowl eligible without too much resistance.

Last week: 1-2

Season record: 50-10 (83.3 percent)