Last week was a perfect week here at the Big East blog, but now the real season begins. Conference play tests even the strongest of prognosticators because as every coach likes to remind us -- this league is totally wide open. We'll see how my 27-4 record holds up after Week 5.
No. 16 USF at Pitt, Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN. The Bulls have lost three straight to the Panthers, and six times on Thursday nights. But history is for textbooks. This is a new USF team that is playing with confidence and a quarterback who looks immensely comfortable in the system. Contrast that to Pitt, whose quarterback looks immensely uncomfortable in his system. Until Tino Sunseri gets a hang of this offense, the Panthers are going to have a tough time beating upper echelon teams. Hard to see a breakout game against a solid defense. USF 24, Pitt 17.
Rutgers at Syracuse, Saturday, noon, ESPN3. In the highly anticipated showdown between teams vying to be "New York's team" we find two evenly matched teams. Both have had struggles running the ball. Both have had quarterbacks and receivers with solid seasons to date. I give the edge to Rutgers because I think Mohamed Sanu can take advantage against a banged-up Syracuse defense, and the Scarlet Knights defense has played better than the Orange to date. Rutgers 27, Syracuse 24.
Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio), Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN3. The Bearcats are coming off a big Thursday night win over NC State and now play Miami (Ohio) in the oldest nonconference rivalry in college football. Cincinnati has won five straight in the series and faces a Miami team that is 0-3 under first-year coach Don Treadwell. Isaiah Pead is in line to have a big day against the No. 84 run defense in the country. Cincinnati 35, Miami 17.
Western Michigan at UConn, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Huskies face their second straight MAC opponent when Western Michigan visits. Johnny McEntee was officially given the starting job this week, and coach Paul Pasqualoni is hopeful he will be able to build on a good performance against Buffalo in which he threw the first two touchdown passes of his career. Western Michigan has a good passing game with Alex Carder and receiver Jordan White, so watch for the Broncos to try and pick on Gary Wilburn, starting in place of Blidi Wreh-Wilson. UConn 21, Western Michigan 17.
Marshall at Louisville, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. We get our first glimpse of the Cardinals since they upset in-state rival Kentucky. Expect to see plenty of Teddy Bridgewater, who could be making his first career start if Will Stein is unable to play with a shoulder injury. The inconsistent Louisville offensive line could have its hands full with Vinny Curry, but the Cardinals should be able to run on Marshall and shut down what has been an anemic Herd offense. Louisville 30, Marshall 13.
Bowling Green at No. 22 West Virginia, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. The Mountaineers aim to bounce back against a Bowling Green team that is vastly improved from a year ago. The big question is whether or not the Falcons can handle Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, who have played incredibly well in the past two games. Bet you would not guess this -- Bowling Green actually averages more points than the Mountaineers. Not in this game. West Virginia 38, Bowling Green 17.