I went into this week thinking I would go with all underdogs. Then I looked at the odds. The combined lines for all three Big East games on Saturday: 4.5. USF and Connecticut are each favored to win by 1; Cincinnati by 2.5. I really, really think all three teams are going to win. Do I dare go with favorites again, after going 1-3 last week? The overall record has slipped now to 39-20.
Cincinnati at Rutgers, noon, ESPNU. There is really only one question going into this game -- Can the Bearcats win without Zach Collaros? If you saw my bowl picks, then I clearly think the answer is yes. Asking backup quarterback Munchie Legaux to go on the road in his first college start and win is a tall order to be sure. But he has a terrific running back in Isaiah Pead, a solid offensive line and a good defense with him as well. I think Rutgers has a chance to take advantage of matchup problems with Mohamed Sanu against a secondary that gives up big plays. But Chas Dodd has an affinity for taking sacks, and Cincinnati has been terrific in that department. Derek Wolfe has the potential for a huge day. Home teams have not exactly dominated in Big East play this season (all three lost last week). The Bearcats might be favored, but who expects them to win? Me. Cincinnati 27, Rutgers 23.
Lousiville at UConn, noon, Big East Network. The Cardinals had a big problem stopping the run against Pitt last week. Most disturbing is that the Panthers are without leading rusher Ray Graham, and have one of the shakiest offensive lines in the Big East. Now they play a team that has found its groove in the run game. Lyle McCombs has three straight 100-yard games, and Scott McCummings is coming off a career day, with 59 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse. Neither of these teams moves the needle much when it comes to offensive fireworks. It's all going to come down to the run game -- whoever is most effective wins. UConn has not lost a Big East home game yet, but the Huskies will on Saturday. Coach Charlie Strong has stomped those video games to the ground. Louisville 21, UConn 20.
Miami at USF, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. USF fans have directed me to never pick the Bulls again. What if I pick them right here? The Bulls got a much needed win over Syracuse last week, and as has been the case throughout their history, they "get up" for the big nonconference games. Big East games, not so much. Miami might be down, but it would not diminish the impact of a win here any less. Both teams are fighting for their bowl lives. The big key is going to be whether or not USF continues its stellar play against the run. Lamar Miller is an explosive back who averages 5.7 yards a carry and has more than 1,000 yards this season. I really do think USF is going to win, so I am picking Miami. Hope that makes you happy, USF fans. Miami 30, USF 28.