Big East picks, Week 3

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

The Big East prediction machine is operating on all cylinders. Last week brought a perfect 7-0 record, and I've missed only one in the first two weeks.

Of course, there weren't a whole lot of edge-of-your-seat matchups in Weeks 1 and 2. The competition heats up considerably this week, so I have to raise my game as well.

Cincinnati 34, Oregon State 31: It's asking a lot for the Bearcats to go across the country and beat a good team in a place where it hardly ever loses to nonconference opponents. But consider me a believer in Brian Kelly's team. I think Tony Pike will lead the offense to some early scores to help quiet the crowd, and the defense will do just enough to hold on and win one of the best games of the weekend.

West Virginia 28, Auburn 24: The SEC winning streak continues. Yes, Auburn's new offense has looked great the first two games, but the Mountaineers are far better than Louisiana Tech or Mississippi State. West Virginia can match the Tigers speed for speed, and Jarrett Brown will make enough plays to win in a tough environment.

Baylor 24, Connecticut 14: It's impossible to have any faith in UConn's offense, especially when replacement quarterback Cody Endres has been dealing with a stomach virus all week. The Huskies just can't pass or score, and they're going to have to put points up with electric Bears quarterback Robert Griffin ready to dazzle on his home field.

Kentucky 28, Louisville 14: I saw nothing in the preseason or from Louisville's first game that makes me think the Cardinals have enough firepower to win this rivalry contest. Unless they get some key turnovers or perhaps a special-teams score from Trent Guy, they're going to have a hard time moving the ball on Kentucky's defense. Make it three in a row for the Wildcats over Steve Kragthorpe.

Pittsburgh 35, Navy 21: Ricky Dobbs is going to cause some problems for the Pitt defense with his feet and his arm. But the Panthers should have enough familiarity with the Navy triple option after playing it the past two years. And Pitt's running game, led by Dion Lewis, has been spectacular so far. No reason to think that won't continue.

Northwestern 21, Syracuse 20: I want to pick Syracuse here, I really do. The Orange seem like they're ready to pull off an upset after playing pretty well in their first two Big Ten matchups, and they're back at home. Problem is, I've just seen too many Syracuse games the past few years to truly believe. I say Greg Paulus falls just short of leading his team on a winning drive.

Rutgers 30, Florida International 16: FIU coach Mario Cristobal is a former Greg Schiano assistant who knows the Scarlet Knights' system well. But my crystal ball says that the Golden Panthers don't have the talent to beat Rutgers on the road.

South Florida 48, Charleston Southern 7: The Bulls haven't really impressively dispatched any of their first two cream-puff opponents. Charleston Southern is even worse than the first two, however. Though boredom and looking ahead to Florida State could be an issue, I think South Florida will finally put together two good halves. Maybe Matt Grothe and George Selvie will even dance the Charleston like Pete and Trudy on "Mad Men" a couple of weeks ago.

Last week: 7-0

Season results: 13-1 (.929)