What to watch in the Big East, Week 3

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

1. Cincinnati's defense vs. the Rodgers brothers: Shutting down Southeast Missouri State and Rutgers was nice. The real test for Cincinnati's rebuilt defense arrives this weekend against Oregon State and their two main playmakers, Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Quarterback Sean Canfield will easily be the best the Bearcats have faced this season, and the back line of the Cincinnati defense may be its most vulnerable area. The Beavers have given up five sacks already this year, so guys like Curtis Young and Ricardo Matthews could apply some pressure up front.

2. The Cincinnati passing game: We know that Pittsburgh could do nothing through the air against Oregon State in the Sun Bowl. Well, Tony Pike is no Bill Stull. The Beavers have given up 251 yards per game through the air this year already to lesser opponents. Can Pike keep up his stellar early-season play and silence the crowd in Corvallis?

3. Just Plains speed: All you ever hear about is the SEC's dominant speed. Well, West Virginia will come to the Plains with plenty of burners of its own, including Noel Devine, Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin. Last year in Morgantown, the Mountaineers looked like the much faster team. Auburn has some impressive athletes on defense, but you can't hit what you can't catch. If West Virginia can eliminate some of the penalties and mistakes it had in the first two games, it should move the ball and put up enough points in this game.

4. The West Virginia defense vs. Auburn's running game: The Tigers have been unbelievable on the ground thus far under Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn, averaging 345.5 yards per game rushing. Those are Pat White/Steve Slaton kind of numbers and then some. How will West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel counter that with his three-man front, especially if top defensive lineman Scooter Berry is unable to go? The last thing West Virginia wants is for Jarrett Brown to be standing on the sideline while the Tigers run the ball at will.

5. Syracuse's grit: Are the Orange content to be a team that plays good opponents tough, like they did against Minnesota and Penn State? Or can they get over the hump, beat Northwestern and prove things have changed under Doug Marrone? The offense needs to open things up a little more. While Greg Paulus has been decent, Syracuse has scored seven points since halftime of the Minnesota game. And the defense will have a challenge against the Wildcats' multi-dimensional offense.

6. UConn's, uh, offense: Maybe Cody Endres is the spark UConn needs at quarterback. That is, if he's over the stomach bug that bothered him all week. The Huskies need something to get them going on offense, because the passing game once again looks anemic. Scoring in the teens is probably not going to cut it against Robert Griffin and Baylor. It's time for offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to show why he was hired.

7. Triple option near the three rivers: Navy befuddles many defenses with its triple-option offense. Pitt has seen it up close the past two years and did a good job shutting it down last year. But that 42-21 win in Annapolis came when the Midshipmen had quarterback issues; Ricky Dobbs is now in control under center and can run or pass. The Panthers' defense needs to tighten up some problem areas from last week at Buffalo in order to keep this one from being close.

8. Dion Lewis: The true freshman has been nothing short of spectacular in his first two college games. LeSean McCoy had a field day against Navy last season, and the Pitt offensive line should be able to open plenty of running lanes for Lewis. Are we in for yet another special performance?

9. Justin Burke's homecoming: The Louisville quarterback is from Lexington, Ky., and will be playing in his home city against Kentucky. He will not get a warm reception. Expect Kentucky to play press man-to-man against the Cardinals receivers, stack the box and force Burke to beat them throwing the ball. Burke doesn't have the strongest arm around, and he must constantly be aware of where the Wildcats' star cornerback, Trevard Lindley, is lining up. He must complete some deep balls to Scott Long or others to loosen up the defense for Victor Anderson.

10. Focus for South Florida and Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are playing their second straight no-name opponent (Florida International). For the Bulls, this is their third in a row (Charleston Southern). Both have big road games next week, Rutgers at Maryland and South Florida at Florida State. But they need to concentrate on the task at hand and put their outmatched opponents away on Saturday. If not, doubt will linger.