Big East picks, Week 8

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Someone call the fire department, because my picks are a three-alarm blaze.

For the third week in a row, I posted a perfect 4-0 record. At the halfway mark, I'm predicting games at better than an 85 percent rate. Let's see if I can't keep moving that number up.


Rutgers 28, Army 14: The Black Knights could give their Scarlet counterparts some trouble with their triple-option offense. But Army scored only 16 points against Tulane and needed overtime to reach the same total in a win over Vanderbilt. So the Rutgers defense should be good enough to keep the points down. If Tom Savage and the Scarlet Knights offense can't break out in this game, there's trouble ahead.


Pittsburgh 27, South Florida 24: This, for me, is the real toss-up game of the weekend. You have two standout defensive lines, excellent athletes at receiver, big-play offenses. Pitt could have problems stopping the deep throws from B.J. Daniels. The difference, I think, is the Panthers' running game. Dion Lewis will churn out the yards and keep the Bulls' offense on the sidelines.

West Virginia 31, Connecticut 21: All bets are off in this game, because we have no idea how the Huskies will respond to the Jasper Howard tragedy. They could come out inspired, or they could be drained from the emotional tolls of the past week. With Jarrett Brown apparently feeling better and ready to go, that greatly improves the Mountaineers' chances. And UConn has never had any success against West Virginia. The Mountaineers win but don't feel too good about beating a heartbroken opponent.

Cincinnati 27, Louisville 17: I look for this game to be a little closer than you might expect for a couple of reasons. One is obviously the quarterback uncertainty. Whether Brian Kelly goes with one of his backups, Zach Collaros or Chazz Anderson, or if Tony Pike plays through his forearm injury, the Bearcats would be wise to keep things a little more button-down than usual on offense. The second reason is that Louisville always seems to play well against Cincinnati, including last year when the game was still in the balance into the fourth quarter. The Bearcats will never seriously be threatened, but they'll be happy just to get a win and give Pike another week to heal.

Syracuse 35, Akron 16: The Zips are just 1-5, with their only win against Morgan State. But there's no chance that Syracuse will take them lightly after last year's upset loss to Akron in the Carrier Dome. With two weeks to get ready for this game and revenge in their minds, the Orange will come out strong and put this one away early.

Last week: 4-0

Season: 35-6 (85.4 percent).