With the first week of college football in the books, fans can settle into routines of tailgating, road trips, and hopefully, solid play out of their favorite team. The Big East had an up and down Week 1 of the 2012 season. The top of the conference — Louisville, South Florida, Rutgers — looked as solid as advertised. The middle — Pittsburgh, UConn — gave performances on opposite ends of the spectrum. What will the rest of the season have in store for the most overlooked — rightfully so — conference in the land?
Without further ado, a What To Watch For edition of Laces Out, Big East style.
Pittsburgh Panthers (0-1, 0-0) at Cincinnati Bearcats (0-0, 0-0): The Bearcats spread attack is actually very similar to the scheme used by Youngstown State. Of course, Cincy has better athletes. Pittsburgh was embarrassed by the scheme and attack last week in a 31-17 home loss to the FBS opponent. The Bearcats are favored, but Pittsburgh is desperate.
North Carolina State Wolfpack at Connecticut Huskies (1-0, 0-0): UConn leads college football in total defense — after allowing only 59 yards last week to UMass — while N.C. State is coming off a turnover filled game against Tennessee. Keep an on third-down conversion rates between these two units. If UConn can keep Mike Glennon under 35%, the Huskies defense can get off the field and play ball control on offense. If N.C. State runs their offense well, it will be hard for UConn to keep up on the scoreboard.
Maryland Terrapins at Temple Owls (1-0, 0-0): This one comes down to the ground game. Temple looked strong and physical at the point of attack last week against Villanova. They’ll try to do it again this week against a Maryland team that nearly lost last weekend to William & Mary. If Temple can run it well, the Terps will be forced to play from behind, exposing their young QB Perry Hills.
Missouri State Bears at Louisville Cardinals (1-0, 0-0): Focus is the key here for the No. 23 team in the nation. On paper, this shouldn’t be a game. That being said, Louisville could be looking forward to an intriguing game with UNC later this month. Plus, they did lose to Florida International last year. Charlie Strong and Co. can prove how much they’ve grown by winning convincingly.
Howard Bison at Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0): Look for Kyle Flood to get Gary Nova some confidence against a group of athletes that Rutgers should outclass. The new Scarlet Knights quarterback was inconsistent last week against Tulane. Nova will need to feel better about his play before the Big East slate starts.
Southern California Trojans vs. Syracuse Orange (0-1, 0-0) at East Rutherford: Coming off a heartbreaking home loss to Northwestern, the Orange must be on their game to keep things competitive in East Rutherford against the most talented team in the country. While Ryan Nassib showed big play ability at quarterback for Syracuse, it will be nearly impossible to keep up with Matt Barkley in a shootout. Syracuse needs turnovers and special teams plays to keep this close.
South Florida Bulls (1-0, 0-0) at Nevada Wolf Pack: The best game of the slate in Week 2 will be out West. South Florida has won 17 straight non-conference games against teams outside the state of Florida since ‘06. This won’t be easy, though. B.J. Daniels is dynamic, but so is Wolf Pack quarterback Cody Fajardo accounted for nearly 350 yards between the ground and air last week against Cal.