While no true conference games are to be played this weekend, the teams remaining in the Big East Conference can make a statement beginning this weekend that their conference is still one to be reckoned with (and one that is BCS bid worthy) as they head into some critical out of conference matchups. These cross-conference matchups include opponents from the ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA, and the MAC. Games involving Big East teams begin on Thursday night and last through Sunday evening. That being said, here is a look at this week's ledger...and maybe a few prognostications as well.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
9/4 - Michigan State at Rutgers - For years we've heard about Rutgers "turning the corner",
only to see them fall down before they get there. With stellar recruiting classes in the last
two seasons, Rutgers seems to be poised to make some noise soon. Michigan State did well
last season under first year head coach John L. Smith (formerly of Louisville), but lost a lot of
playmakers including starting QB Jeff Smoker. The Rutgers faithful have waited a long time
for a big season, and this could be the year. Rutgers needs a big win, and this is the right time
and the right team.
9/4 - Virginia at Temple - Temple's final Big East season was supposed to be 2003, but
following the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech, and the delayed entrance of Louisville,
Cincinnati, and South Florida, the Owls were retained for another season. They are led by QB
Walter Washington but he seems to be one of the few playmakers on the team. Virginia has
done very well under Al Groh, and this could be their best year under Groh yet. This game is
at Temple, but that isn't much, if any, of a home field advantage.
9/2 - Boston College at Ball State - Like Temple, the 2004 season will be the last in the Big
East for Boston College. The Eagles actually get a headstart on everyone else with this
Thursday night game at Ball State of the MAC. BC hosted Ball State last season and scored a
53-29 victory that wasn't even as close as the score indicated. The Eagles are primed to
make a BCS run, and that has to begin with games like these. It will.
9/4 - East Carolina at West Virginia - The hills of West Virginia have been resounding with the
sounds of Mountaineer Football for months, and the Gold and Blue faithful say this could be
the best team since the days of Major Harris in the late 1980s. East Carolina is a polar
opposite. The Pirates had a rough 1-11 start last year under first year head coach John
Thompson. The Pirates have also brought in Noah Brindise, formerly a member of Steve
Spurrier's staff with the Redskins, as the new offensive coordinator to run a variation of the
famed Fun N' Gun. East Carolina is on their way back to the top of C-USA, but it won't get
much of a start in this one.
9/4 - Murray State at Connecticut - Connecticut is stacked on offense. Murray State...is not.
9/4 - Pitt at South Florida - When the new teams for the Big East enter in 2005, South Florida
will be one of them. Pitt was a charter member way back in 1991. These teams have met
once before, in the 2001 season (South Florida's first in Division I-A) with South Florida
shocking the Panthers at home, 35-26. This time the game is on the Bulls' turf, and USF is
33-4 at home in Raymond James Stadium. Pitt has been depleted both by injury, academics,
and graduation. Those factors will be the difference against a hungry USF team.
Stay tuned for all the Big East action all season long on SouthernCollegeSports.com. If you have any questions or comments, regardless of who "your team" is, fire off an email to me using the Contact Brad link at the top of the page.
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