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Big East Week 13 Preview and Predictions


Rutgers and Pittsburgh will play this week in what’s an important Big East game ... for now. The Scarlet Knights are seeking their first Big East title, and Pittsburgh is looking for a bowl game.

After that, it’s off to the ACC for Pittsburgh next season, and then Rutgers to the Big Ten in two years. Elsewhere, UConn and Louisville will face each other this week in a game between teams hoping to get called up to the ACC.

For another year, the Big East season has been marred by realignment. Last season it was Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC, West Virginia and never-was Big East member TCU to the Big 12. Conference movement chaos continues to loom over the league even with the Big East title up for grabs in the final two weeks.

Other Week 13 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big East’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 13:

How does Rutgers manage its new running back tandem?

Hobbled with an ankle injury, Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison carried the ball only four times for 37 yards in the 10-3 win over Cincinnati last week. Jamison had been the focal point of the Scarlet Knights’ offense, but Rutgers learned it may have a formidable duo as Savon Huggins rushed for 179 yards on 41 carries. Rutgers coach Kyle Flood could use both this week against Cincinnati. Jamison’s elusiveness and Huggins’ physical style creates an intriguing complement. Splitting the carries may not be a bad idea, either, since both now have a 40-carry game under their belts this season.

Is a Pitt upset of Rutgers crazy enough to happen?
If we’ve learned anything this season, it’s that no one in the Big East can take anything for granted. In that sense, a Pittsburgh upset of Rutgers makes perfect sense. Regardless of what happens against Pitt, Rutgers’ hopes of a BCS bid and Big East title depend on next week’s finale against Louisville. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights’ offense remains prone to slow starts and turnovers. Ten of quarterback Gary Nova’s 12 interceptions this season have come in the last four games. One the other sideline, Pitt running back Ray Graham will face is half-brother Khaseem Greene, the likely Big East defensive player of the year. Graham rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown in the 34-10 loss to Rutgers and Greene last season.

Can UConn follow Syracuse in exposing the Louisville defense?
In short, not likely. The drop-off from Ryan Nassib and the Syracuse run game to what Connecticut has to offer is fairly steep. Even after rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown against Pitt, UConn still ranks last in the Big East in rushing and scoring offense. The Huskies had rushed for 178 yards total in Big East play prior to the Pitt game. Worth watching for Louisville will be the role of Jeremy Wright as the Cardinals’ primary running back with Senorise Perry out for the remainder of the season. Louisville rushed for only 48 yards against Syracuse. Connecticut, meanwhile, ranks 11th nationally in rush defense (107.6 yards per game).

What does Montel Harris have in store for his final game?
The twisting and turning career for Montel Harris comes to an end this week against Syracuse, just a week after he had the best game of his career. The lightly recruited running back out of Jacksonville, Fla., wasn’t even the top running to sign with Boston College in 2008 (that would have been Josh Haden). Yet Harris ended up the program’s all-time leading rusher before he was dismissed for violations of team rules. He landed at Temple and rushed for a Big East-record 351 yards and seven touchdowns last week. What he finds against Syracuse is a mystery. In Big East play, the Orange allowed 154 rushing yards to Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville combined. Yet Syracuse also allowed 369 rushing yards to USF and 286 to Cincinnati.

How dire could Syracuse’s injury situation be?
In a conference call with reporters, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone said half of his offensive and defensive starters are on the injured list. However, he also said all are expected to play against Temple. Running backs Prince-Tyson Gulley and Jerome Smith both left last week’s win over Missouri with injuries, and wide receiver Marcus Sales and defensive tackle Jay Bromley are also hobbled. Marrone will find out Friday if these bumps and bruises are enough to even the score between the hottest team in the Big East against one of the coldest.

What’s the latest question for Cincinnati’s quarterback?
It seems every week is a new question for the Cincinnati quarterbacks from Munchie Legaux’s early inconsistency to the switch to Brendon Kay and now to the health of Kay. The fifth-year senior is questionable agains USF with an injury to his non-throwing elbow. Kay sustained the injury last week, but he never left the game against Rutgers. Legaux would return to the starting role if Kay is unable to play. The Bulls have their own quarterback quandary with redshirt Matt Floyd making his first career start. Floyd went 20 of 35 for 175 yards with two interceptions in relief of Bobby Eveld last week.

Week 13 Big East Predictions:

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Week 13 Big East Games

David Fox

Braden Gall

Steven Lassan

Mitch Light

Syracuse at Temple (Fri.)

Syracuse 35-10

Syracuse 30-17

Syracuse 34-20

Syracuse 34-13

USF at Cincinnati (Fri.)

Cincinnati 28-7

Cincinnati 24-20

Cincinnati 31-17

Cincinnati 21-17

UConn at Louisville

Louisville 31-13

Louisville 34-14

Louisville 34-17

Louisville 27-11

Rutgers at Pittsburgh

Rutgers 24-10

Rutgers 27-20

Pittsburgh 24-20

Rutgers 21-17

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