Local, conference rivalries highlight Big East action

By Jay Huerbin

‘ ‘ ‘ As the Pittsburgh Panthers travel to Syracuse, N.Y., this Saturday to take on the Orange,… ‘ ‘ ‘ As the Pittsburgh Panthers travel to Syracuse, N.Y., this Saturday to take on the Orange, the remaining six Big East teams will all be in action this weekend. Connecticut at Louisville ‘ ‘ ‘ A Friday night contest between Connecticut (4-0) and Louisville (2-1) will kick off Big East action. ‘ ‘ ‘ The game, set to start at 8 p.m. and featured on ESPN2, will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Huskies defeated the Cardinals in East Hartford, Conn., last October. A late interception sealed the victory for the Huskies, who then improved to 6-1 and became bowl-eligible for only the third time in school history. ‘ ‘ ‘ Tomorrow, the Huskies, who won their only game on the road, travel to Louisville to take on a new Cardinals team. Connecticut is off to a 4-0 start for a second consecutive year. Much of the great start can be attributed to junior Donald Brown, whose 716 yards lead all NCAA running backs. ‘ ‘ ‘ Louisville has not ventured beyond its stadium this season. Since an opening loss to Kentucky, the Cardinals have beaten both Tennessee Tech and Kansas State at home. Senior quarterback Hunter Cantwell, whose 629 passing yards are good for fourth in the Big East, will power the Cardinals offense. Morgan State at Rutgers ‘ ‘ ‘ The Morgan State Bears (2-1) head to New Jersey on Saturday to take on Big East opponent Rutgers (0-3). The Bears, who hail from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, will play their first and only game against a Big East opponent. ‘ ‘ ‘ After losing their first game of the season, the Bears have responded with back-to-back wins against non-conference teams. Junior quarterback Carlton Jackson and sophomore running back Devon James lead the team offensively. ‘ ‘ ‘ For the Scarlet Knights, victory has not found the team this year. Still, senior quarterback Mike Teel is second in the Big East in passing yards. Following its game against the Bears, Rutgers will head to Mountaineer Field to take on West Virginia in its first Big East match of the season. Marshall at West Virginia ‘ ‘ ‘ The Thundering Herd of Marshall (3-1), the current Conference-USA East division leaders, visit Morgantown, W.Va., this Saturday to take on the Mountaineers (1-2) in their annual game. West Virginia traveled to Marshall last September for the first time in 92 years and defeated its in-state rival after a slow start. ‘ ‘ ‘ For Marshall, the team has started hot, having only lost its second game to Wisconsin. Aside from the loss, the Thundering Herd have had success in inter-conference play (2-0). Sophomore running back Darius Marshall is second in the Conference USA with 417 yards. ‘ ‘ ‘ West Virginia started the season ranked eighth nationally before upsets against Eastern Carolina and Colorado. Now, senior quarterback Pat White and the rest of the Mountaineer team will look to turn the season around. Cincinnati at Akron ‘ ‘ ‘ The Akron Zips (2-2) play host to the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-1) this Saturday afternoon. ‘ ‘ ‘ Having already beaten one Big East team this season (Syracuse), the Zips will look to go two for two after playing the Bearcats. Akron’s wide receiving duo of junior Deryn Bowser and senior Andre Jones will look to power the Zips’ offense as it feeds off the momentum from beating Army last week. ‘ ‘ ‘ After beating rival Miami (Ohio) last week, junior quarterback Tony Pike hopes to lead his team to another victory. After senior Dustin Grutza broke his leg in the Bearcats’ loss at Oklahoma, Pike won his only start this season. Cincinnati will face Marshall next Friday in a nationally televised game. South Florida at North Carolina State ‘ ‘ ‘ The Big East’s only ranked team, No. 13 South Florida (4-0), will journey to Raleigh, N.C., this Saturday to take on ACC opponent North Carolina State (2-2). ‘ ‘ ‘ The Wolfpack enter the game on a high after upsetting then No. 15 East Carolina in overtime. They have won both home games this season. This will be N.C. State’s only game against the Big East this season. ‘ ‘ ‘ Quarterback Matt Grothe, the Bulls’ redshirt junior, leads the Big East in passing yards and will carry the offense as South Florida hopes to improve to 5-0 for the second consecutive season. The Bulls will have a short week following the Wolfpack game as they host Pitt in a primetime game next Thursday.