Big East Conference News and Notes

9:18 AM, Sep 24, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

CINCINNATI: The Bearcats had a bye this past weekend after opening the season with wins in the first two games. Up next Cincinnati will face off with Virginia Tech in a neutral site game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

CONNECTICUT: In the second of an early two-game road trip the Huskies fell 30-24 to Western Michigan at Waldo Stadium. The Huskies have not recorded a win on the road since a 17-3 victory over Buffalo last September. Lyle McCombs climbed up the ranks of the top rushers in the conference with his best game of the season, as the sophomore gained 119 yards on 23 carries. McCombs is now ranked third in the conference in rushing yards. Chandler Whitmer threw for 333 yards and three scores on 28-of-44 passing. Whitmer's efforts came despite constant pressure from the Broncos' defense as he was sacked six times in the game. Geremy Davis had a strong game as he has established himself as Whitmer's favored receiver. Davis caught nine passes for 123 yards and a score in the contest. He has now caught 17 passes for 236 yards this season which is ranked seventh in the Big East. Connecticut has had one of the best defenses in the league this season but the Huskies struggled against Western Michigan surrendering a season-highs in yards (330) and points (30). Part of the issue was the Huskies' inability to penetrate the Broncos' offensive line as the squad managed only two tackles for loss after entering the game ranked first in the nation in the category (10.67 per game). Connecticut returns home to Rentschler Field next weekend as the Huskies host Buffalo.

LOUISVILLE: It wasn't as easy a game as they may have liked but the Cardinals remained undefeated through the first four games of the season with a 28-21 win on the road over FIU. The Cardinals effort kept them even at No. 19 in the most recent AP Top 25. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater looked flustered for the first time this season as despite throwing for two touchdowns and 194 yards he also tossed a pair of interceptions and had more incompletions (17) than he had through the first three games. Bridgewater had gone 96 straight passes this season without an interception before being picked off in the first quarter. With Bridgewater struggling the Cardinals were out-gained for the first time this season although by a slim 326-323 margin. Running back Senorise Perry contributed in all aspects of the game with a team-high 99 all purpose yards. Perry, who rushed for 74 yards in the game, is currently fourth in the conference in rushing. Right behind him is teammate Jeremy Wright, who had only 43 yards against FIU. Sustaining long scoring drives continues to be a trend for Louisville as the squad had three scoring drives of at least 12 plays and 70 yards while going 4-for-4 with four touchdowns in the red zone. Louisville will again be on the road next weekend when the Cardinals take on Southern Miss in Hattiesburg.

PITTSBURGH: After dropping its first two games of the season, the Panthers have rebounded after a 55-10 rout of Gardner-Webb, giving the squad wins in consecutive weeks. It is the first time the Panthers have won back-to-back games since taking the first two games of last season. Pittsburgh is now 11-1 all-time against FCS competitions although the lone loss came this season in a 31-17 setback to Youngstown State on opening weekend. The Panthers finished the game with 626 total yards, which was the most in a contest by the Panthers since 1997. Pittsburgh had 537 total yards last weekend against Virginia Tech and has now accumulated 500 or more yards in consecutive games for the first time since 1992. Quarterback Tino Sunseri completed 18-of-24 pass attempts for 344 yard and three scores in the game. He is currently ranked second in the Big East in passing yards while leading the conference in quarterback rating (166.8). Wideout Mike Shanahan moved up to second in the conference in receiving yards (368) after a career-high 144 receiving yards, which included a pair of touchdowns. Ray Graham ran for 94 yards on eight carries in the game with the majority of that coming on a 78-yard run in the first quarter. It was the second longest rush of his career for the current second-ranked rusher in the Big East. Pittsburgh's defense was punishing against Gardner-Webb, allowing only 127 yards and 2.5 yards per play. Pittsburgh will get a chance to move over .500 when it travels to the Carrier Dome to play Syracuse next weekend.

RUTGERS: No longer is Louisville the only ranked team in the conference as Rutgers moved into the top-25 with a 35-26 win on the road over Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights are now ranked No. 22 marking the first time they have reached into the national rankings since 2009 and only the sixth season in program history in which they have earned a national ranking. First year head coach Kyle Flood is the first Rutgers head coach to begin his career 4-0 since John Bateman in 1960. Rutgers rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to earn the win behind the arm of Gary Nova who threw for 397 yards and five touchdowns on 25- for-35 passing. His touchdown, yards and completion totals were all career- highs. For the fourth time in as many games Jawan Jamison finished with 100 yards rushing in the win. The running back carried the ball 33 times for 118 yards and is currently ranked at the top of the Big East in rushing yards (501). His total is nearly 150 yards more than the second best rusher. Brandon Coleman now leads the conference in receiving touchdowns after he caught a pair of scores in the win. Rutgers controlled the clock in the game with 39:02 time of possession. The offense needed to step up with the usually vaunted Rutgers' defense allowing a season-high 492 yards against Arkansas. Khaseem Greene recorded seven total tackles in the game and is now ranked 10th in school history in the category. The Scarlet Knights had only one sack in the game but allowed only 2-of-11 conversions on third down. Rutgers has a bye next week before playing its second conference game of the season against Connecticut.

SOUTH FLORIDA: For the second consecutive week the South Florida Bulls wound up on the losing end, as they fell 31-27 on the road to Ball State. The Bulls led 27-24 after a 99-yard drive was capped off with a 29-yard touchdown pass from B.J. Daniels to Lindsey Lamar, but the Bulls couldn't hold off the Cardinals to escape with the win. Daniels threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns but was also intercepted twice, while completing 19-of-30 pass attempts. A 58-yard pass to Terrence Mitchell in the second quarter gave Daniels his fourth 50-plus yard pass of the season. Daniels was also the team's leading rusher with 75 yards on the ground. Lamar caught a pair of touchdown passes while totaling 80 yards receiving. Lamar also ran the ball well in the game with 55 yards on 11 carries. The Bulls ran for 206 yards as a team. The loss came despite an impressive 11-for-16 conversion rate on third down by the Bulls, as they twice settled for field goals in the red zone. The Bulls lost also came despite a 518-413 edge in total yards. South Florida did not record a sack or a tackle for loss in the game. It won't be an easy task for the Bulls as they attempt to bounce back next week with a matchup at home against No. 4 Florida State.

SYRACUSE: Despite a historical day for wideout Alec Lemon, the Syracuse Orange were unable to get a win on the road with a 17-10 loss to Minnesota. Lemon became Syracuse's all-time leader in receptions with a nine-catch performance for 106 yards in the losing effort. He has caught a pass in 19 consecutive games dating back to 2010. Syracuse is now 1-3 on the season with the only win coming against Stony Brook of the FCS. Ryan Nassib topped the 600-completion mark for his career by connecting on 21-of-31 passes for 228 yards, but the senior quarterback was also intercepted twice in the game. Even with the performance Nassib still leads the Big East in passing yards (1,367) this season and is currently third in completion percentage (66.3). Conference- leading receiver Marcus Sales caught a touchdown pass but had only 32 yards receiving in the loss. The Orange actually out gained Minnesota by a 350-337 margin but turned only 2-of-3 chances in the red zone into points while converting only 4-of-13 attempts on third down. Siriki Diabate finished the game with a team-high 10 tackles which was also a career-high. Defensive end Micah Robinson had the first sack of his career. It was the only one by the Orange in the contest. The Orange are off next week giving the squad two weeks to prepare for its Big East conference opener at home against Pittsburgh.

TEMPLE: In a battle of Keystone State rivals the Owls fell 24-13 in Happy Valley to Penn State. The loss was the 23rd straight loss for the Owls in the series and the 30th including the seven losses that were vacated from Penn State due to the NCAA sanctions brought down early this year. Temple has not beaten Penn State since 1941. The Owls gained only 237 total yards in the game and are currently ranked last in the Big East in offensive production averaging 276.3 yards per game. Temple has been particularly poor in the passing game with 363 yards through the air after accumulating 124 against Penn State. Quarterback Chris Coyer made his seventh straight start under center but completed only 50 percent (13-of-26) oh his passing attempts, while also tossing a touchdown. Coyer also rushed for a team-high 64 yards making him responsible for 188 yards of the teams total offensive production. Montel Harris and Matt Brown combined for only 49 yards on 14 carries, while Harris was the team's leading receiver with 42 yards on three receptions. The Owls' pass defense, which ranked 22nd in the nation entering the game, was lit up for 318 yards by Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin. A bye week will give Temple extra time to recover from its second straight loss and to prepare for its Big East conference opener against South Florida.

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