September 9, 2010

Week 2 preview in the Big East

MORE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | MWC | Pac-10 | SEC | Others

West Virginia at Marshall, 7 p.m.
Indiana State at Cincinnati, noon
Texas Southern at Connecticut, noon
USF at Florida, 12:20 p.m.
New Hampshire at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Eastern Kentucky at Louisville, 3:30 p.m.
Syracuse at Washington, 7 p.m.
Rutgers at Florida International, 8 p.m.

Skip Holtz remembers hearing about USF's landmark 17-7 win at Florida State last season.

Of course, at the time, Holtz was the coach at East Carolina and didn't know he would reap some of the benefits.

"That's one of those shockers that everyone puts up," Holtz said. "I remember the impression I had, which was probably like everyone else, which was, 'Big win for the Bulls. That will help elevate them in the state.' "

USF's quest to join the top programs in the state endured a setback with a 31-10 loss to Miami late last season, but the Bulls continue to have opportunities to prove themselves against the big boys in the Sunshine State. Saturday, USF plays at Florida in the first meeting between the schools.

For its part, Florida will be on its toes, something that might not have been the case for Florida State last season. The Seminoles faced a quarterback, B.J. Daniels, making his first career start because of an injury to Matt Grothe.

"[USF is] extremely talented, probably top-25 team, top-15 team, with a lot of talent [and] with an athletic quarterback that creates a problem," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "This is an SEC-caliber team we are playing."

The Bulls have hopes of upsetting a Gators team that struggled on offense in a 34-12 win over Miami (Ohio). USF is 9-2 against teams in the state, but 1-2 against Florida State and Miami. The Bulls' scheduling strategy has shifted in recent years, as USF has dropped UCF and most of the games with Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

In its place, USF faces Miami later this season and in each of the next three seasons. The Bulls get a return trip from Florida State in 2012 and another trip to Florida in 2015.

"It's huge for us," Holtz said. "This is something that's been talked about since I came here. Having the opportunity to play Florida, having the opportunity to play Florida State a year ago and Miami is on the schedule - that's where we aspire to be. As a young program, we're not there yet."

For Holtz and Meyer, this game also is personal. Meyer replaced Holtz as Colorado State's wide receivers coach in 1990, and when a spot opened on Lou Holtz's staff at Notre Dame after the 1995 season, Skip recommended Meyer for the job. The wide receivers job at Notre Dame turned out to be Meyer's big break. He stayed on the staff with Bob Davie for four more seasons before taking his first head-coaching job, at Bowling Green.

"I've always said I thought he was really going to be special," Skip Holtz said.

Despite their shared history, Holtz and Meyer never have been on opposing sidelines. A game between South Carolina (where Skip served as his father's offensive coordinator) and Bowling Green (where Meyer was coach) was on the schedule in 2001, but the game was canceled after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Just like the meeting between the coaches may be overdue, so is the meeting between the two programs separated by 120 miles on Interstate 75.

"I'm sure the text messaging, e-mails and phone calls are flying through Gainesville and Tampa this week," Holtz said.

The messages, though, might not be limited to players and fans.

Best matchup: Rutgers CBs Brandon Bing and David Rowe vs. Florida International WR T.Y. Hilton. Truthfully, the entire Rutgers defense and special teams need to be prepared for Hilton. He battled injuries last season and still finished with 632 receiving yards and five touchdowns along with an average of 28.8 yards per kickoff return; he scored on a return against Alabama. As a freshman, Hilton finished with 1,013 receiving yards and scored at least one touchdown on the ground, via the air, on a kickoff return and on a punt return.

Player on the spot: Cincinnati WR Marcus Barnett. Barnett will assume the starting receiver spot opened by the season-ending torn ACL injury to Vidal Hazelton, who was newly eligible after his transfer from USC. Barnett was a freshman All-America with 62 catches for 862 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2007. He disappeared over the past two seasons, though, making just 40 catches since his freshman year. "Now is his opportunity to come in and make amends for the last couple of years," Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said.

Numbers game: Louisville averaged 5.9 yards per carry against Kentucky. The Cardinals matched or exceeded that number just four times in three seasons under Steve Kragthorpe. Senior Bilal Powell led the Cardinals with a career-high 153 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

What they're saying:

"Ryan is a very bright kid. I'm talking about from an academic standpoint. He has a 3.7 GPA in a difficult major. He's a student of the game. People refer to him as a gym rat. He knows what he needs to do to be successful, and he's really in tune with what he's doing." - Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, on sophomore QB Ryan Nassib, who is having to make his first two career starts on the road.

"It makes us look embarrassed. We should be embarrassed. That's way too many sacks for the offensive line to give up in one game. We got [QB] Zach [Collaros] rattled. Zach was getting hit so much. That's on us. We're supposed to make him feel comfortable back there so he can make plays." - Cincinnati C Jason Kelce, to the Cincinnati Enquirer, after the Bearcats gave up eight sacks in a loss last week to Fresno State

"Number one, I think that he was getting double-teamed a lot; they were chipping him a lot. Number two, he knocked down two or three passes. The ball was coming out so quick that there wasn't a five-step, seven-step dropback pass: Everything was play-pass or it was three-stepping, it was out." - Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, on star DE Greg Romeus, who didn't have any sacks against Utah

"I think there's a time when you need to throw the ball hard and a time when you don't. I think Zach let the wind get to him a little bit. I remember one pass to John Delahunt across the middle that was like a Nolan Ryan fastball from about 30 feet at 100 miles per hour. I thought Zach had done a very good job during the preseason with putting more touch on his passes. I think there were some times during the game where he was trying too hard." - Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, on QB Zach Frazer

"He's the greatest team player we ever had. He's a tremendous role model. I don't understand that business up there. It's not my place to understand. I'm just a Patrick White fan. I'm going to try in every shape or form to help him. I'll make calls or do what I can to help him latch on with somebody else. He's a winner and he makes plays when he gets on the field. I know there's a lot of ball left in Patrick. I'm sure he feels the same way." - West Virginia coach Bill Stewart, on former Mountaineers QB Pat White, who was cut by the Miami Dolphins this week

Etc.: Rutgers coach Greg Schiano will face a former assistant in Florida International coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal coached tight ends at Rutgers (2001-03) under Schiano and at Miami (2004-06) before taking the FIU job in 2007. ... West Virginia coach Bill Stewart also will face a former assistant in Marshall coach Doc Holliday. Holliday was an assistant at West Virginia from 1983-99 and 2008-09 ... After allowing eight sacks to Fresno State, Cincinnati will re-open competition on the offensive line. Any changes in the starting five will be announced today. ... Pittsburgh's 2.3 yards per carry against Utah was the Panthers' lowest average since rushing for 1.3 yards per carry Nov. 22, 2008, in a 28-21 loss to Cincinnati. ... Pittsburgh dropped from No. 15 in the preseason coaches' poll to unranked in the post-week one top-25. ... Connecticut LB Scott Lutrus may have sustained an injury against Michigan, but coach Randy Edsall declines to address injuries. Lutrus was listed on Connecticut's depth chart for the week. ... The status of Louisville WRs Josh Bellamy (concussion) and Troy Pascley (knee) is unknown for the Eastern Kentucky game. ... Pittsburgh starting SS Dom DeCicco (hamstring) and backup SS Andrew Taglianetti are questionable this week. ... Rutgers RB Kordell Young (personal issues) returned to practice and could play against FIU. ... The Big East and Conference USA led all conferences with five blocked kicks last week. Rutgers and SMU are the only teams with two blocked kicks this season. ... West Virginia is the only Big East team in the coaches' poll this week; WVU is ranked 22nd.

David Fox is a national writer for He can be reached at

FEATURED PRODUCT is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
Site-specific editorial/photos Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved. This website is an officially and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school or team.
About | Advertise with Us | Contact | Privacy Policy | About our Ads | Terms of Service | Copyright/IP policy | Yahoo! Sports - NBC Sports Network

Statistical information 2007 STATS LLC All Rights Reserved.