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Big East Picks: Is Bluegrass Victory Finally in the Cards?

Sep 18, 2009 – 12:00 PM
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Brett McMurphy

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Steve KragthorpeWhen Louisville visits Kentucky Saturday, Lexington police officials said they will increase security around Commonwealth Stadium with an additional three dozen officers. But enough about the added protection they're providing to make sure basketball coaches John Calipari and Rick Pitino get to their seats safely.

This game is for the Governor's Cup. The trophy weighs 110 pounds or approximately the same weight of the monkey resting squarely on Steve Kragthorpe's back as he tries to avoid becoming the first Cardinals coach to lose three consecutive games to Kentucky.

While Kragthorpe has not enjoyed the success most expected when he took over in 2007, he has maintained his sense of humor. At this week's press conference, he joked that the reason for Louisville's very vanilla offense in its lackluster season opener was because the Cards weren't showing their cards and only used two percent of the playbook.

"We got a little Wishbone package," Kragthorpe said. "I just got off the phone with Barry Switzer."

Switzer may have called, but he was trying to see if Kragthorpe could put him in touch with Pitino. Switzer wanted to make dinner reservations for two at Porcini's restaurant in Louisville, known for its final Northern Italian cuisine -- among other things.

This game should be a blowout: Kentucky enters on a 15-game winning streak in non-conference games, while UL enters with a shaky offense, a coach whose seat is getting hotter and a quarterback making only his second career start.

Then again, crazier things have happened in rivalry games. Call me crazy. Running back Victor Anderson leads the two-TD underdog Cards to the upset.

Cincinnati at Oregon State: Bearcats coach Brian Kelly joked that a few of his players probably couldn't find Oregon on a map. The Bearcats, though, have had no trouble finding the end zone, averaging 58.5 points this season. True, the season is only two games old, but Oregon State has the nation's 26th-worst pass defense. That's not good, especially going against UC QB Tony Pike. The game is rated even, but the Bearcats are too strong offensively and continue their climb up the national rankings.

West Virginia at Auburn: After every Auburn home victory, the locals "roll" Toomer's Corner, at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue. The oak trees -- and anything else that doesn't move -- are engulfed with toilet paper. West Virginia fans prefer burning couches after games. If the two fan bases aren't careful, the whole city might go up in flames Saturday night. Auburn will be on fire to get revenge from last year's loss at WVU and easily covers the 7-1/2 points.

UConn at Baylor: The Huskies are without their starting quarterback and may be without their best defensive player. Plus they have to travel to Waco, Texas -- have you ever been to Waco? -- and are coming off last week's fluky two-point loss to North Carolina. Baylor and athletic QB Robert Griffin easily hurdle the Huskies and the 10-point spread.

Northwestern at Syracuse: The Orange has lost the past two weeks to Big Ten opponents and faces another Big Ten club this weekend. If Syracuse doesn't win here, the Orange could become the first team in NCAA history to finish dead last in two conferences in the same season. That ain't gonna happen. The 3-point home underdogs pull off the small shocker as QB Greg Paulus looks frantically for nets to cut down after the upset.

Florida International at Rutgers: FIU actually was scheduled to play USF this week, but in January the Golden Panthers paid $200,000 to buy out of the game. FIU then signed a home-and-home deal with Rutgers. So instead of losing big at USF Saturday, FIU will lose big at RU. But hey, at least FIU gets a home game with Rutgers in 2010 out of the deal. Led by freshman QB Tom Savage, the Scarlet Knights cover the 14.

Navy at Pittsburgh: Little known fact about the Panthers. Since the Big East was formed in 1991, the Panthers have never gone undefeated in non-conference play. Some how, some way, some where Pitt always stumbles. Not this week. Pitt survives, but Navy's option attack keeps it within seven.

Charleston Southern at USF (no line): Less said the ... USF 52-6.

The not-as-gory-as-last week details:

Last week: 7-0 straight up; 2-3 against the spread

Season: 13-1 straight up; 2-6 against the spread

Each week FanHouse Big East writer Brett McMurphy will preview the Big East and make his weekly predictions.

Filed under: Sports