Cincinnati Will Scale Mountaineers
Entering this season, West Virginia's 22-6 record in Big East play was a whopping five games better than the next best league team. Nobody had done it better -- or even came close.
But times, they are a changin'.
It started last season with Cincinnati winning its first league title and the Bearcats are on pace for a second consecutive title this season.
Friday, West Virginia visits Cincinnati and the national television audience can watch how these programs are heading in different directions.
In their last five games, the Mountaineers' once-vaunted running game is averaging 160 yards rushing. By comparison, Cincinnati is averaging 179 yards rushing in the same span.
And there isn't a hotter quarterback in the country than Cincinnati's Zach Collaros. Also, Tony Pike should play against a West Virginia pass defense that is the league's third-worst.
Yet there are subtle concerns for the Bearcats. Last week, Cincinnati's defense was shredded for 45 points by UConn. Now, the Bearcats face a team that has dominated them; West Virginia owns a 14-2-1 advantage against the Bearcats and has never lost in Cincinnati. Yet the Mountaineers are still nine-point underdogs?
It seems the folks in Vegas are begging you to take WVU and the points. No thanks, I'll take the much better Bearcats, who romp over the Mountaineers and cover.
With Thursday night's Rutgers rout of South Florida, I've now hit nine of my last 13 against the spread, including last week's perfect 3-0 record, as I threaten to -- gasp -- climb above .500.
On to the remaining games:
Notre Dame at Pittsburgh: Cincinnati fans will be rooting for Notre Dame. It's not that they want a fellow Big East member to lose, it's just they're scared to death of the Brian Kelly to Notre Dame rumors. And another loss by Charlie Weis certainly won't quiet the speculation. Sorry Cincinnati fans -- and sorry, Charlie -- the Panthers remain on a roll offensively and defensively and cover the 6 1/2 points.
Syracuse at Louisville: The Basement Bowl. The Big East's version of the Repus Bowl (that's Super Bowl backwards). Call it whatever you wish, but it's Syracuse and Louisville: a tremendous matchup in basketball, but a loser-is-in-last-place matchup in football. This week, Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe admitted that UL fans don't like him, but asked the fans to still come out and support the players. If Kragthorpe can stop a two-game slide against the depleted Orange, they might like him a little bit more. Nah, you're right, they probably won't, but UL wins and covers the 7 1/2.
About Last Night: Another easy Thursday night winner. On my Twitter page Thursday I posted: "Tonight, Rutgers' home field & Tim Brown too much for USF, playing w/out WR Carlton Mitchell."
Last Week: 3-0 (straight up); 3-0 (against the spread)
Season: 44-9 (83 percent) (straight up); 20-22-1 (47.6 percent) (against the spread)