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Big East: Week 10 Preview

Well we're already 1-0 this week, although we can't seem to remember what game that was. We remember something about our pants being off, but other than that we're totally drawing a blank.

Just two Big East games on the slate for the second straight week, and since one was Thursday's mystery game, this essentially becomes (read: is) a Pittsburgh/South Florida preview.

Things will get back to normal next weekend when all eight teams will be in action in four games, including Thursday night's Rutgers/Louisville showdown (Our SEC readers are now frantically searching for a towel to clean the vomit from their computer).

Pitt (6-2, 2-1) at South Florida (5-3, 1-2)

Time/TV: Noon/ESPN Regional

Favorite: Pitt by 4

Much is on the line in a game that next to no one will see or care about. Pitt will look to keep alive its slim hopes for a conference title, while South Florida is trying to become bowl eligible for the second straight season.

The contest presents a very intriguing contrast in quarterbacks with feisty/fiery/kind of a dick senior Pitt QB Tyler Palko going up against the gritty South Florida freshman QB Matt "Gunner/Herbert" Grothe.

Palko lost his status as the nation's leader in passing efficiency due to a predictably poor outing against Rutgers two weeks ago, and now sits in second behind Colt Brennan of Hawaii in the category. Grothe comes into the game as the nation's top freshman in total offense (264.0), and is 13th overall.

Grothe is coming off the worst performance of his young career, picking up just 74 all-purpose yards in a 23-6 loss to Cincinnati two weeks ago. But Gunner/Herbert and the Bulls have been much better at home where they're 3-1 with their lone loss being a 22-20 heartbreaker to undefeated Rutgers.

This could be a nickname deciding performance
for young Matt

Panther sophomore LaRod Stephens-Howling has stepped his game up as of late, rushing for over 100 yards in two of Pitt's last three games. Stephens-Howling has 618 yards and six touchdowns thus far this season.

In last year's meeting, Pittsburgh defeated USF, 31-17, on Oct. 15 at Heinz Field.  Palko threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns and Stephens- Howling rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries. Two years ago Palko threw for a career-high 411 yards and five TDs against the Bulls.

We love Gunner Grothe and the Bulls at home, but Pitt has 21 players from the state of Florida so perhaps that will neutralize the home-field advantage. Of course Louisville had 22 guys from the Sunshine State a year ago and that didn't help them when they went to Raymond James Stadium in "The Game We Do Not Speak Of," even though we just did. Still we see this as the turning point for a Pitt team looking to become the perfect blend of talented young and veteran players that we've been saying they'll eventually be since the beginning of the season.

It's close early, but Pitt has a big second half and it starts a season-ending tear for the Panthers.

CC Prediction: Pitt 29, South Florida 20

Last Week: 2-0 (plus 1-0 this week)

Season: 44-4