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Week Three Big East Preview

PITSBURGH (2-0) AT MICHIGAN STATE (2-0)

Time/TV: Noon/ESPN

Favorite: Michigan State by 11.5

The second week of the Kevan Smith era will get a huge bump in competition as the Panthers head to East Lansing to take on a John L. Smith-less Michigan State team that is playing accordingly.

While Smith put up decent numbers last week against Grambling, the real reason to tune in this afternoon is sensational freshman running back LeSean McCoy. McCoy is still listed as the backup behind junior LaRod Stephens-Howling, but Stephens-Howling is nursing bruised ribs he suffered in the game a week ago, an injury that allowed McCoy to come in and run for 107 yards and three touchdowns.

With an inexperienced Smith playing against a quality opponent for the first time, you can expect to see two Big Ten style offenses on the field. Pitt is playing without leading tackler Gus Mustakas for the first time, and still sports a highly inexperienced linebacker unit, so expect uber-talented Dayton native Javon Ringer to run wild early and often.

The Panthers managed to spring a big second half comeback after falling behind early in this game a year ago, but Tyler Palko won't be wearing royal blue and John L. Smith won't be wearing green today.

CC Prediction: Michigan State 34, Pittsburgh 14

ILLINOIS (1-1) AT SYRACUSE (0-2)

Time/TV: Noon/ESPNU

Favorite: Illinois by 11.5

Two weeks in a row I've picked the 'Cuse to lose in barn-burners, and two weeks in a row they've humiliated me. Well guess what? Until you keep a game within two touchdowns, you're not getting an honest game preview OR recap. Show me something Robinsons.  

The only team in the conference with a loss picks up its third.

CC Prediction: Illinois 27, Syracuse 7

CINCINNATI (2-0) AT MIAMI OF OHIO (1-1)

Time/TV: Noon/ESPN Regional

Favorite: Cincinnati by 7

One of the oldest rivalries in college football resumes on Saturday, as Cincinnati and Miami meet for the 112th time with the Victory Bell on the line.

Brian Kelly and the Bearcats are still searching for respect after a 34-3 thrashing of Oregon State earned them enough AP votes to be ranked just behind Appalachian State, and the confidence of line setters to tab them as a mere touchdown favorite over their in-state rivals from the MAC.

The Redhawks have a full-fledged quarterback battle on their hands after backup Daniel Raudabaug came in late and brought MU back from a 28-12 fourth quarter deficit in last weekend's triple overtime loss to Minnesota. He replaced two-year starter Mike Kokal, who will likely be the Redhawk beginning the game under center this afternoon.

It may be a blessing in disguise for the Redhawk who doesn't get the start today, as Miami will face a defense that has allowed just six points and recorded an astounding 13 turnovers through two games. Kokal and Raudabaug will be facing one of the top secondaries in the Big East, led by cornerbacks Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith and saftey Haruki Nakamura, all of whom have intercepted two passes.

Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk has taken to Brian Kelly's spread offense like Chipper Jones taking to Mets pitching, throwing for 443 yards and four touchdowns in his first two starts as a Bearcat. He's managed to spread the ball around as nine Bearcats have recorded at least two receptions, and no one has caught more than one TD pass.

This has the feel of a dangerous game for a UC, but that defense is just too talented to slip up enough for a Miami victory.

CC Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Miami of Ohio 10

TEMPLE (0-2) AT CONNECTICUT (2-0)

Time/TV: Noon/Local

Favorite: Connecticut by 29.5

Temple was favored against Buffalo last week, and lost 42-7. I think if I wrote anymore I'd be doing all of us a disservice.

CC Prediction: Connecticut 45, Temple 7

NORFOLK STATE (1-0) AT RUTGERS (2-0)

Time/TV: 3:30/Local

Favorite: No Line

Ray Rice has carried the ball 62 times in two games, but can expect a nice break in the second half today...or whenever his stats are Heisman-worthy.

CC Precition: Rutgers 42, Norfolk State 3