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Week Two Big East Weekend Preview

WEST VIRGINIA (1-0) AT MARSHALL (0-1)

Time/TV: 11 a.m./ESPN2

Favorite: West Virginia by 24

Marshall will host West Virgina for the first time in history as the two in-state rivals will meet in the second annual (ugh) "Friends of Coal Bowl."

There was a time not too long ago when a 28-point loss to Miami would have been a respectable achievement for a MAC team, but the days of McGahee and Dorsey are as long gone as those of Pennington and Moss, and the Thundering Herd's 31-3 loss in the OB last weekend doesn't bode well for their immediate future. Neither does the fact that in that game the Herd managed just 51 yards on the ground, and their starting quarterback, Bernard Morris, threw three interceptions.

A year ago Slaton went for over 200 yards and White threw for two scores as the Mountaineers romped 42-10, this year with Marshall missing leading tackler Albert McClellan, it could be even worse.

Check that, it will be even worse.

CC Prediction: West Virginia 55, Marshall 17

GRAMBLING STATE (1-0) AT PITTSBURGH (1-0)

Time/TV: Noon/ESPN360

Favorite: No Line

This game basically amounts to a quarterback tryout for the Michigan State game for Bill Stull and Pat Bostick, and that's really the only reason to pay any attention.

CC Prediction: Pittsburgh 27, Grambling State 7

MAINE (1-0) AT CONNECTICUT (1-0)

Time/TV: 7 p.m./Local

Favorite: No Line

Old Yankee Conference rivals, Maine and Connecticut will meet on Saturday for the first time since the Huskies made the jump to Division I-A in 2000.

The Black Bears have had some success playing D-1 opponents in the past, knocking off Mississippi State in 2002, and hanging right with Boston College and Nebraska in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

"We think we can play with anybody that steps on the field," said Maine defensive lineman Bruno Dorismond. "I-A, I-AA, it really doesn't matter. I have that much confidence in our team. [The Huskies are] a growing program, been growing ever since I was in high school. I've been watching them since I was in the eighth grade and they've done a good job, but we're coming to win a football game Saturday."

Maine held Monmouth to just 61 yards in its opener, but will likely have a tougher time with talented Uconn sophomore running back Donald Brown, who was frustrated by his "feeble" 99-yard performance against Duke a week ago. The Black Bears will also have to try and slow down a rejuvenated Husky passing attack led by Junior College transfer Tyler Lorenzen (I haven't mistakenly called him Jared yet, and I'm pretty proud of that). The junior lefty threw for an impressive 298 yards and two touchdowns in his Connecticut debut.

Maine is a solid team, and Uconn's 31-point win at Duke last week wasn't quite as impressive as it looked on paper, but I don't see Connecticut slipping up to an inferior team at Rentschler.

CC Prediction: Connecticut 27, Maine 12

SYRACUSE (0-1) AT IOWA (1-0)

Time/TV: 8:05/Big Ten Network

Favorite: Iowa by 22.5

Thus game produced one of the funniest or embarrassing - depending on where your allegiance lies - moments of the 2006 season as the Orange had eight opportunities to keep the dream of beating the top ten Hawkeyes alive by punching the ball in from inside the five, and failed on each and every one.

This year Syracuse heads to Iowa City to take on an unranked Hawkeye squad a week after an embarrassing 42-12 drubbing at the hands of Washington.

Iowa is 1-0 after an ugly midwesterny 16-3 victory over Northern Illinois in which senior running backs Albert Young and Damian Sims each ran for more than 100 yards, leading Hawkeye offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde to make one of the more absurd statements in college football history:

"We figure, if we can get two 100-yard rushers last week, why not have two 150-yard rushers this week and two 200-yard rushers the next week."

Totally.

Penn State had better watch out in week six because they're liable to have some records set on their ass.

Something inside me wants to go out on a limb and take the upset here, but that something inside me is an undercooked Totinos pizza snack I ate drunk at 3 a.m. I am, however, calling for a close game, an upset in its own right.

CC Prediction: Iowa 24, Syracuse 20

SOUTH FLORIDA (1-0) AT AUBURN (1-0)

Time/TV: 9 p.m./ESPN2

Favorite: Auburn by 6.5

Ah the upset people with nothing else to talk about have been hinting at predicting since June.

It's Auburn, it's South Florida, and it doesn't have quite the same luster after the Tigers stumbled to a ten-point victory over Kansas State and the Bulls slept-walked past Elon 28-13.

USF entered the season with serious injury issues on the offensive line, and now they're going to be forced to play without starting center and unit leader Nick Capogna, who injured his knee last week. Fellow O-lineman James Carnes also injured his knee, but he is listed as probable.

After Matt Grothe was forced to put the ball up a career-high 39 times last week, the Bulls will need a steady dose of an effective Mike Ford if they hope to stay in the game. The freshman running back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 83 yards on just six carries last week in his collegiate debut.

This game's been talked about for a long time, and there is absolutely no way that Auburn won't come out prepared on national television tomorrow night. Losing Capogna is the equivalent of us losing Wood, and I have a hard time seeing the USF offense flourish without him.

Here's to hoping I'm wrong.

CC Prediction: Auburn 24, South Florida 9