5 Big East Storylines for Week 9
1. Can Munchie Legaux back up his bold proclamations?
When asked earlier this week how he compares with Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, the Cincinnati quarterback told reporters, “I'm better.” Credit Legaux for his moxie, but the numbers don't back up his claims. The Cardinals sophomore leads the Big East in completion percentage (73.4) and is ranked 12th in FBS in passing efficiency (165.2). Besides Bridgewater, five other Big East quarterbacks have a higher completion percentage than Legaux (53.3), and three have a higher passing efficiency (136.7). Bridgewater's ability to keep his eyes downfield and make the proper reads explains his high completion percentage. Both are qualities Legaux can work on. In a 27-24 win over Virginia Tech, Legaux came through in the clutch by placing a throw on the money on a game-winning 39-yard touchdown pass to Damon Julian with 13 seconds left. Legaux threw for 376 yards and three TDs against the Hokies. If he can replicate the performance against the Cardinals, he might prove his doubters wrong.
2. Will defense, not quarterback play be the key in the Cardinals-Bearcats matchup?
The showdown features the league's top two scoring offenses. Cincinnati averages 34.7 points per game, and Louisville is close behind with 32.4. The Bearcats will be without DE Walter Stewart (upper body injury), who is their unquestioned leader on defense. Stewart missed last week's loss against Toledo, but the Rockets still were unable to score a touchdown on offense. Both the Bearcats and Cardinals rank in the top four in the league in scoring defense. Louisville has several playmakers in its secondary but has been plagued by stretches of inconsistency. The game could come down to the team that allows fewer explosive plays.
Rutgers has faced several versatile backs this season, namely Knile Davis,Montel Harris and Jerome Smith. None of the three arguably possess Archer's knack for creating home-run plays. The Golden Flashes' junior has 68 carries for 687 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. He'll face a Scarlet Knights' defense that ranks third in FBS against the run (69.14 yards per game). In the return game, Archer is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. On kick returns, Archer leads the nation with a 47.7 yard average. Last week, Archer did not have a single kick return as Western Michigan decided to kick away from him. He also is the only player in FBS to register a passing, rushing, receiving and return touchdown in 2012.
Both teams are extremely talented, but both enter this week with nine combined losses. Turnovers have been the difference in several close losses. The Orange are seventh in the conference with a minus-8 turnover margin, and South Florida ranks last at minus-11. On defense, the Bulls are the only team in FBS that hasn't forced an interception. Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib has a 5:1 TD/INT ratio in the Orange's three wins. In Syracuse's four defeats, the senior quarterback has thrown for eight touchdowns but also has seven interceptions.
Owls RB Montel Harris and Panthers RB Ray Graham are among the most accomplished backs in college football. Both backs, though, have had to overcome serious knee injuries throughout their careers. Harris also dealt with a hamstring injury that slowed him through the early portion of the schedule. In Temple's last three games, the Boston College transfer is averaging more than 118 rushing yards per game. Graham, meanwhile, hasn't appeared to have recovered fully from last year's season-ending injury. Through seven games, he's only reached the 100-yard mark once. Graham is splitting carries with freshman Rushel Shell, who's been limited by a back injury in recent weeks.
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