Week 11 in the Big East will have multiple Saturday games! Unlike last ‘weekend’ for the conference, which started on a Wednesday, where one game was played on Saturday, this time we have three games to chose from!
The four total games for the Big East this weekend will once again have a heavy emphasis on defense. I know, it seems like every week in this spot I write about defense. The D in the Big East has been either impressive with great statistics (4 teams in the top 25 of the latest BlitzIndex and 5 if you count TCU), or the defenses are putting up big numbers against mediocre competition. As a fan that can be frustrating. Not knowing if you are watching talented players. As a fantasy player, who cares? The Big East gives you low scores for games, but good scores in fantasy.
Rather than wax poetic about linebackers and defensive tackles, I thought we could concentrate on the other big story line in the Big East at the moment. Injuries. Including Thursday’s Connecticut – Pittsburgh contest, every game this weekend has key players coming back from injury or key players missing time.Thursday – Pittsburgh @ Connecticut
I am a liar. I just got done telling you I wouldn’t concentrate on defense and here I go writing about defense. The thing is the Pittsburgh defense is welcoming back their best player back from a serious back injury. Defensive end Greg Romeus should be playing in this game after fully recovering from back surgery in September. The Panthers enjoy a two game lead in the Big East and Pittsburgh is fresh off a 20 – 3 beat down of Louisville. If the Cards, along with the Orange and Scarlet Knights, couldn’t get anything going against the Panthers without the reining Big East Defensive Player of the Year, then it will be that much tougher for the rest of the league. Romeus will once again be paired with opposite D End Brandon Lindsey and those two should wreak havoc on Connecticut.
Saturday – South Florida @ Louisville
Louisville won at Syracuse on Saturday without starting QB Adam Froman. An impressive feat and, by the way, an injury you should keep an eye on. The more impressive aspect to the Cardinals win was the fact they won, at the Carrier Dome, without starting RB Bilal Powell. Powell left Louisville’s game at Pittsburgh two weeks ago with a bruised knee and has sat out since. As of the middle of the week Powell has been listed as day to day (aren’t we all) and it looks as though there is nothing serious to this injury. A bruise can heal quick and from what I hear (whatever that means) Powell will go this weekend. However, I would not be confident in playing Powell (the fifth best running back in the nation statistically) this week.
Cincinnati @ West Virginia
The most consistent and productive QB in the Big East resides in Ohio once again. Brian Kelly doesn’t coach at Cincinnati any more and Tony Pike is getting crushed as a Panther in the NFL, but Zach Collaros has put huge numbers regardless. The junior hasn’t played due to knee injury since Cincinnati lost at home to South Florida back in October. Collaros missed UC’s game against Syracuse and the team had a bye week this past weekend. With that time off it looks as though Collaros will play. For a QB that has passed for nearly 2,000 yards and 20 TDs all while missing one game, that is huge news in the world of fantasy football. Collaros’ return also should mean big things for fellow Bearcats WRs DJ Woods, Armon Binns, and RB Isaiah Pead.
Syracuse @ Rutgers
The Syracuse Orange sit on the stoop of a bowl game for the first time in six years! Syracuse has six wins needing seven due to playing and beating two FCS schools this season. Such marked improvement has not come without sacrifice. The Orange are all sorts of banged up. There will be starters missing on the Oline and in the defense for SU this weekend, but the big injuries to keep an eye on for fantasy purposes will be at wide receiver. The top leading and second leading receivers on Syracuse are both hobbled. Van Chew, the top wide out who is Syracuse’s big play threat, has missed practices the past two weeks and was severely limited last weekend against Louisville. The second leading receiver, Alec Lemon, wore a soft cast on his left arm this week after suffering an injury in that game against the Cardinals. Both are expected to play in New Jersey against RU, however, both are spot or emergency starts this weekend.