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September 6, 2006
In a weak slate for the Big East this week, Rutgers' game against Illinois has a few storylines. The Illini (2-9 in 2005) beat Rutgers 33-30 in overtime a year ago, depriving the Scarlet Knights an eight-win season. This year, Illinois could be the barrier to a 4-0 start with Rutgers' next two games coming against Ohio and Howard.
Worst matchup: Eastern Washington at West Virginia.
BCS implications: None.
Most to gain: Louisville running backs.
Most to lose: Rutgers.
Who's hot: Raymell Rice, Rutgers
Who's not: Pittsburgh on the road.
Must see TV:Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, Friday 8 p.m., ESPN2
Backup who could have an impact:: Pittsburgh running back Shane Brooks.
Key stat: 418.
Take the line: Rutgers is favored by 13.5 at home over Illinois, but don't be surprised if the Scarlet Knights win by more than a couple of touchdowns. The Illini gave up 30 points and 517 yards of total offense at home in a win over Rutgers last year.
They said it: "You can call Notre Dame and ask for a one-and-one, but is that going to happen? I don't think so. You (can't) call a team in February and they'll say 'Oh, yeah, I'll come to Morgantown.' It doesn't happen that way. We were lucky to find a I-AA team, we might have had to go to the (Division II) West Virginia Conference."
Injury update: West Virginia quarterback Pat White is nursing a rib injury and has missed some practice time early this week. ? Louisville running back Michael Bush (knee) is out for the season. ? Louisville starting defensive tackle Adrian Grady (leg) will be out for 2-4 weeks. Pittsburgh running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (ankle) is day-to-day.
Worth noting: Redshirt freshman Matt Grothe will start for South Florida this week in place of Pat Julmiste, who left the game early Saturday with a thigh bruise. ?Cincinnati will continue to rotate quarterbacks Dustin Grutza and Nick Davila for another week. ? Connecticut has an open date this week. ? Pittsburgh is visiting Cincinnati for the first time since 1922.
Looking back: Pittsburgh linebacker Clint Session made an emphatic return after an injury-plagued 2005 with nine tackles, two tackles for a loss and a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown. ? The Big East went 7-1 last week. The only loss was Wake Forest's 20-10 defeat of Syracuse. Two wins came against ACC teams with Pittsburgh beating Virginia and Rutgers beating North Carolina.
Freshman who impressed: Connecticut running back Donald Brown ran nine times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. His performance highlighted the second-best team rushing day in school history with 418 total yards on the ground. USF's Grothe claimed the starting job after replacing Julmiste. Grothe entered the game in the second quarter and went 9-of-13 for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 58 yards and another TD.