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October 10, 2013

Week Seven Preview

UCF's players and coaches will be glued to the TV tonight as next week's opponent, Louisville, takes on Rutgers in a Thursday night ESPN clash.

The No. 8 Cardinals are the favorites to win the American Athletic Conference, but they'll likely face their best competition this week and next.

Last year's Big East championship came down to the Louisville-Rutgers matchup which was played the last week of the regular season. The Cardinals won that game, 20-17, to earn a berth in the Sugar Bowl where they went on to stomp Florida.

UCF, in the midst of a bye week, visits Louisville next Friday, Oct. 18 on ESPN.

Elsewhere in the American, there's an intriguing matchup in Texas on Saturday between Memphis and Houston. The Cougars, one of two undefeated American teams, now know they'll play the rest of their season with true freshman quarterback John O'Korn after David Piland announced his retirement earlier this week due to a history of concussions. He hadn't played since the second game. Memphis, though their record may not show it, continues to improve and nearly upset UCF last week.

There's another ESPN primetime game on Friday night as Cincinnati hosts Temple. The Bearcats suffered an embarrassing 26-20 loss at USF last week. UConn hosts USF on Saturday to round out the league slate.

Here's a look at every game involving the American, future league members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, plus UCF's non-conference opponents (Akron, FIU, Penn State, South Carolina).

Yahoo! College Football Scoreboard

Lines are for entertainment purposes only, picks are head-to-head.

Rutgers (4-1, 1-0 AAC) at No. 8 Louisville (5-0, 1-0 AAC)
7:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Rutgers provides the first test for Louisville who has rolled through a cakewalk schedule. The Scarlet Knights are winners of four straight after taking a triple-overtime thriller at SMU last Saturday, and Louisville is coming off a 30-7 win at Temple. Last year's game - a 20-17 Louisville win - decided the Big East's BCS berth. The line seems particularly skewed in Louisville's favor, but these games have been close lately with Louisville also winning the 2011 contest by a slim margin, 16-14.
THE LINE: Louisville by 19
THE PICK: Louisville
Temple (0-5, 0-2 AAC) at Cincinnati (3-2, 0-1 AAC)
8:30 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Shocked is the word to describe Cincinnati's 26-20 loss last week to a USF team that came into the game winless. The Bearcats rank fourth nationally in total defense (251.0 yards per game) and didn't allow an offensive TD as USF scored their 26 points on four field goals with a pair of touchdowns that came on defense and special teams. Meanwhile, Temple lost to Louisville 30-7 (a closer margin than many expected). The Owls are giving up 518 yards per game.
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 21
THE PICK: Cincinnati
USF (1-4, 1-0 AAC) at UConn (0-4, 0-0 AAC)
12 noon, Bright House Sports Network / ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Willie Taggart's bus may have suffered some damage, but it's back on the road following their surprising 26-20 win against Cincinnati. The Bulls offense still has trouble locating the endzone, but they made four field goals and the defense and special teams stepped up with touchdowns. QB Steven Bench (knee) and RB Marcus Shaw (hamstring) are questionable after sustaining injuries in that win. UConn fired head coach Paul Pasqualoni following their Sept. 28 loss to Buffalo. A bye week has given T.J. Weist more time to prepare for what will be his interim head coaching debut. He's already named a new QB starter: Freshman Tim Boyle. UConn has never lost a home game to USF.
THE LINE: UConn by 5
Memphis (1-3, 0-1 AAC) at Houston (4-0, 1-0 AAC)
12 noon, ESPNews
THE BUZZ: Houston has surged to a quiet 4-0 start, though their schedule hasn't exactly been the most difficult (Southern, Temple, Rice, UTSA). Starting QB David Piland hasn't played since suffering a concussion in the Temple game on Sept. 7 and earlier this week announced his retirement from football. True freshman John O'Korn, who has started the past two games in his absence now becomes the permanent starter. O'Korn, a Florida native, has passed for 933 yards and 10 TDs with 1 INT. Memphis doesn't have the record show for it, but the Tigers are a much-improved team and gave UCF a big-time scare last weekend as the Knights needed a miraculous late fourth-quarter comeback to stave off defeat. Memphis has either had the lead or been tied to start the fourth quarter in each of their first four games. DE Martin Ifedi is third in the nation in sacks (1.4 per game) and second in tackles for loss (2.3 per game).
THE LINE: Houston by 9.5
THE PICK: Houston
No. 14 South Carolina (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at Arkansas (3-3, 0-2 SEC)
12:21 p.m., SEC TV / Fox 35 in Orlando
THE BUZZ: A week after playing UCF, South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney decided at the last minute that he wouldn't play last Saturday against Kentucky due to a strained muscle near his rib cage. He returned to practice by midweek, but his status is still uncertain. South Carolina beat Kentucky, 35-28. Arkansas began the season with three wins against lesser competition, but they've dropped three straight to Rutgers, No. 10 Texas A&M and No. 18 Florida.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 6
THE PICK: South Carolina
Navy (3-1) at Duke (3-2, 0-2 ACC)
12:30 p.m., My65 WRBW in Orlando / ESPN3
THE BUZZ: The game was in doubt for a while due to the government shutdown, but Navy-Air Force did take place as scheduled last Saturday and the Midshipmen were victorious in Annapolis, 28-10. Option-favoring Navy ranks 10th in the country in rushing with 288.8 yards per game. Duke, coming off a bye week, defeated Troy 38-31 on Sept. 28.
THE LINE: Duke by 3
East Carolina (4-1, 2-0 C-USA) at Tulane (4-2, 2-0 C-USA)
3:30 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: ECU is enjoying a very nice start to the season with a 2-0 league record and a blowout 55-31 win vs. in-state rival North Carolina. Their only blemish is a 15-10 home loss to Virginia Tech. Only two wins away from bowl eligibility, Tulane has been one of the surprises in C-USA under second-year coach Curtis Johnson. A bowl would be a major accomplishment considering the Green Wave have had 10 losing seasons.
THE LINE: East Carolina by 10
THE PICK: East Carolina
Akron (1-5, 0-2 MAC) at No. 23 Northern Illinois (5-0, 1-0 MAC)
5 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: Akron, who hasn't won a FBS game since 2010, got crushed by Ohio last week 43-3. The Bobcats are probably the favorite to win the MAC East, while this week's opponent, Northern Illinois, is the favorite in the West. The Huskies, last year's BCS buster, is now ranked after an undefeated start that includes two wins over Big Ten teams (Iowa, Purdue).
No. 18 Michigan (5-0, 1-0 B1G) at Penn State (3-2, 0-1 B1G)
5:00 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Penn State was shocked by Indiana on the road last week, a 44-24 defeat. It was the Hoosiers' first ever win against Penn State, who entered the game with an 0-16 mark. Indiana had a 21-17 lead after three quarters, then exploded for three consecutive fourth quarter touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Michigan may have looked unimpressive in narrow wins against Akron and UConn, but hey, they're 5-0. They beat Minnesota last week, 42-13.
THE LINE: Michigan by 2.5
THE PICK: Penn State
UAB (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) at FIU (1-4, 1-0 C-USA)
7:30 p.m., CSS
THE BUZZ: FIU won the battle of two dreadful teams last weekend as they edged Southern Miss on the road, 24-23. Though the Golden Eagles have fallen hard since Larry Fedora left following their C-USA Championship season in 2011, many figured they had a good chance to break their current losing streak which now stands at 17. It was the inaugural C-USA game for FIU, who earlier lost to FCS Bethune-Cookman and were outscored 110-0 against UCF and Louisville. UAB lost a home game to FAU last weekend, 37-23.
Tulsa (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) at UTEP (1-4, 0-2 C-USA)
8:00 p.m., FOX Sports 1
THE BUZZ: It's been a disappointing start for Tulsa, who last week dropped a 30-27 overtime game to Rice. They overcame a 24-10 halftime to deficit to force OT, but a FG wasn't enough as Rice won the game by scoring a touchdown on their possession. UTEP is coming off a 38-35 loss to Louisiana Tech. Both teams share a mutual opponent: Colorado State. Tulsa beat the Rams 30-27 on Sept. 7 UTEP lost to CSU 59-42 on Sept. 28.
THE LINE: Tulsa by 10.5

Bye weeks: UCF (4-1, 1-0 AAC), SMU (1-4, 0-1 AAC).



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