WATCH NOW - WEEK 2 REWIND
Home field advantage seemed to be the order of the day Saturday as the four BIG EAST teams to play at home all earned wins, while the three teams that hit the road came up short.
The most impressive performance came in Tampa, Fla., as USF rolled to a 37-7 win against Ball State at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls raced to a 30-0 halftime lead and weren’t threatened by the Cardinals, as USF finished with 519 yards of offense and a school-record 33 first downs to improve to 2-0. QB B.J. Daniels enjoyed the best day of his career as he completed 28 of 39 passes for 359 yards — all career highs. USF looks to get to 3-0 when the Bulls host Florida A&M Saturday night.
West Virginia found itself on the short end of a 12-10 halftime score against Norfolk State, but the Mountaineers regrouped to score the last 45 points of the game in what turned into a 55-12 win at Milan Puskar Stadium. QB Geno Smith threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns and five different receivers caught touchdown passes to help the Mountaineers to a 2-0 start. WR Devon Brown had four receptions for a career-high 109 yards and a TD for West Virginia, which heads to Maryland for a noon matinee Saturday.
Pittsburgh turned in a workman-like effort in the a 35-29 win against Maine at Heinz Field, bringing the Panthers to 2-0 on the young season. Pitt was paced by RB Ray Graham, who went for 121 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries and stands as the national rushing leader through two weeks of the season. The Panthers ran 90 offensive plays and had 381 yards on the day, but allowed seven sacks to the Black Bears. Pittsburgh heads to Iowa Saturday for the Panthers first trip to Iowa City since 1951.
Syracuse similarly had a tough challenge from a Colonial Athletic Association opponent as the Orange needed a third touchdown pass from QB Ryan Nassib to get past Rhode Island 21-14 at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse was limited to just 36 rushing yards, but Nassib came through with a school-record-tying 29 completions for 318 yards and three TDs. Nassib completed passes to eight different receivers, including WR Van Chew, who had eight catches for 134 yards and a TD. The Orange head west for a game at USC Saturday night.
Rutgers suffered its first loss of the season as the Scarlet Knights fell to North Carolina 24-22 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Rutgers forced four first-half turnovers and had five takeaways for the game, but wasn’t able to overcome a 132-1 discrepancy in rushing yards. QB Chas Dodd and WR Mohamed Sanu kept the Scarlet Knights alive throughout the game, with Dodd throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns and Sanu registering a career-high 13 catches for 119 yards and a TD. Rutgers does not play in Week 3 and is back in action Sept. 24 against Ohio at High Point Solutions Stadium.
Connecicut also came up just short on the road as the Huskies fell 24-21 at Vanderbilt. Connecticut was held to just 193 yards of offense, but stayed in the game with strong efforts on defense and special teams. The Huskies got two field goals, scored on a blocked punt in the end zone and had a 64-yard fumble return for a touchdown, but couldn’t overcome four turnovers to the opportunistic Commodores. The Huskies return to Rentschler Field for a Friday-night matchup against Iowa State.
Cincinnati and Tennessee appeared headed for a classic shootout, but the Bearcats couldn’t match the Volunteers’ pace in a 45-23 setback in Knoxville, Tenn. RB Isaiah Pead ran for 155 yards, including a highlight-film 65-yard touchdown on his first carry, but the Bearcats forced the Vols into just one punt on the day as Tennessee finished with 531 yards of offense. Cincinnati returns to Nippert Stadium Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Akron.
Louisville was the only home team to fall as the Cardinals dropped a 24-17 decision to Florida International Friday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals had a 446-293 advantage in total offense and a 24-9 margin in first downs, but didn’t have an answer for the Golden Panthers’ star receiver T.Y. Hilton, who turned in 268 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns. QB Will Stein completed 30 of 43 passes for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns for the Cardinals, who face Kentucky for the Governor’s Cup Saturday in Lexington.