You’ve gotta love the Big East. I think that pretty much every weekend all eight Big East teams are playing in-conference, we are going to see some sort of craziness that no one saw coming.
This weekend, we saw the teams that I probably would have picked as my two favorites to win the conference, West Virginia and Cincinnati, lose close games. With those two losses, there is just one team left standing without a loss in-conference (Pitt). It’s about a third into the way into the conference slate and your guess at a BE champ is as good as mine.
Here’s how we got to where we are.
South Florida 38 Cincinnati 30
I would not have picked USF to beat the Bearcats, but it was certainly not out of the realm of possibility. However, such a flawless performance by BJ Daniels was not something I could have foreseen. Daniels has been mistake prone ever since he stepped under center for the first time, but he has always been capable of making a big play.
On Friday night, Daniels was all big plays. He was 13-16 for 286 yards and two TD’s and ran for two more. Cincinnati threw for over 500 yards and gained nearly 600 in total offense, but it wasn’t enough. After a Bearcat FG cut USF’s lead to 17-16, the Bulls scored back to back TD’s to stretch out the lead entering the fourth quarter. Cincy scored twice in the fourth, but were not able to complete the comeback. It’s not too often that a team has three 100 yard receivers, but that’s what happened here.
Syracuse 19 (20) West Virginia 14
I did NOT see that coming.
Syracuse was fresh off of a beatdown at the hands of Pitt last weekend that seemed to remind the Orange that they are indeed the Orange. Going up against the supposed class of the Big East, this figured to be another blowout. Not so much.
Both teams moved the ball with relative ease in an entertained fourth quarter that ended with a 14-10 score in favor of West Virginia. ‘Cuse managed three second quarter field goals to take the lead and that was it for any scoring.
Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib was just 5-15 for 63 yards and the Orange offense managed just 246 yards total, but the one thing they did do well was hold on to the football. Nassib did not throw a pick and they lost just one fumble, whereas the Mountaineers handed the ball over to ‘Cuse three times, all interceptions by Geno Smith. Smith was also sacked five times.
Louisville 26 Connecticut 0
Louisville’s dynamic offense has been the story in their recently improved play, but against UConn, it was the defense that did it. They obviously pitched a shutout, and in doing so, allowed under 200 yards of total offense and forced three turnovers. You really can’t ask anything more of a defensive unit.
On offense, UofL wasn’t as good as it had been in recent weeks, but it didn’t need to be. Bilal Powell was pedestrian by his lofty standards, rushing for 105 yards on 27 carries without a TD. His trademark long run just didn’t happen, but he was a big part of UofL’s dominance in time of possession.
Pitt 41 Rutgers 21
Is that Dan Marino back at QB for the Pitt Panthers? Tino Sunseri had a second consecutive strong performance, completing 21 of 27 passes for 307 yards and three TD’s. Combine that with Pitt’s two headed rushing attack with Dion Lewis (130 yards) and Ray Graham (56 yards) and you have the team that might just be playing the best football of any team in the Big East.
Pitt had its struggles out of conference, but they have been the most balanced squad in the BE the last two weeks. Louisville will make a trip to Heinz Field to play the Panthers next week in a matchup that I am looking forward to.
1. Pitt 4-3 (2-0) – The new top dogs, but for how long?
2. Syracuse 5-2 (2-1) – Huge, huge win vaults them up rankings
3. West Virginia 5-2 (1-1) – It seems like they lose every time they become ranked
4. Louisville 4-3 (1-1) – Trip to Pitt gives them a shot to prove they are a threat
5. South Florida 4-3 (1-2) – Road win @ Cincy gets them back on track
6. Cincinnati 3-4 (1-1) – Bad loss, but still very much in play
7. Rutgers 4-3 (1-1) – Pitt dismantling knocks them down
8. Connecticut 3-4 (0-2) – Two game losing streak has them reeling