After a season of twists, turns, and general uncertainty, the fate of the Big East’s automatic BCS bid could finally be determined next weekend. With Pitt, UConn, and West Virginia picking up wins this weekend, the remaining five teams in the BE were all but eliminated from contention for the title. Each of the three teams have two games remaining, with Pitt leading both WVU and UConn by a game in the standings.
You would think that the winner of next weekend’s West Virginia-Pitt game would have the clear lead in the race, but that’s only half true. Obviously, a Pitt win keeps them ahead of the pace and in first place. However, a Mountaineer W, paired with a UConn win over Cincinnati, would create a three team tie atop the standings. Since UConn sports wins over both Pitt and WVU, UConn would own the tie breaker. In short, Pitt is in the best shape, but this thing is very much up for grabs.
Pitt 17 South Florida 10
Before this weekend, USF QB BJ Daniels had a reputation for his considerable talent and considerable propensity to make mistakes. Now, he has the dubious distinction of running the worst two minute drill I have ever seen. Daniels looked absolutely clueless throughout the Bulls’ attempt to tie the game on a drive that started with just over a minute left. At one point, he failed to realize that his receiver was tackled in bounds, thereby wasting about 15 seconds of precious time. Later, he threw the ball to a covered running back behind the line of scrimmage, resulting in a two yard loss and wasting the team’s final timeout. He closed things out with an interception that looked like he was trying to throw to the Pitt DB.
Daniels was badly outplayed by counterpart Tino Sunseri after an ugly 3-3 first half. Pitt scored two second half touchdowns with a balanced attack, led by running back Dion Lewis, who topped 100 yards.
West Virginia 17 Louisville 10
This was pretty much the same game as Pitt-USF. Smothering defense, under 300 yards of offense for both squads, and generally pedestrian QB play. Just about all you need to know about what WVU did to UofL on defense is that UofL kicker/punter led the Cards in rushing. He took a fake punt for a 21 yard gain and that was enough to top Jeremy Wright’s 20 yards. UofL’s top two running backs, Bilal Powell and Victor Anderson, were stuffed repeatedly, each failing to gain a single yard for the game.
West Virginia has benefited from playing some very average offenses in BE play, but their defense is not to be messed with. They held Louisville to 171 yards of total offense and have allowed only 10 touchdowns all year.
UConn 23 Syracuse 6
UConn is rounding into form very nicely late this season. They were picked by many as a sleeper for the Big East title and during a three game winning streak during which they have toppled the only other three teams that are above .500 in conference, they are showing why. Jordan Todman is leading the way, topping 100 yards rushing in each of those three wins, including 130 and two touchdowns against Syracuse, accounting for over half his team’s total offense. Syracuse really couldn’t get anything going all day, gaining an average of just 3.6 yards per play.
Cincinnati 69 Rutgers 38
Wow, how about that score? In the other three Big East games this weekend, the six teams combined for a paltry 83 points. In this game, Cincinnati and Rutgers accounted for 107. The game featured two 300 yard passers (Cincinnati’s Zach Collaros – 366, Rutgers’ Chase Dodd – 335), a 200 yard rusher (Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead – 213 and 4 TD’s), and a 200 yard receiver (Rutgers’ Mark Harrison – 240 and 4 TD’s). The Bearcats gained an astounding 661 yards of offense, a number that some Big East teams need three games to match.
1. Pitt 6-4 (4-1) – Back on track after UConn loss
2. West Virginia 7-3 (3-2) – The defense is scary, should make life hard for Pitt next week
3. UConn 6-4 (3-2) – Todman is making a late charge at BE Player of the Year honors
4. Syracuse 7-4 (4-3) – Disappointing finish to a very successful conference season
5. South Florida 6-4 (3-3) – It will be hard for Skip Holtz to trust his QB after BJ Daniels late game failures
6. Cincinnati 4-6 (2-3) – Bearcats are the last of the Mohicans in terms of explosive BE offenses
7. Louisville 5-6 (2-4) – Losses in three of last four leave Cards with one shot at bowl eligibility
8. Rutgers 4-6 (1-4) – This has been a trying season for the Knights