It’s pretty strange to see a BCS conference playing just one game on a Saturday in November, but that was exactly the story this weekend in the Big East. With four of the conference’s eight teams enjoying a much needed bye week and two teams playing on Wednesday, Syracuse and Louisville took center stage as the only show in town.
I’ll get to that game in a bit, but I want to touch on a team that many Big East fans are hoping will play in their conference very soon: TCU. The Horned Frogs showed exactly why they are a target that almost any conference in the country would be lucky to have, at least in football. TCU absolutely dismantled top five Utah (a soon to be Pac 10 member) and showed that if they were in the Big East this season, they would be the top team and it wouldn’t even be close.
The season that TCU is putting together is giving them even more leverage than they previously had. A national title contender like the Horned Frogs would be absolutely invaluable to conference fighting to maintain relevance in football. For my money, the BE is going to be hard pressed to get TCU without some major concessions, not the least of which would be allowing the school to play in the conference in all sports.
There’s an awful lot left to play out in this whole situation, but it’s going to be very interesting to watch.
Louisville 28 Syracuse 20
A veeery quiet weekend in the Big East was punctuated by a big Louisville victory over Syracuse. In fact, many UofL fans were calling it the biggest win since the Bobby Petrino era, something that I can’t disagree with. Not only was the win a signal that Charlie Strong has the Cards on the up and up in a big way, but the fact that it came against Syracuse is quite the backhanded compliment to the Orange. No one has called a win over Syracuse a significant one since the early 2000′s.
With RB Bilal Powell and QB Adam Froman sidelined with injuries, it was the Cardinal defense that got the job done against a Syracuse offense that struggled to get it done consistently through the air. In the absence of Froman and Powell, QB Justin Burke and RB’s Jeremy Wright and Victor Anderson keyed the Cards offensive attack, particularly in a decisive third quarter. UofL put together two long TD drives, one of which stretched into the fourth quarter, limiting ‘Cuse to just a single possession, on which they registered a field goal.
In the fourth quarter, with the Orange down only a TD and a two point conversion, the UofL defense dug in, forcing three punts before the offense had another nine play 25 yard drive which effectively ended the game. Louisville would need a near miracle to overcome Pitt for the BE title, behind two games and a tie breaker, they are one win away from bowl eligibility and have second place in the conference in their sights. By any measure, this season has been a major success for Strong.
South Florida 28 Rutgers 27
The only other game of the week took place on Wednesday and was really pretty similar to the defensive affair between UofL and Syracuse. I discussed the game on Friday, so I won’t talk too much more about it. Moise Plancher ran for well over 100 yards to control the ball against the Scarlet Knights. Big plays in the passing game were hard to come by as USF ended a four game losing streak to Rutgers.
1. Pitt 5-3 (3-0) – Three road games in last four will test #1 ranking
2. Louisville 5-4 (2-2) – Road win over previous #2 gives them nod here
3. Syracuse 6-3 (3-2) – 2/3/4 are nearly interchangeable
4. USF 5-3 (2-2) – Trip to Louisville could boost them to #2
5. West Virginia 5-3 (1-2) – Still feels like they could do damage
6. UConn 4-4 (1-2) – They have big opportunity as Pitt travels to Storrs
7. Rutgers 4-4 (1-2) – 5-8 are just as interchangeable as 2-4
8. Cincinnati 3-5 (1-2) – Facing major climb to become bowl eligible