Savor this past weekend Big East football fans. The conference went 6-1 (the lone loss coming in the Rutgers-USF game). Pittsburgh had the week’s biggest win with an upset of 13th ranked Virginia Tech. It was a rare bragging rights weekend for the conference.
This is the first edition of The Fizz’s weekly Big East power rankings. We wanted to start it after three games so we could have a real sense of each team. If the BCS has taught us anything, it’s that preseason and early-season rankings are hot trash. Every week, we’ll have an updated list and analysis from the weekend’s conference highlights.
Big East Fizz Power Rankings #1:
1) #20 Louisville, 3-0 (Last week: W 39-34 v. UNC)
In the Cardinals’ first test of the season, they looked superb. And then they looked down right ugly. It was a tale of two halves against the Tar Heels, as Teddy Bridgewater and the offense shredded UNC for 36 points by halftime. But Louisville’s top notch D nearly choked this one away in the second half. Nonetheless, the combo of Bridgewater under center and RB Jeremy Wright in the backfield has looked sharp. I’m still going to hold off on the “Louisville is the most underrated team in the nation” talk. But with a couple more cupcakes on the schedule before they open up Big East play at Pittsburgh on October 13th, the Cards should be considered the best in the conference for a few weeks and continue to climb in the national rankings.
2) Rutgers, 3-0 (W 23-13 v. USF)
It wasn’t the prettiest of wins on Thursday, but the Knights have found a way to grind out these defensive games over the last couple seasons. Gary Nova has only completed 55% of his passes through 3 weeks, but has proved to move the ball when he needs to. Having one of the best defenses in the nation certainly helps. The Scarlet Knights have allowed just 8.3 points per game. A win against a dejected Arkansas team this weekend could give them a lot of confidence when they open up Big East play against UConn a week later. The ugliest part of the weekend for RU was Crazy Eyes Schiano’s classlessness on display.
3) Cincinnati, 2-0 (W 23-7 v. Delaware State)
The Bearcats were another Big East team this week that had trouble with an FCS opponent. Cincy outgained Delaware State by 200 plus yards, but committed six turnovers, including two inside the red zone. Keep an eye on breakout RB George Winn. He rushed for 147 yards this past week, and totaled 95 yards and two TD’s on the ground two weeks ago against a Pitt team that just shut down the 13th ranked Hokies. He’s a small back with a ton of power.
4) USF, 2-1 (L 23-13 v. Rutgers)
The only loss in the conference this week, and it happened against another league foe. It was another head scratcher for USF. In a close game the entire night, the Bulls were never in control on offense. Granted, BJ Daniels threw three picks, but the run game was just as ineffective. The South Florida offense could possibly be the most volatile in the Big East, and they’ll have to get it figured in just a week in a half when they welcome powerful Florida State to Raymond James Stadium.
5) Pittsburgh, 1-2 (W 35-17 v. Virginia Tech)
The only reason why Pitt is ranked ahead of SU is this team is not as bad as it looked in the first two weeks. A clean upset of a top 15 team should help jump start the squad. Despite mustering just 17 and 10 points against Youngstown State and Cincy in the first two weeks, QB Tino Sunseri is passing the ball fairly well. The Panthers will crush Gardner-Webb next week, and will set up a nice little showdown with ACC moving buddy SU on a Friday night in the Dome on October 5th. That will set the tone for the conference season for both squads.
6) Syracuse, 1-2 (W 28-17 v. Stony Brook)
If the Orange looked more dominant against the Seawolves, it would probably be ahead of Pittsburgh. But that makes three straight weeks now of first half offensive woes. This year’s formula is simple for SU. If Ryan Nassib shows up, the Orange will have no problems. Nassib is 2nd in the nation in passing yards per game with 1,139, and is one of just two QB’s with at least 1,000 yards and nine touchdown passes already this year. Next up is undefeated Minnesota, and it would be huge to pull to 2-2 after a win on the road, heading into the bye week for SU.
7) UConn, 2-1 (W 24-21 v. Maryland)
The Huskies didn’t win the Edsall Bowl in the most impressive fashion against an underachieving Terps team. But a win is a win, and Paul Pasqualoni will take it. Although the defense looked stout over the first few weeks, allowing just 10.3 points per game, the UConn offense hasn’t shown much firepower. First year starting QB Chandler Whitmer has thrown 5 picks and not a single touchdown thus far. Connecticut plays Western Michigan on the road this Saturday.
8) Temple, 1-1 (Bye)
And the Owls stay put at #8 in the conference. They were off this past Saturday, but did lose to Maryland 36-27, two weekends ago. Temple will try and shock Penn State in their annual tilt this weekend, and the Nittany Lions are obviously vulnerable. Each loss hurts Temple a little more than other schools. The Owls only have 11 games on the schedule as opposed to the usual 12. Dual threat QB Chris Coyer needs to be more efficient in the passing game as well.
Posted: Kevin Fitzgerald
Does SU deserve to be higher after two tough losses to begin the season?