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State Of The Big East: Week Four

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L'Etat Du Grand-Est

L'Etat Du Grand-Est

Last week is being touted as a big week for the Big East; Big East teams were 6-2, including a couple wins over BCS teams. All in all, it was quality work all-around (except you, Krags).

The only thing is, in college football, this week's reality is next week's distant memory. Holler if you hear me, USC's national title hopes.

That having been said, the more important lesson to take from the Big East's relative early-season success is that it doesn't matter what actually happens on the field. I exaggerate only slightly when I say the Big East could have all of its teams go 4-1 out of conference, and that would mean "the other teams suck" instead of "the Big East teams are good."

It's the same line of thinking that has Oklahoma State (who lost to Houston at home by 10) ranked ahead of Houston (who beat Oklahoma State by 10 on the road, but didn't have the decency to have Barry Sanders attend school there 20 years ago).

The Big East teams don't beat anybody out of conference (despite having the second-best OOC record among the BCS conferences); or wait, no: they don't have a national title-caliber team (despite West Virginia being one boneheaded, USC-ish upset from that in 2007); or wait, no: I just don't think the Big East teams are very good.

And that's what it comes down to. It's very simple. People don't think the Big East teams are very good, evidence be damned, because of recruiting rankings and because their names aren't "Michigan" or "Florida State".

The Big East's perception can change, but it's not going to come overnight, and it's certainly not going to happen because, for example, the Big East's fifth-best team beat the Big 12's 9th-best team.

Change is going to come when one of our teams become a year-in, year-out player on the national scene. West Virginia was this for the better part of the last three years. Luckily, the general public is easily fooled by a small sample size in the right place, though (say, Cincinnati beating Ohio State or USC in a BCS bowl). So it could happen sooner than you think.

Save us Brian Kelly, you're our only hope

Save us Brian Kelly, you're our only hope

I hate the "my conference > your conference!" pissing matches that have no reasonably consistent logic, but I hate mindless Big East bashers more. The Big East ain't quite the SEC of the north, but its teams also aren't losing to Richmond, Middle Tennessee and William & Mary (ACC), or Central Michigan and Northern Illinois (Big 10), or Toledo and Louisiana-Lafayette (Big 12), or Idaho and Colorado (Mountain West).

Anyways, rant over. (And probably moot once the league goes 3-5 this weekend.) After skipping last week, this week's SoBE is going to be a long one. Below the jump, we'll learn:

  • How many tears you'll cry if you put a montage of Matt Grothe plays to a soundtrack of that Imogen Heap song from The O.C.*
  • Why Rutgers is having the Rutgersiest season ever
  • When Pittsburgh will drop from the top spot in the Power Poll. I'm stubborn, damn it.
  • Why Jarrett Brown may finally be the one to eradicate UConn's Pat Whitephobia

All that and more, below the jump.

(*Don't call it that.)

In Case You Forgot: Week 3 Results

Poor Louisville. They played a half-decent SEC squad - and UofL's primary rival, who has owned them the last couple years - pretty much even, only to be foiled by Kragsmanship. Most hilariously, a blown 4th-and-1 option pitch to the short side of the field turned a potential 10-10 tie into a 17-7 deficit after UK scored just before the half.

Even then, UofL held a 27-24 lead in the final minutes before a Mike Hartline TD pass in the closing minutes gave the Fake Coach Cal-ites the victory. The plus side is that UofL looks like it may have a pulse after the dreadful win over Indiana State. That downside is that they're almost a lock to be 1-3 with Utah and Pittsburgh coming up.

What a joke. Scarlet Knights led just 13-0 into the fourth quarter against one of the worst teams in Division I-A, needed an interception return to make the margin more respectable ...

And then FIU scored 15 points against the Rutgers defense in the final 6:00.

Now, FIU might be the Scarlet Knights' second-best OOC opponent, but give me a break. QB Tom Savage (11-28, 185 yds) is playing like a freshman (and may not be playing at all this week due to a head injury), although WR Tim Brown (131 rec yds) and RB Joe Martinek (121 rush yds)

But I mean ... it's FIU.

Baylor's better than you think, I think. They've got a shot at winning 6 games despite four near-automatic losses in the Big 12 South.

It was a solid win that recalled days of yore (all the way back in 2007) for the Huskies. Unspectacular passing game, no turnovers, dominant run game, defense doing just enough to win.

As I was in 2007, I'm skeptical of the formula, because it so often depends on the other team screwing up - who knows how the game turns out if Baylor doesn't commit turnovers on its first two second-half possessions? - but I'm not going to bitch about a win too much.

Take that, Ohio State! I think Pitt might just be for real, but of course they're due for Wannstache-induced trauma.

This is unquestionably the Big East's best OOC win (and it came on the road, too), although UConn's win over North Carolina two weeks ago is up there too.

/bangs head on wall repeatedly

Tony Pike keeps doing his thing (332 yds, 2 TD), and the Bearcats more or less controlled the last 35 minutes of the game. You go, Bearcats.

Poor USF. In a meaningless game against a I-AA team, they lost the services of all-awesome QB Matt Grothe (and the Gro-hawk for the rest of his senior season.

Bulls now go in to their showdown with newly-rejuvenated Florida State minus their top player, although new QB B.J. Daniels is touted as the next big thing down there.

Ohhhh! Ohhhh! It's AWESOME, bay-bee! The Cuse-ies with a big, come-from-behind last-second win! You gotta love those Carrier Crazies, bay-bee!

The kid from Manlius, N.Y., I'm talkin' about Mistah Gregory Paulus! He knows how the dish the rock! Sometimes he might be on my All-Dow Jones team, but what heart! WHAT HEART!

Jimmy Boeheim up in Syracuse has got something cookin' up there, BABY!

Oh, 'Eers, 'Eers, 'Eers. They had this one, then they lost it. Bill Stewart needs to get rid of the screen pass where Jarrett Brown throws it to Noel Devine two feet from the nose tackle, surrounded by six other defenders. That dog won't hunt.

I feel a lot better about UConn's chances at Mountaineer Field next month (meaning UConn has a 3% chance of winning instead of a 1.5% chance) if Brown is going to be a turnover monster. He had five Saturday.

Week Four Power Poll / Schedule

  • 1. Pittsburgh (3-0, 0-0)
  • This week: at North Carolina State (2-1); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)

A win here, and a win against Louisville next week, would make them 5-0 and almost certainly ranked facing UConn in two weeks. Which would make that game (from a UConn perspective) crazy bananas.

Meanwhile, Orson Swindle of EDSBS is playing the odds and entertaining me by betting against Pitt each week (scroll down to Q in that link).

Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, NC State 14

  • 2. Cincinnati (3-0, 1-0)
  • This week: vs. Fresno State (1-2); Saturday, noon (Big East Network, check local listings)

I want badly to put Cincinnati at the top spot, but I hold in regard Pitt's Youngstown-Navy-Buffalo troika slightly above the Bearcats' Rutgers-SE Missouri-Oregon State victories. (Because that Rutgers win isn't worth a whole lot right now.)

Cincinnati probably will end up being the better team by the end of the season, and a comprehensive victory over Fresno - who gave Boise State a run last week - might convince me to bump the Bearcats up.

Prediction: Cincinnati 34, Fresno State 21

  • 3. South Florida (3-0, 0-0)
  • This week: at Florida State (2-1); Saturday, noon (ESPNU)

We'll get to see if Jim Leavitt's Big East success is entirely due to Matt Grothe, or whether he's got some stuff in reserve. A win over FSU might just be USF's biggest in school history (certainly for recruiting), and FSU has been wildly inconsistent this season.

I think USF stays within the 14.-5-point spread, and if this game were three months from now, I might go USF. But...

Prediction: Florida State 24, South Florida 17

  • 4. West Virginia (2-1, 0-0)
  • This week: BYE

West Virginia returns with a Thursday night game against awful Colorado next week.

For lack of something better to talk about, how about WVU's female mascot? Gotta like a strong female who knows her way around a blunderbuss. On the other hand, the lack of Mountaineer facial hair disturbs me for some reason.

Prediction: Moonshine.

  • 5. UConn (2-1, 0-0)
  • This week: vs. Rhode Island (1-1); Saturday, noon (ESPN360.com)

Who designed a schedule that gave UConn a I-AA team and a bye to rest the injured starters before the big game at Pitt Oct. 10? I say, give that man a raise.

Prediction: Coming tomorrow, but come on. Seriously?

  • 6. Syracuse (1-2, 0-0)
  • This week: vs. Maine (2-1); Saturday, 7 p.m. (no TV)

I think I said my piece above, and really, it's been too long since hearing Dickie V for me to formulate more mockery. Welcome back to .500, you miserable bastards.

Prediction: Syracuse 35, Maine 7

  • 7. Louisville (1-1, 0-0)
  • This week: at Utah (2-1); Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (CBS-CS)

In a perfect world, UofL would do the right thing and beat those BCS interlopers from flyover country. Utah has struggled to beat San Jose State and Utah State this year before losing to toothless Oregon last week. So it is possible.

But I need to see a lot more out of Louisville before I predict them to win anything.

Prediction: Utah 44, Louisville 28

  • 8. Rutgers (2-1, 0-0)
  • This week: at Maryland (1-2); Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN360.com)

RU moves out of the basement if they don't embarrass the Big East against a godawful Maryland team that should be 0-3 (with just an OT win over I-AA James Madison to their credit). Of course, Rutgers might also be godawful.

I'm petty.

Prediction: Rutgers 0, Maryland minus-1

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And with that, SoBE is done for another week. See you next week, if I get around to it.