What we learned in the Big East

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
10:00
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1. The Big East has a lot of work to do: It's folly to panic after the first week of the season. On the other hand, it was a brutally bad opening week for the Big East. Pitt, Connecticut, Cincinnati and Louisville all lost. UConn and Cincinnati were dominated. In fact, the only team to beat an FBS opponent was Syracuse, which won at Akron. This season began with a lot of promise for the league. Now, once again, there will be an uphill battle for respect.

[+] EnlargeNoel Devine
Douglas Jones/US PresswireNoel Devine rushed for 111 yards and a score on Saturday.
2. No clear favorite exists: We knew the Big East was fairly wide open, but at least Pitt was viewed as a solid favorite. It's clear after the first week that every team is flawed in some way. West Virginia is the only one of the preseason contenders still undefeated, but the Mountaineers needed a while before they could put away Coastal Carolina at home. Buckle up for a wild conference title race.

3. Truly offensive lines: The first week was filled with poor offensive line play by several league teams. Pitt's issues on the interior of the line were exposed by Utah. Rutgers struggled to push Norfolk State off the ball with its rebuilt line. West Virginia still hasn't solved its right side. And Cincinnati got blown up by Fresno State's defense. For these teams to get better, they first have to get right up front.

4. Not the same old Syracuse: The Orange won their season opener for the first time since 2003. Allow that fact to sink in for a moment. Syracuse destroyed Akron 29-3 on the road despite committing three turnovers. The Zips aren't a good team, but for the Orange to dominate an opponent on the road without their A-game is new territory. Doug Marrone's team should be at least 3-1 after its first four games -- and maybe better if it can knock off Washington this week in Seattle.

5. Butch Jones' honeymoon is over: You never want to follow the most successful coach in school history. So Butch Jones already faced that challenge in succeeding Brian Kelly at Cincinnati. Then the schedule did him no favors by making him play his first game at Fresno State. After his team got manhandled in the second half there, Jones now has to lead his team to NC State and against Oklahoma in two of the next three games. The Bearcats could be in for a rough start to the season, and Jones could hear some early grumbling from fans who were spoiled during Kelly's run.

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BIG EAST TEAM COVERAGE