Week 4 review/Week 5 preview

September, 27, 2010
9/27/10
2:00
PM ET
The memory-wiping service featured in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" is offering discounts to all Big East teams should they want to clear this September from their brains. Until then, let's review what happened in another tough week for the league:

Team of the week: Syracuse. Not much to choose from here, and all the Orange did was beat Colgate at home. But the Orange are 3-1 for the first time since 2003, and I don't see any other Big East teams celebrating milestone victories right about now.

[+] EnlargeButch Jones
AP Photo/Al BehrmanCincinnati and coach Butch Jones showed flashes of promise in an exciting game against Oklahoma.
Best game: Cincinnati's 31-29 loss to Oklahoma. It was a game full of big plays and a stirring Bearcats comeback, in a unique atmosphere against a big-time opponent. Plus, it offered signs of what Cincinnati could become under Butch Jones.

Biggest play: This is a four-way tie, and it's all about kicking-game plays not properly executed.

D.J. Woods' fumbled punt for Cincinnati proved costly and maybe the turning point, along with a missed PAT that kept the Bearcats from being able to tie the score late with a two-point conversion. West Virginia allowed a punt return for a touchdown and missed two field goals (one of which was blocked) in a 20-14 loss at LSU.

Rutgers, normally so good at special teams, had a punt blocked that set up North Carolina's final field goal in a 17-13 loss. And Pitt's Cam Saddler fumbled away a punt return just as Pitt cut Miami's lead to 17-3 and finally appeared to have some momentum. The Panthers completely deflated after that.

Never underestimate the kicking game.

Best call: Randy Edsall's decision to lift Zach Frazer for Cody Endres at quarterback in the Buffalo game. The Huskies seemed to gain almost immediate confidence on offense, and Endres led them down the field to several scores in a 31-point second half. Edsall couldn't really have made the call any sooner since Endres was suspended until last week. But it was the right time to make a change.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati. I totally blew it in my helmet stickers this week, giving a nod to Woods instead of Pead. I'd like to blame it on too many Abitas in Baton Rouge, but it was really a case of a bad internet connection in the LSU press box and no TV access. But no excuses. Throw the penalty flag on me. Pead was huge in the second-half comeback, running for 139 of his 169 yards after intermission. Cincinnati is a different team with a healthy Pead able to take pressure off the passing game.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): Jerome Junior, S, Connecticut. Junior had a pair of interceptions, including one he returned 27 yards for the Huskies' first score against Buffalo.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Terrance Mitchell, South Florida. The true freshman had 94 yards on two punt returns, including a 64-yarder that set up a score against Western Kentucky.

Worst hangover: Pittsburgh. Sure, West Virginia, Rutgers and Cincinnati all lost their marquee matchups, too. But the total margin of defeat against LSU, Oklahoma and North Carolina was 12 points, at least giving some hope that each team can get things going. Pitt offered no reason for optimism in a 31-3 home collapse against Miami. The Panthers likely aren't as bad they showed last Thursday night, but they looked nothing like the preseason league favorite.

Strangest moment: With USF clinging to a 24-12 lead against Western Kentucky and the Hilltoppers about to go for an onside kick, Skip Holtz put quarterback B.J. Daniels in on his hands team. And wouldn't you know it: the ball went to Daniels, and he caught it. How many coaches would put their starting quarterback in that situation? Then again, given the kicking problems plaguing the league all during Week 4, it makes sense.

The good news for the Big East is that September is over. Here's how the hunt for a better October begins in a really lackluster week (games listed in descending order of interest/importance):

Vanderbilt at Connecticut (2-2): Hey, it's a chance for the Big East to beat an SEC team! (Crickets). But Vandy already has a better win than anybody in the Big East -- a 28-14 victory at Ole Miss. (ESPN3.com, Noon ET)

Florida International (0-3) at Pittsburgh (1-2): It's Panthers vs. Panthers. Don't sleep on FIU, which has opened its season playing Rutgers, Texas A&M and Maryland tough. If Pitt's head isn't right, an upset is possible. (3:30 ET)

Tulane (1-2) at Rutgers (2-1): Hey, remember when Tulane used to have that high-scoring offense with Shaun King? That was fun. Hey, remember when Rutgers' offense used to score points, too? (2 ET)

Florida Atlantic (1-2) at South Florida (2-1): The Big East tries to maintain its tenuous hold over the Sun Belt in the ESPN conference rankings. (ESPN3.com, 7:05 ET)

Louisville (1-2) at Arkansas State (1-3): You don't just walk into Jonesboro and expect to beat the Red Wolves. No, sir. (7 ET)

Bye: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Syracuse

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