What we learned in the Big East: Week 9

October, 31, 2010
10/31/10
10:00
AM ET
1. There's Pitt, and then Syracuse, and, um ...: Who's any good in the Big East? Pitt has established itself as the clear big dog now with a 3-0 start, including a blowout win against the second-best team, Syracuse. The Orange deserve that title thanks to three straight road wins, especially beating supposed contenders West Virginia and Cincinnati. After those two, it's one big jumble, with five teams standing at 1-2 in league play. It looks like the Big East's BCS representative could have three or four losses, which is embarrassing. But at least we now have a pecking order established -- this week.

[+] EnlargeJock Sanders
AP Photo/Fred BeckhamJock Sanders and the Mountaineers need to get a handle on their season, or the criticism of coach Bill Stewart and his staff will get louder.
2. Bill Stewart's seat is getting much warmer: A large contingent of West Virginia fans have always doubted Stewart's ability to lead the Mountaineers to the big time. That talk died down after a 5-1 start, but now the volume is on full blast after back-to-back losses to Syracuse and Connecticut. The once high-scoring Mountaineers managed only 27 points in the two games and let a UConn team that looked putrid the week before pull off its first-ever win in the series. This was supposed to be Stewart's best team, but all of a sudden he's 5-3 and now hoping for another nine-win season. Criticism of him and offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen is at an all-time high, and they need to do something the rest of the way to calm that noise.

3. Cincinnati is in deep trouble: Bill Stewart's shoes might be the only ones Butch Jones wouldn't trade places with right now. The first-year Bearcats coach has taken a two-time BCS team and guided it to a 3-5 record. Cincinnati isn't going bowling unless it wins at least three of its last four games, and those include a trip to West Virginia and a visit from Pitt. Jones has been dealt all kinds of adversity this year, with Zach Collaros' injury being just the latest. We'll see how forgiving the nouveau riche Cincinnati fans are.

4. Syracuse could go to a big bowl: Orange fans were mainly hoping to attain bowl eligibility and get an invite to the Beef O'Brady's or Pinstripe bowls. But now they can aim higher. Syracuse still needs one more win to be eligible because of its two FCS victories, but with a very manageable schedule the rest of the way (Louisville, UConn, at Rutgers and Boston College), there's no reason the team can't get to eight or nine wins or beyond. And given the dreadful state of the league, a trip to the Champs Sports or Meineke Car Care bowls -- which qualify as big ones in this conference -- isn't out of the question. Heck, the league title isn't off the table, either.

5. UConn isn't finished yet: While much of the storyline of Friday's game centered around West Virginia's problems, don't forget the winning team. The Huskies looked like toast after starting off 0-2 in the league and getting shut out by Louisville. They showed a lot of character in bouncing back, rallying from a 10-point deficit and finally overcoming their Big East nemesis. Zach Frazer was back at quarterback, and while he wasn't spectacular, he didn't turn the ball over. People who were calling for Randy Edsall's firing were just plain foolish. It will take a near miraculous turn of events for UConn to get back into the Big East title picture, but the Huskies have a chance to go bowling now that they're back to .500

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