What we learned in the Big East: Week 12

November, 21, 2010
11/21/10
10:00
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1. And then there were three: Lots of wacky scenarios remain possible in the Big East race, but in all likelihood this is now a three-team derby. Pitt still has the inside lane with a one-game lead over the field, but West Virginia and Connecticut are right behind the Panthers with two conference losses, and the Mountaineers play Pitt on Friday. UConn wins all head-to-head tiebreakers with both West Virginia and Pitt by virtue of its wins over each. Pitt just needs to win out to take the title, while West Virginia needs a UConn loss somewhere along the way.

2. Connecticut is back: Back to where we thought this team would be at the beginning of the season, that is. UConn beat Pitt and West Virginia and home, but we had to see the Huskies win their first road game to truly believe they had turned things around. Well, they steamrolled Syracuse at the Carrier Dome, as the defense completely controlled the line of scrimmage. The Huskies running game is nearly unstoppable at this point as Jordan Todman is cruising toward Big East player of the year honors. Randy Edsall looked like he had a fiasco on his hands after his team started 0-2 in conference play and got shut out at Louisville after a suspension and dismissal of his starting quarterback. Edsall somehow has righted this ship, and UConn might yet win the league.

3. West Virginia's defense is ridiculous: Two weeks ago, West Virginia held Cincinnati to just 10 points. That same Cincinnati team nearly hung 70 on Rutgers on Saturday night. The Mountaineers went into Louisville this weekend and limited the Big East's best rushing team to 26 yards on the ground. This may be the best defense in school history, and it's one that is earning its top five national rankings. If the Mountaineers don't win the league title, they may look back with regret at wasting such an historically dominant side of the ball.

[+] EnlargePittsburgh quarterback Tino Sunseri
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaTino Sunseri opened up the offense in the second half against South Florida as Pitt went on to win 17-10.
4. The Big East title goes through Tino Sunseri: Pittsburgh can only beat West Virginia and win the league title if quarterback Sunseri is on his game. His importance to the Panthers was shown in the South Florida game. He struggled in the first half and made poor decisions as the game went to halftime tied at 3. Sunseri was sharp in the second half and helped open up the offense as Pitt went on to win 17-10. Pitt is still too sloppy too much of the time, but it can overcome that with all of its talent. But only if Sunseri is on point and making the attack multi-dimensional.

5. Rutgers is a total mess: It's not just that the Scarlet Knights have lost four straight, which is bad enough. Their defense, which was the strength of the team, has gone into a major funk. They allowed 41 to Pitt, 28 to USF and an unfathomable 69 to Cincinnati on Saturday. The team hasn't won since the Eric LeGrand injury, and you wonder how much that took out of them emotionally. Either way, it looks like this 4-6 team is not going bowling for the first time since 2004. The offseason will be a time for Greg Schiao to re-evaluate a program which took a major step backward in 2010.

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