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Big East stock report: Week 14

11/30/2010

One last regular-season stock report:

Stock up

1. Revolution No. 9: Whether the Big East does anything else after this, adding TCU as its ninth football member was a bold stroke that instantly enhances the league's reputation while concurrently crippling the Mountain West. The conference has forever been changed.

2. Bobby Eveld: How about a true freshman walk-on quarterback leading South Florida to victory at Miami? Amazing story, and I'll have more on Eveld later Wednesday.

3. Shawne Alston: The West Virginia running back is becoming more prominent as Noel Devine can't stay healthy, and Alston -- who had 71 yards on 16 carries at Pitt last week -- could be the featured ball-carrier for the Mountaineers next season.

4. Connecticut's turnover margin: The Huskies struggled with giving the ball away earlier in the season, but now they've flipped the script. In conference play, they lead the league with a plus-7 margin, including a Big East-best 14 takeaways. That's a major reason why the Huskies are in position to make a BCS game.

5. USF's tailbacks: Mo Plancher and Demetris Murray combined for 143 yards against Miami, and in three of the last four games one of them has eclipsed 100 yards. The Bulls' running game still doesn't blow you away, but it's vastly improved over last year. As a tandem, Plancher and Murray have combined for 1,153 yards this season.

6. Kick returners : Connecticut's Nick Williams got enough attempts to qualify for national rankings this week and took over as the No. 1 returner in the FBS. He's averaging an absurd 42.1 yards per attempt, aided by two long touchdowns. The Big East also has two other players in the top 13: Louisville's Victor Anderson (fifth) and South Florida's Lindsey Lamar (13th)

Stock down

1. Villanova's heel-dragging: Moving up to the FBS is a large undertaking and a difficult decision. But if Villanova doesn't make a call until April, that means the school will have taken seven months to give the league an answer. Throw in the three years before the Wildcats could actually join the Big East, and that's a long time to wait for a team that may or may not even be competitive right away.

2. Vidal Hazelton's Cincinnati contributions: You can't help but feel bad for Hazelton, the former USC transfer who had one year of eligibility with the Bearcats. The school has determined that he won't get a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, so the receiver who tore his ACL in the opener will try to play this Saturday against Pitt. (He dressed but did not play at UConn). Hazelton's entire on-the-field contribution at Cincinnati could wind up being little more than half a game.

3. Pittsburgh's cornerbacks: Pitt's corners seemed to have regressed late in the year Antwuan Reed and Ricky Gary were called for four penalties in the South Florida game, and West Virginia decided to test them last week. It worked, as Geno Smith threw three touchdown passes and three completions of more than 35 yards on just 12 attempts.

4. Rutgers' sacks allowed: The Scarlet Knights have already given up 55 sacks on the season, and that's before facing the powerful West Virginia defense this week. The most sacks any team has allowed in a season the last five years is 59 by Miami of Ohio in 2009. Rutgers could shatter that this weekend.