What we learned in the Big East: Week 1

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
10:00
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What did we learn in Week 1?

1. The Big East came to play. The league is 7-0 with the West Virginia-Marshall game left on the slate, a terrific start for a league that was in need of one. Sure, some of the wins came against FCS teams, but at least there is no Oregon State among the bunch. Syracuse and Wake Forest played the most exciting game of opening night Thursday, then USF topped it off with a 23-20 win over No. 16 Notre Dame on Saturday night.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Daniels
AP Photo/Michael ConroyB.J. Daniels had 128 yards on 18-of-30 passing in USF's win over Notre Dame.
2. USF is a player. No more dark horse talk for the Bulls. They announced themselves loud and clear in their win over Notre Dame. Many people, myself included, picked USF to lose a close game. But the Bulls showed a tenacity to make the plays when they had to in critical situations. B.J. Daniels looked more comfortable running the offense, and it was good to see him get involved in the run game again. Sure the offense could have used a bit more consistency, but nobody is complaining after a win.

3. Pitt is a work in progress. Maybe we were too quick to anoint Pitt as fine purveyors of a high-octane offense. What the Panthers did on Saturday was far from high and octane and closer to chug, chug, chug. Expectations were perhaps set too high. After all, the Panthers are trying to run a spread-type scheme with pro-style players. The Panthers only passed for 179 yards and went 4-for-11 on third down. It is no wonder that Ray Graham emerged to have a huge day. We probably will see plenty more of that as the season goes on.

4. Not much learned from Rutgers, Cincinnati or UConn. All three teams easily beat overmatched opponents. The Huskies still don't have an answer at quarterback after playing Michael Nebrich, Johnny McEntee and Scott McCummings. The Bearcats don't know how much better their defense is headed into a big game at Tennessee next weekend. And Rutgers doesn't have much more clarity at running back. Four backs played against NC Central, but coach Greg Schiano says that probably won't be the case next week at North Carolina.

5. Louisville, Syracuse still works in progress. There were questions going into the season about whether both teams would be able to build off bowl seasons from a year ago. The Cardinals' defense looked strong in a win over Murray State, but the offense did not have much to brag about. The offensive line broke in five new starters and it showed. Running backs Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright fumbled. Will Stein was up and down. They will face a big test from FIU this week. Meanwhile, Syracuse sleep walked through three quarters against Wake Forest before springing to life. Is the defense the one we saw through three quarters or the one we saw in the fourth? We shall tune in next week to find out.

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