What we learned in the Big East, Week 3
With only four games this week, the Big East offered more of a community-college summer course than a graduate-level seminar. But we still have some higher education. Let's get our learn on.
1. South Florida has more offensive weapons than ever before.
In years past, the Bulls would have had a hard time keeping up with Kansas on a night when Matt Grothe's running threat was stymied and their top two tailbacks, Ben Williams and Mike Ford, contributed nothing. But Grothe has matured as a pocket passer, and he's got top-flight targets like Taurus Johnson, Jessie Hester and A.J. Love at wideout and Cedric Hill at tight end. And on Friday night, sophomore Jamar Taylor stepped in at running back and had 72 yards on 11 carries, including a 13-yard touchdown rumble.
"We've got so many great backs, it's unbelievable," Taylor said.
2. Connecticut has more flavors than just vanilla.
The knock on the Huskies was that they were a boring, ball control team that didn't have enough offensive firepower to beat the truly elite outfits. Saturday's 45-10 win over Virginia may have ended such talk. UConn got another outstanding performance from running back Donald Brown, who had 206 yards on 20 carries and scored three times in three quarters. But more importantly, quarterback Tyler Lorenzen finally looked comfortable, going 13-for-15 for 124 yards and his first passing touchdown of the year. Safety Darius Butler got involved on offense in a few new creative wrinkles, and freshman Jordan Todman added a spark in his debut. UConn was nearly as impressive in pounding Virginia as USC was in Week 1. Its defense and running game will always be there. If the Huskies add in more explosive elements on offense, they just might win the Big East.
3. Rutgers is suffering from an identity crisis.
Are the Scarlet Knights a running team like they were with Ray Rice, or should they go to a wide-open passing game and use the talents of Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood, their best two players? They've been somewhere in between in the first two games, doing neither very well, and the results have been ugly to watch. Mike Teel has played horribly at quarterback, and some fans are even wondering whether he should be lifted for the more athletic Jabu Lovelace. Rutgers needs to figure out what it does best and exploit that, or else it's going to be a long season in Piscataway.
4. Syracuse had better beat Northeastern.
Speaking of long seasons. Sadly, there was absolutely nothing in Syracuse's 55-13 loss to Penn State that came as a surprise to anyone. Akron, which beat the Orange at home a week earlier, followed that up by losing at home to Ball State by 17. Syracuse just plain stinks, and if it doesn't dispatch Division I-AA Northeastern this week, it may well go 0-12.
5. The Big East isn't all bad.
OK, so Syracuse and Rutgers contributed to the league's embarrassing losses. But South Florida took out a good Kansas team in an exciting game, and UConn clicked on all cylinders against an ACC team (granted, a bad ACC team, but still). If West Virginia can rebound this week at Colorado, the top tier of the Big East might be worth watching after all.