Big East weekend rewind: Week 2

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
1:00
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Let's take one look back at Week 2 before moving on to Week 3 in the Big East.

[+] EnlargeRay Graham
AP Photo/Don WrightPittsburgh's Ray Graham leads the nation in rushing.
The good: OK, so Week 2 was not as good as Week 1. Perhaps Big East fans can take solace in knowing that the Big Ten might have fared worse this past weekend, with losses to teams like New Mexico State and Rice. One other bright spot: the league does still have two ranked teams -- more than the zero that started the season. West Virginia is up to No. 18 and USF to No. 20 in the latest AP poll. USF had the best game of the weekend -- more on that later. While Pitt continues to struggle with its new offense, running back Ray Graham does not. Graham leads the nation in rushing, averaging 161 yards a game. His six rushing touchdowns are tied for the national lead with Temple's Bernard Pierce. Graham is tied for second nationally in overall scoring with 18 ppg.

Though Cincinnati lost to Tennessee, Isaiah Pead showed what makes him one of the best backs in the Big East. His 65-yard touchdown run to open the game showcased his talent -- he leads the league with a whopping 11.5 yards per carry. While UConn has little offense to speak of, redshirt freshman Lyle McCombs has two straight 100-yard rushing games, putting him second in the league in rushing. Could he be supplanting expected starter D.J. Shoemate? Rutgers might have suffered a disappointing loss to North Carolina, but its defense has been one of the most opportunistic in the Big East. Already, the Scarlet Knights have forced five fumbles and gotten five interceptions, while adding a league-leading nine sacks. Rutgers is at plus-eight on the season in turnover margin, but Cincinnati (plus-seven) and USF (plus-six) are right behind.

The bad: Louisville outgained FIU (446-293), had more first downs (24-9), an edge in time of possession (14:16) and ran 86 plays, but big plays killed the Cardinals. The defense allowed TD passes of 74 and 83 yards to T.Y. Hilton and had two turnovers to zero for the Panthers in the disappointing loss. Three FCS opponents put a scare into Big East teams -- Maine made things uncomfortable for Pitt, and Rhode Island made things uncomfortable for Syracuse. West Virginia trailed Norfolk State at halftime. All three Big East teams ended up winning -- but they have really big tests this week and cannot afford the sloppy play that plagued them at times last weekend. If you want to look at the bright side -- Syracuse is 2-0 for the first time since 1999, while Pitt and West Virginia also are unbeaten.

UConn had Vanderbilt beaten, but the Huskies' offense could not get out of its own way. Johnny McEntee had four turnovers. His final interception was returned for the game-tying score. UConn did not have a first down the rest of the game and Vandy won 24-21. The Huskies had no offensive touchdowns in the game. Rutgers, meanwhile, continues to struggle rushing the football. The Scarlet Knights had 1 total yard rushing against North Carolina, mainly because of sacks. But if you add up what the backs gained, it still was not pretty. De'Antwan Williams, Jeremy Deering, Joe Martinek and Savon Huggins combined for 18 yards on 20 carries. Rutgers ranks last in the Big East in rushing offense, averaging 69 yards a game and 2.1 yards a carry.

And it is the same old story in Cincinnati. The Bearcats find themselves at the bottom of the league in total defense after finishing seventh in the league last season. The biggest problem was through the air, where the bigger Tennessee receivers had a size advantage and burned the Bearcats. Tyler Bray had 405 yards passing.

Career days: Here is a look at some players who had career days this weekend.

  • Louisville tight end Josh Chichester: six receptions for a career-high 111 yards.
  • Louisville quarterback Will Stein: 30-of-43 for 349 yards and two touchdowns. The completions and yardage totals
    were both career highs.
  • Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu: career-high 13 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown.
  • Pitt receiver Devin Street: career highs of six receptions and 74 receiving yards.
  • USF quarterback B.J. Daniels: career highs in passing yards (359), completions (28) and attempts (39).
  • West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith: 20-of-34 for a career-high 371 yards. His four touchdown passes tied a career high.
  • Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib: tied a school record for completions with 29 on 37 attempts for 318 yards and three touchdowns.
Looking ahead: Here is the Week 3 slate for the Big East. The league has five games against AQ opponents from the five different conferences.

  • Iowa State at UConn, Friday, 8 p.m., ESPN2
  • Pitt at Iowa, Saturday, noon, ESPN2
  • West Virginia at Maryland, Saturday, noon, ESPNU
  • Akron at Cincinnati, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3
  • Louisville at Kentucky, Saturday, 7 p.m., ESPNU
  • Florida A&M at USF, Saturday, 7 p.m., Big East Network
  • Syracuse at USC, Saturday, 8 p.m., FX

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