Time to open up the mailbag ...
John in Altamonte Springs, Fla., writes: Can you do a segment highlighting the progress of our new incoming Big East members? I know my hometown school UCF is doing fairly well, but what about SDSU and Boise, as well as the other C-USA incoming members? I feel the Big East blog readers like myself would like to see how their future members are doing the season before entrance into the league as well as your take on them and use your expertise as a barometer for how they will succeed next year.
Andrea Adelson: First, here is a quick rundown on the records for incoming members:
UCF: 7-2, leading C-USA East
Boise State: 7-2, just fell out of Top 25 after upset loss to San Diego State; in three-way tie for first in Mountain West
San Diego State: 7-3, in first-place tie in Mountain West
Navy: 6-3 (joining in 2015)
Here are a few thoughts. I think the biggest surprise has been San Diego State. The Aztecs started the season 2-3, with a loss to San Jose State, so I did not get my hopes up for a good season. But since then, they have reeled off five straight wins, including an upset of Boise State last weekend. They have a great shot at a 10-win season if they can win their bowl game. As for Boise State, I am not too surprised to see some of the struggles. I think the Broncos are going to go into the Big East next year as one of the favorites, because they will return virtually everybody. My biggest disappointments have to be SMU and Houston. Nothing has gone right for the Cougars under first-year coach Tony Levine; and I wonder how much June Jones' near-departure to Arizona State has impacted the psyche of the program. As for UCF, I also expected the Knights to win the East, but it appears as if they will serve their postseason ban in Year 1 in the Big East. So that automatically disqualifies them from competing for a championship.
Lucy the Bearcat in Cincinnati writes: Is it just me or does Cincinnati seem to strike gold whenever they go to the backup QB? Collaros was discovered once Tony Pike was injured, and Brendon Kay seems to be a glimmer of hope in the QB spot after Munchie Legaux has let us down. Seems UC is good at recruiting backup quarterbacks that are anxious to get their shot in the spotlight.
Adelson: Great observation, Lucy. Every team should strive to have competition at quarterback, given the uncertainty that always surrounds the position. Plus, you do not want your starter to ever feel complacent, as if his job is his forever. Kay is not the only good backup Butch Jones has in his stable, either. He has done a great job stockpiling talent at quarterback.
Scott McPherson in Tallahassee, Fla., writes: B.J. Daniels is a great young man. I always said to him before (Tallahassee) Lincoln games, "Go have fun." For the most part, he did. I have seen him perform football miracles; I have seen B.J. take an entire team on his shoulders and carry them to unexpected victory after victory. Here's hoping he heals quickly and rehabs with the same enthusiasm that he brought to both Lincoln and USF football.
Adelson: Here, here, Scott. Everyone here at the Big East blog hopes Daniels has a very speedy recovery.
Bernard in Stillwater, Minn., writes: AA, what does the BE have to do to get the respect they deserve? I mean Notre Dame is supposed to be the fourth-best team in the country and someone from the bottom of our league played them more then tough this past week. How do we get some love from the writers, who frankly don't seem to watch any Big East games based on the way they write? I appreciate your time!
Adelson: For starters, Bernard, the Big East has to win those games. Coming close is not going to cut it when you are a league in desperate need of getting national respect. Playing Notre Dame close is all well and good, but a loss is still a loss, and you are not going to get credit for your conference by almost winning. When you have a marquee game like that, you have got to win it. Look at the nonconference wins for the Big East this season. The best one is ... Louisville over North Carolina? The Tar Heels have a winning record at least. Arkansas (4-5) and Virginia Tech (4-5) -- teams that were beaten by Rutgers, Cincinnati and Pitt -- do not.
Josh in Louisville writes: If Louisville finishes the regular season undefeated, do you think they will go down as the "worst" unbeaten team in the BCS era? Right now, they have only beaten two teams with winning records and Rutgers is the only one remaining that's above .500. Granted you can only play the teams on your schedule and it's not their fault, but this team shouldn't even be considered among the best of the best if they're undefeated right?!?
Adelson: Well, they are not considered one of the best of the best, Josh. That is clear in the rankings. The strength of schedule has been an absolute killer. Nobody anticipated Kentucky, FIU and Southern Miss would be as bad as they have been. But as for the worst unbeaten team -- that would be Hawaii, which finished the 2007 season ranked No. 10, the lowest of all unbeaten teams in the BCS era.
Paul in Lancaster, Pa., writes: Andrea,Longtime reader, first-time commenter -- YOU think it's maddening to watch Syracuse? Try bleeding Orange (Syracuse native and alum) and having to watch those guys! What's especially maddening is that I truly admire a lot of what Coach Doug Marrone has done and really want to see him succeed. But every mental miscue is just another blow to the credibility of the whole operation. The funny thing is, they've shown me enough this year to make me think we actually have a chance against Louisville. Crazy? Maybe. Loyal? Always. Keep up the excellent work!
Adelson: Thanks for writing in, Paul. You are not the only one who thinks Syracuse has a chance. I think the Orange do, too. AP college football writer Ralph Russo went ahead and called the upset, picking Syracuse 28-24.