- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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What did we learn in the Big East in Week 12? Glad you asked.
1. Stability? What? Just when you thought it was safe to dream (and/or incorrectly speculate) about stability in college football … wham! Realignment became a hot topic once again on another college football Saturday. Sources told ESPN that Maryland is in talks with the Big Ten about jumping from the ACC. If that happens, Rutgers is expected to follow. And where would the ACC look to fill its opening? You can guess. Nothing official has been announced. But if something does happen, Rutgers would be the ninth Big East school to leave the conference since 2004. Stay tuned. This should be an interesting week.
2. Big East title should be settled in New Jersey. Rutgers had quite the impressive defensive performance in a 10-3 win over Cincinnati, all but assuring us of a de facto Big East championship game in Piscataway on Thursday, Nov. 29. This is precisely why the Big East made the schedule this way. No. 22 Rutgers remains the only unbeaten team in Big East play at 5-0. Even if the Scarlet Knights lose at Pitt next week, they would still have a winner-take-BCS matchup on their hands against Louisville -- provided the Cardinals come off their bye and beat UConn. Even if both Rutgers and Louisville go into the regular-season finale with matching 5-1 league marks, the winner goes to the BCS.
3. Stats leaders. It was a banner day in the stats column for two Big East players. First, Temple running back Montel Harris set Big East records with 351 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns in a 63-32 win over Army. He had the highest rushing total of any player in Week 12, despite missing practice all week with a minor knee injury. Temple also tied or set eight different school records, including rushing yards (534) and touchdowns in a game (nine). Later in the evening, Syracuse's Alec Lemon posted the highest receiving total of anybody in Week 12, when he set a career-high with 244 yards receiving in a 31-27 win over Missouri. Lemon caught the 17-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the game. His receiving total ranks No. 3 in Big East history. Quarterback Ryan Nassib also had his sixth 300-yard passing day and set the school career passing record with 8,845 yards.
4. Big East > SEC? Made you look! The Big East may not have half its teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, but it does own a 3-0 record against the SEC this season, after Syracuse pulled the upset on the Missouri Tigers. The Orange joined Louisville (over Kentucky) and Rutgers (over Arkansas) with wins over the top conference in the land, making the Big East a perfect 3-0 against the SEC this season. The last time the Big East went unbeaten versus the SEC was back in 2006, when Louisville beat Kentucky and West Virginia beat Mississippi State. While it is true none of these SEC teams have winning records, it is also true that only Louisville was expected to win its game this year. When you are a league like the Big East, you take any opportunity to beat a team from the SEC, no matter who they are. Both Rutgers and Syracuse booked their SEC road games late, and many thought that could be trouble. But both pulled them out. And now Syracuse is going bowling again.
5. USF may not win another game this year. That is my blunt assessment off a really bad 40-9 loss to Miami. Look, I realize that the Bulls ended up really getting hurt when Bobby Eveld went down with a shoulder injury -- only a quarter after burning his redshirt. But here is the thing. Matt Floyd was the backup behind B.J. Daniels all season. He played in several games this year. And Miami has one of the worst defenses in the nation. And yet, USF could not score a single touchdown on this team for the second straight year. Skip Holtz did his team no favors with poor clock management at the end of the first half, and his decision to settle for field goals in the fourth quarter. Injuries have piled up everywhere on offense, and it showed Saturday. Remaining on the schedule: at Cincinnati; Pitt.