Big East stock report

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
8:30
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

If my rap's soup, my beats is stock.

In other words, it's time for the Big East weekly stock report. There has been some serious shuffling in defensive player of the year race as we reach midseason. But that derby is still wide open.

Stock up

1. Dion Lewis: His stock was already high, but after the Pitt true freshman running back accumulated 180 yards and two touchdowns against Rutgers, it's through the roof. Lewis even appeared on a couple of Heisman Watch ballots this week (including mine).

2. Lawrence Wilson: It's time to recognize the job the UConn linebacker is doing this season. He's leading the league in tackles and had 16 stops against Louisville on Saturday. With Scott Lutrus missing most of the year, Wilson has picked up the slack.

3. Backup quarterbacks: Zach Collaros and Geno Smith each stepped in and led his team to victory after Tony Pike and Jarrett Brown went down with injuries this week, respectively. Adam Froman, who started the season as a backup to Justin Burke, had a solid game for Louisville at UConn.

4. Compassion: If anything good can come of the Jasper Howard tragedy, it's the camaraderie and compassion shown by the entire Big East toward Connecticut. I've always thought the league was unusually close-knit, due in large part to its small size, and that showed in how coaches and players responded to this difficult situation

Stock down


1. Home-field advantage: Visiting teams have won six of the first eight Big East conference games. The lone exceptions were Pitt's win over UConn and the Huskies' win over Louisville. What is going on here? Didn't anybody see that "We Must Protect This House" commercial?

2. Quarterback health: Matt Grothe, Tony Pike, Jarrett Brown, Justin Burke, Zach Frazer, Tom Savage. All have gotten hurt and had to miss significant time at some point this season. The only quarterback to start and finish every game this year has been Pitt's Bill Stull.

3. South Florida on Thursday night: For the third straight year, the Bulls lost a big Thursday night game. Two years ago, it was at Rutgers. Last year, Pitt. Last week, Cincinnati. Next time the Big East office calls with a Thursday night offer, I suggest the Bulls say, "You know what, our DVR is on the fritz and we want to watch 'The Office' and '30 Rock.' So we're going to pass. But thanks.'"

4. Rutgers' run defense: The Scarlet Knights came into last week's game ranked sixth in the nation in rush defense, allowing just 2.3 yards per carry. Lewis and Pitt showed that those stats were largely a product of Rutgers' easy schedule.

Player of the year race: Offense

1. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati: Has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns. May miss this week's game with an injured left forearm.

2. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: Leads the Big East and is second nationally with 918 rushing yards, plus nine touchdowns.

3. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has 734 rushing yards and nine scores.

4. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati: Has 43 catches for 592 yards and seven touchdowns.

5. Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse: Has 45 catches for 712 yards and six touchdowns.

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: Even though he's only been in a starting role for about four games, he's had a huge impact with 8.5 tackles for loss.

2. Lawrence Wilson, LB, UConn: See above.

3. Aaron Webster, S, Cincinnati: The leader of the Bearcats defense, he had his third interception at South Florida and returned it 83 yards.

4. Nate Allen, S, South Florida: Leads the league in passes defended and is second in interceptions, while ranking 14th in tackles.

5. Lindsey Witten, DE, UConn: Back on track last week, he now has a league-best 9.5 sacks, which ranks second nationally.

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