What we learned in the Big East, Week 9

November, 1, 2009
11/01/09
10:00
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

1. It's a two-team race: West Virginia's loss means that only Pitt and Cincinnati remain unbeaten in the Big East. Sure, the Mountaineers can still capture the league title if they win out and beat both the Panthers and Bearcats. But right now, Cincinnati and Pitt are in the driver's seat, especially since both teams have only one road game left. The Dec. 5 game between the two in Heinz Field looks more and more like the de facto Big East championship game.

2. Maybe this isn't the same old South Florida: It was easy to dismiss South Florida as another September sensation/October fraud after the Bulls' losses to Cincinnati and Pitt. But they bounced back in a big way to beat West Virginia 30-19 on Friday. Maybe South Florida just got overpowered by the league's best two teams. The Bulls can still contend for a nine- or 10-win season, which would be an achievement for this young program.

3. West Virginia has an uphill climb: Two straight years without a Big East title seems like a crisis in Morgantown, and that looks like where we're headed. The Mountaineers have been inconsistent on offense and have been susceptible to the pass on defense, and both those flaws came back to bite them in their new house of horrors, Raymond James Stadium. West Virginia now most likely will have to win at Cincinnati and topple Pitt at home to have any chance of going back to the BCS.

4. Rutgers is going bowling; UConn may not be: Rutgers came within 22 seconds of starting 0-3 in the Big East. Instead, a huge play from Tom Savage to Tim Brown may have changed this season's outlook. Now the Scarlet Knights are almost certainly going back to a bowl. Meanwhile, UConn -- which Rutgers victimized with that game-winner -- will have to split its last four games to qualify for a bowl. And that schedule includes trips to two ranked teams, Cincinnati and Notre Dame, and a visit from possibly resurgent South Florida.

5. Cincinnati might have the best two quarterbacks in the Big East: Apologies to Bill Stull, Jarrett Brown and others. But what Zach Collaros has done since replacing the injured Tony Pike is simply astounding. Collaros has gone 41-for-52 (78.8 percent) for 620 yards and seven touchdowns while running for 206 yards and two scores in 2 1/2 games. Can Brian Kelly coach quarterbacks or what? The Big East will have to deal with Collaros for the next couple of years when Pike is gone.

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