What we learned in the Big East, Week 10

November, 8, 2009
11/08/09
12:12
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

1. Cincinnati has flaws, after all: It was tough to spot any weaknesses in the Bearcats before Saturday. They were among the nation's leaders in nearly every statistical category and hadn't played a close game all season. But the 47-45 nail-biter over UConn exposed some areas to exploit. A team with a big, physical offensive line and strong running game can overpower Cincinnati's defense, as Ryan Mathews first showed in the Fresno State game and Jordan Todman and the Huskies screamed on Saturday night. There's one opponent left on the Bearcats' schedule that fits that description, which means ...

2. Make Pitt the Big East co-favorite: The Panthers are on a major roll right now, having won their last two games by a combined margin of 78-24. They've got a tough-nosed offensive line and a great running game behind Dion Lewis, with as many or more weapons in the passing game as Cincinnati. Pitt's defense has improved after some early struggles. Right now, the Dec. 5 showdown between the two Big East heavyweights at Heinz Field looks like a toss-up.

3. West Virginia has lost is offensive mojo: Ever since Jarrett Brown's concussion early in the Marshall game, the Mountaineers have not been the same on offense. They scored 30 points in each of their first five games and haven't done so in any of their last four contests. After putting up just 19 in a loss to South Florida, they mustered only 17 points in an uninspiring win over Louisville on Saturday. Defenses have managed to bottle up the running game the past two weeks, and the passing game has lacked rhythm. Going into this week's cauldron at Cincinnati, West Virginia will need to figure out what's wrong and get back on track.

4. No one needs a bye more than UConn: Connecticut must be the most competitive 4-5 team in America. Its five losses have now come by a combined 15 points, and the Huskies could almost as easily be 9-0. They showed incredible grit to come back from 20 points down and turn Saturday's game against Cincinnati into a shootout, a type of game they didn't seem capable of playing most of the season. Still, this team has had more heartache in one year than some programs experience in a decade. This week's off week is much deserved and needed.

5. Syracuse and Louisville lack the proper tools on offense: The Orange and the Cardinals are battling head to head this week avoid the Big East basement, and a dearth of offensive playmakers is the reason why. Louisville outplayed West Virginia in most facets Saturday, but with a walk-on quarterback, a third-string freshman running back and a mistake-prone offensive line, it couldn't get into the end zone. Syracuse badly missed Mike Williams at Pitt, as no receiver had more than one catch, and quarterbacks Ryan Nassib and Greg Paulus combined for three interceptions. Both teams play hard every game, but this could be an ugly slugfest between two teams with ugly records.

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