What we learned in the Big East, Week 11

November, 15, 2009
11/15/09
12:25
PM ET
1. One game to rule them all: If all you care about is the Big East title, then you can go ahead and nap until Dec. 5. The Cincinnati-Pittsburgh showdown that day is the only game that matters for the league race. Of course, there's still the matter of the Bearcats' longshot BCS title hopes, and Cincinnati has to get by Illinois the day after Thanksgiving to keep those alive. But for the Big East's BCS bid, Dec. 5 is day of reckoning.

2. Pitt is ready for prime time: Pittsburgh's Top 10 ranking in the human polls raised some skepticism, since the Panthers hadn't really beaten a big-time opponent. And while Notre Dame, at just 6-4 now, can't be considered a national power, a national audience got to see just how talented Pitt is. You can't deny that the Fighting Irish have plenty of future pros on their roster, especially offensively. The Panthers, with guys like Jonathan Baldwin, Dion Lewis, Jabaal Sheard and Greg Romeus, were simply the more talented, better-coached team.

3. Rutgers is putting things together: The Scarlet Knights registered their best win of the year with a 31-0 domination of a ranked South Florida team. Greg Schiano's trademarked aggressive defense was at its best in grabbing four turnovers and recording seven sacks, while the offense behind Tom Savage has clearly made strides. Now at 7-2 with winnable games left against Syracuse, Louisville and West Virginia, Rutgers has a shot at a 10-win season.

4. Just call them South Fraudula: As well as Rutgers played, there's no excuse -- none -- for South Florida's truly putrid performance in that Thursday night game. The Bulls would have had as much of a chance had they never gotten off the plane. I wrote in this space after the West Virginia win that maybe South Florida had turned over a new leaf; instead, it looks like the Bulls played as well as they always do against the Mountaineers but still can't beat any other decent Big East teams. They have lost to Cincinnati, Pitt and Rutgers by a combined 75 points.

5. Syracuse's rebuilding has hit a wall: It's hard to argue against the notion that the Orange have made significant improvements from the Greg Robinson era. But they're going to end up with a Greg Robinson record. Given all the roster depletion, Saturday's game at Louisville represented the last realistic shot at a victory for Syracuse, which missed an extra point and threw an interception in the final minute to lose 10-9. That means the Orange will almost certainly finish with the same 3-9 record as last year. Though Doug Marrone has done a lot of good things, this shows that it's not easy to rebuild a broken program overnight.

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