Sunday, November 11, 2012
What we learned in the Big East: Week 11
By Andrea Adelson
What did we learn in the Big East in Week 11? Glad you asked.
1. Unbeaten no more. Well, the Big East had a good run while it lasted. After starting the season with three unbeaten teams, the league is down to zero after No. 9 Louisville lost 45-26 to Syracuse on Saturday afternoon. Now, this does not necessarily mean doomsday is coming to the Big East. Despite being unbeaten, the Cardinals were not in the national championship discussion. The Big East will still have two ranked teams when the new BCS standings come out later today, and the chance to see three finish with 10 victories. That would still be a huge accomplishment, but clearly losing the way Louisville did hurts not only the Cardinals but the league itself. When you are a Top-10 team, you simply cannot go on the road and lose the way Louisville did. In a word, the Cardinals were outplayed. Shoot, they were not even really competitive, falling behind by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter. When you live on the edge in games the way Louisville had all season, sooner or later one will rear up and bite you.
2. Rutgers alone in first. Now that Louisville lost its first Big East game, Rutgers is alone in first place in the Big East standings with three weeks to go. Essentially, if one of these two teams can win out, it will get to a BCS game. Rutgers has played two straight nonconference games so it has taken a break from Big East play, but it's not as if the Scarlet Knights have solidified their spot at the top. Coming off a loss to Kent State, Rutgers looked lethargic for most of its 28-7 win over Army on Saturday. Rutgers had only 252 yards of total offense, and the score was tied at 7 heading into the fourth quarter before Rutgers ended on a 21-0 run. The Scarlet Knights have done nothing to alleviate concerns about their offense now that they are set to get back into Big East play next week at Cincinnati.
Syracuse RB Jerome Smith continued his recent surge in Saturday's win over Louisville.
3. Syracuse finally put everything together. If you are an Orange fan, it is hard not to go over all the coulda, woulda, shoulda moments of the season. If not for X turnover, if not for Y penalty, against Z opponent then ... who knows, maybe Syracuse could be 8-2 and in control of the Big East! But the reality is that this is a .500 team that has played average football. Meaning, there have been some great moments for the Orange, such as Saturday's huge win over Louisville, and there have been some low moments for the Orange, such as a head-scratching loss to Minnesota. We saw an inspired football team beat up on the Cardinals, one that did not make any turnovers for only the third time all season. Jerome Smith has come on strong, with four straight 100-yard games. Alec Lemon had his second straight 100-yard game. And the defense played one of its better games of the season. Now the question -- can the Orange harness this momentum into bowl eligibility?
4. Brendon Kay-n do it. Apologies for the pun, but boy oh boy, did Brendon Kay have an outstanding performance for Cincinnati in a 34-10 win over Temple. I can just see my mailbag filling up with angry Bearcats fans wondering why Butch Jones didn't pull Munchie Legaux earlier in the season. Kay made his first career start and finished 13-of-21 for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- including a 71-yarder to Kenbrell Thompkins. Not to be outdone by his running QB counterparts, Kay added 71 yards rushing on seven carries. Do not sleep on the Bearcats, either. Now that Louisville has lost, the door is open for the Bearcats to try to get back to a BCS game. They need to win out and then hope Rutgers beats Louisville.
5. UConn shows signs of life; Pitt, not so much. Everybody left UConn at the bottom of the Big East cellar headed into this week, given what we have (or have not) seen out of this team in four straight losses. But hey, the Huskies have not completely thrown in the towel just yet. They had their best offensive performance since September in a 24-17 win over Pitt on Friday night. Now it wasn't easy for the Huskies, who seem to be allergic to scoring touchdowns in the second half of games. Pitt sleepwalked through three quarters, clearly out of it after its heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame last week. By the time the Panthers got serious and tried to win, it was too late. Both teams have to win out to become bowl eligible. Their prospects look dim.