Big Ten: American Athletic Conference

Video: UCF 34, Penn State 31

September, 14, 2013

Blake Bortles passed for three touchdowns to help UCF beat Penn State 34-31 and give the Knights their first win ever against a Big Ten school.
Cincinnati and Purdue entered Saturday's opener with two new coaches who had overseen quarterback competitions in recent weeks.

The similarities between the two teams pretty much end there.

Cincinnati found its quarterback (Munchie Legaux) and its swagger, continuing its winning ways under new boss Tommy Tuberville. Purdue, meanwhile, appears to be in disarray one game into the Darrell Hazell era.

Legaux led an opportunistic offense and Cincinnati pummeled a mistake-ridden Purdue team to win 42-7 at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats went 9-for-15 on third down and 3-for-4 on fourth down against a Boiler defense that couldn't get off of the field. Purdue surrendered 425 yards and 20 first downs.

The Boilers' problems were much worse on offense. Senior quarterback Rob Henry threw an interception on the game's first series and was pick-sixed by Adrian Witty midway through the third quarter as Cincinnati began to pull away. He threw off of his back foot and couldn't find a rhythm.The Boilers' only points in the first three quarters came after Cincinnati muffed a punt deep in its own territory.

Legaux accounted for 200 yards (145 pass, 55 rush) and two touchdowns as Cincinnati employed a balanced attack. Brendon Kay, who competed with Legaux throughout the preseason, fired a 51-yard touchdown strike on his first attempt. Cincinnati looks like a team that could soon enter the Top 25 and challenge Louisville in the American.

Tuberville has to be encouraged with Cincinnati's debut. It's a different story for Hazell, who stresses discipline but watched his team show little in the opener, as Purdue committed three turnovers and seven penalties.

Offensive coordinator John Shoop and Hazell have a lot to work on before next week's home opener against Indiana State. They kept Henry in the game despite his struggles rather than go to a freshman (Austin Appleby or Danny Etling). Is a change in order?

Purdue plays the Big Ten's toughest schedule, so things could get away from the Boilers in a hurry. Henry is a popular veteran who has been through a lot, but Hazell has to decide if the future (Etling) is now.
The debate over top individual classes is a fierce and long standing one in the world of recruiting, but a look at how conferences stack up against each other on the recruiting trail can offer great insight as well. The SEC has been dominant on the field and on the recruiting trail -- it's nabbed the top class four out of the last five years. For 2014, the SEC is making a push to claim the top class again with multiple teams ranked in the top 10 of ESPN RecruitingNation's class rankings. The SEC is not the only conference enjoying recruiting success though, as several others are showing similar depth.

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Spreecast: Conference perceptions

August, 13, 2013
AM ET bloggers Heather Dinich, Adam Rittenberg, Edward Aschoff and Ted Miller discuss the perceptions of the major conferences.