What we learned in the Big East, Week 7
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
With only three games this weekend, our Big East body of knowledge increased just slightly. But here's what we learned from Week 7:
1. Cincinnati needs Tony Pike back. No offense to Chazz Anderson, who did yeoman's work in going 2-0 as the Bearcats' third starting quarterback this season. But Cincinnati needs more experience and a stronger downfield threat under center against the better teams in the league, as evidenced by its 13-10 slugfest over Rutgers on Saturday. Pike, who broke his non-throwing arm at Akron last month, should be ready to play against Connecticut after the bye week.
2. Rutgers is just bad enough to be awful. Once again, the Scarlet Knights were in the game until the end and in a position to win. But an opponent's end zone is the safest place in the world to be when Rutgers has the ball with two minutes left. Three straight games now the Scarlet Knights have had a chance to drive the field for a winning touchdown, and they haven't come close to mounting a threat. The defense is playing well enough to win, but the offense isn't pulling its fair share. Now at 1-5 and 0-2 in the Big East, Rutgers might well be advised to start getting young players ready for next year.
3. West Virginia is still a mystery. It's hard to judge the Mountaineers on a performance without Pat White. That would be like trying to evaluate "Entourage" without Jeremy Piven. Still, West Virginia has too much offensive talent to wheeze by Syracuse like it did on Saturday. Even with White, the Mountaineers were having trouble scoring points. Maybe that's just who they are now. "Not many people think we're very good," coach Bill Stewart said. "But we keep winning." The Oct. 23 game against Auburn doesn't look nearly as exciting now as it did this summer.
4. Louisville can win without a big offensive night. It was only Memphis, and Louisville gave up 481 yards on defense. But by scoring twice on special teams, where they had been horrible most of the year, and once on a turnover, the Cardinals showed they can overcome an off night offensively. They still need a lot more consistency and fewer mistakes in order to be a legitimate Big East contender.
5. The Big East is going to be even more unpredictable than we thought. If the league's two worst teams, Rutgers and Syracuse, can hang with two of the supposedly better ones (Cincinnati and West Virginia) on the road, there's even less separation between the haves and the have-nots than previously imagined. We'll give league coaches a one-year pass on the "anybody can beat anybody" cliché, because that sure appears to be true this season.