Big East Week 1 review/Week 2 preview

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
9:45
AM ET
The season's first chapter is complete. Here's the book report.

Team of the week: Syracuse. Bet you didn't think you'd see those words together after Week 1. But the Orange were the only Big East team to beat an FBS opponent in the first week, handily dispatching Akron 29-3. Yes, the Zips are bad. But the game was on the road, and Syracuse won its opener for the first time since 2003.

[+] EnlargeRyan Nassib
Jason Miller/US PresswireQuarterback Ryan Nassib led Syracuse to the most impressive Big East victory of Week 1.
Best game: It was sloppy on both sides, with botched coverages and too many yellow flags. But Utah's 27-24 overtime win over Pitt was never short on drama, especially at the end when the Panthers mounted a comeback to tie the game.

Biggest play: Tino Sunseri's interception on the first play of that overtime game for Pitt. Mike Shanahan was open, but Sunseri waited a beat too long to deliver the ball and then put it in the wrong place. That sealed the Panthers' fate, and started the downward Week 1 spiral for the Big East.

Best call: Rich Rodriguez's decision to go with Denard Robinson as his starting quarterback. Rodriguez had declined to officially name a starter before Saturday. Then he unleashed Robinson, who brought back Pat White nightmares for Connecticut's torched defense.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville. I don't like to give this award to players whose teams lost. I really don't like giving it to players whose teams played FCS opponents. So, um, yeah. I had to break Rule No. 1 and go with Powell, who's now leading the Big East in rushing after 153 yards -- and an 80-yard touchdown -- in the 23-16 loss to Kentucky.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): Brandon Hogan, CB, West Virginia. And I had to break rule No. 2 for this award. Hogan's interception near the end of the first half helped keep Coastal Carolina at bay, and the entire Mountaineers defense was dominant in a 31-0 win.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Brandon Bing, Rutgers. Bing blocked two punts, including one that teammate Joe Lefeged recovered for a touchdown, in the 31-0 win over Norfolk State.

Worst hangover:
The Big East office in Providence, R.I. Half the league is already 0-1, including three of the teams considered among the top contenders. National championship hopes for the conference are already dim after one weekend. Maybe someone should send John Marinatto flowers this time.

Strangest moment: This one's a tie, and both involve field goal attempts at the end of halves on Thursday night.

At Rutgers, Mohamed Sanu caught a pass near the goal line with one second left in the first half, and the Scarlet Knights were out of timeouts. They tried to hurry to the line to get one more play off, but officials ruled the half was over. Or not. The officials then decided to review whether San went out of bounds. He was not. So the half was over. Or not.

Greg Schiano argued that the clock should have stopped on the first down pickup, and Rutgers was allowed another play, in which it kicked a field goal. Norfolk State coaches, whose team was sent off the field and recalled twice, protested -- and rightly so. Hey, it was opening night for the refs, too.

[+] EnlargeBJ Daniels
AP Photo/Chris O'MearaB.J. Daniels led South Florida to 59 points in Week 1, but this week's opponent (Florida) will pose more of a threat than last week's (Stony Brook).
In the Pitt game, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham tried the old "icing-the-kicker" with a last-second timeout routine not once but twice as Dan Hutchins attempted the field goal that would send the game to overtime. Hutchins made the first and missed the second, and there was confusion on the field and in the stands both times.

He finally hit the third one -- best two out of three, anyone? I don't know about you, but that last-second timeout garbage may be my least favorite ploy in football.

Now here's a sneak peek at the second week (Games listed in descending order of importance/interest):

South Florida (1-0) at Florida (1-0) (ESPN3.com, Noon ET): The Gators' offensive struggles and USF's 59-point outburst against Stony Brook have this game looking a bit more interesting than it did a few days ago. The Bulls still have a mighty difficult assignment in going to The Swamp with so many young players.

Syracuse (1-0) at Washington (0-1)
(7 p.m. ET): The Fightin' Jake Lockers fell on the road to BYU in their opener. The Orange could gain a breakthrough with a win here, but they must travel across the country to do so.

West Virginia (1-0) at Marshall (0-1) (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET, Friday): The in-state rivalry that isn't. Marshall was handcuffed by Ohio State's defense on Saturday, and the Mountaineers will look to give them some more of that medicine. Former West Virginia assistant Doc Holliday will at least have some trade secrets on his former team.

Rutgers (1-0) at Florida International (0-0) (ESPN3.com, 8 p.m. ET): The pickin's get real slim in a hurry in Week 2. This is the only other game featuring an FBS opponent. Rutgers has to go on the road and will need to play better at the start of the game than it did versus Norfolk State.

New Hampshire (1-0) at Pitt (0-1) (ESPN3.com, 1 p.m. ET): This will be notable to see what adjustments the Panthers made after the opening loss, with Miami looming in the third game. And New Hampshire has been a solid FCS program.

Eastern Kentucky (0-1) at Louisville (0-1) (ESPN3.com, 3:30 ET): Home fans will see Charlie Strong's first victory as Louisville head coach.

Texas Southern (0-1) at Connecticut (0-1) (ESPN3.com, Noon ET): This game will be .... sorry, I dozed off there for a minute.

Indiana State (1-0) at Cincinnati (0-1) (ESPN3.com, Noon ET): Zzzzzzzzz.

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