- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Take that and rewind it back ...
Team of the week: Connecticut. Well, we can't give this award to Syracuse every week. Congrats go to the Huskies, who looked dead in the water a week earlier before rallying to beat West Virginia for the first time ever on Friday night.
Game of the week: UConn's 16-13 victory at least had the drama of overtime, though it was by no means a thing of beauty. None of the weekend's three games will be remembered as instant classics (unless you're a fan of the winning team, perhaps).
Biggest play: Can't pick just one, so I'll go with a three-way tie.
Ryan Clarke's fumble near the goal line on West Virginia's overtime possession cost the Mountaineers a shot at victory and could make the rest of Bill Stewart's fall very uncomfortable.
Syracuse linebacker Derrell Smith's interception at the goal line prevented Cincinnati to cutting the score to 17-14 early in the second half, and he returned it 60 yards to boot.
And finally, Pittsburgh defensive end Jabaal Sheard slammed into Louisville quarterback Adam Froman and jarred the ball loose, resulting in Myles Caragein's rumble the other way to the Cardinals' 5. Pitt would then score to go up 20-3 and basically salt the game away.
Best call: Doug Marrone decided to go for it on 4th and 3 from the Cincinnati 36 on the first play of the second quarter. Syracuse completed a 19-yard pass and went on to score the game's first touchdown. Marrone said he planned on going for the long field goal until the first quarter ended and the wind that was at the Orange backs suddenly was in their face. Even time is on the Orange's side right now.
Big Man on Campus (Offense): Delone Carter, RB, Syracuse. This was a weird weekend where there were no real standout offensive performances. Carter wins almost by default for his 19-carry, 109-yard effort.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore had 17 tackles, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in the Huskies' win. His play to strip the ball out of Noel Devine's hands in the second quarter was especially impressive.
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): UConn kicker Dave Teggart was 3-for-3 on field goals, including the 27-yard game-winner in overtime.
Worst hangover: West Virginia. For the second straight week. After a week of criticism over their offense, the Mountaineers responded with just one touchdown against a Huskies defense that had been giving up big plays all season.
Strangest moment: A two-way tie between two off-the-field occurrences.
The first was UConn fans rushing the field after their team beat West Virginia in overtime. I get it that the Huskies had never beaten the Mountaineers and it was an exciting finish, but rushing the field after beating an unranked, 5-3 team still qualifies as odd.
And then there was the surreal site Saturday of Cincinnati fans leaving en masse and booing the home team as Syracuse thrashed the two-time defending Big East champs. Last time the two played at Nippert Stadium, the Orange were in their last game under a lame-duck coach while Cincinnati was on its way to the Orange Bowl. The irony was not lost on Syracuse players.
"We were talking about that on the sidelines," Derrell Smith said.
Want a strong argument for Big East expansion? Just check out this week's schedule, which features only one weekend game (Games listed in descending order of interest/importance):
Louisville (4-4, 1-2 Big East) at Syracuse (6-2, 3-1): A Louisville-Syracuse matchup that has meaning? You betcha. The Orange can clinch bowl eligibility, while the Cardinals need to find a couple of victories still to get there. Basement Bowl no more. (ESPN3.com, Noon ET)
Rutgers (4-3, 1-1) at South Florida (4-3, 1-2): On Wednesday, it's business time for the Scarlet Knights and Bulls as both battle to move up in the league pecking order. (ESPN2, Wednesday, 7 ET).
Byes: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Connecticut.