What we learned in the Big East

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
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What did we learn in the Big East in Week 2? So glad you asked.

1. It was not a great weekend for the Big East. Of the four games Saturday against FBS opponents, only USF won, and the Bulls needed a frenetic comeback to make it happen. Temple was incredibly sloppy in a loss to Maryland; UConn had zero offense in a loss to NC State; Syracuse gave it the ol' college try against No. 2 USC, and while the effort was valiant, the result was still a loss. I see the two ACC games in particular as lost opportunities. Temple could not beat the youngest (and probably worst) team in the ACC -- a team it beat 38-7 a year ago. And UConn had more than one opportunity to beat an unimpressive NC State outfit. But it didn't, and now the Big East is 0-2 against its closest rival conference.

[+] EnlargeUSF's B.J. Daniels
AP Photo/Cathleen AllisonUSF's B.J. Daniels passed for 363 yards in the Big East's only win Saturday over a FBS opponent.
2. Hello, offense? This one is aimed at you, Rutgers and UConn. The expectation was for both offenses to be better this season. UConn has an actual scholarship quarterback behind center in Chandler Whitmer; and Rutgers settled on one guy in Gary Nova, with plenty of talent at receiver. So far, both teams have struggled mightily on offense. Nova threw for 158 yards in Week 1, and 130 yards against Howard in Week 2. As for Whitmer, he had a disastrous day against NC State, throwing three interceptions. The bigger problem for UConn may be the lack of a run game. UConn had 35 yards rushing Saturday, and its offensive line is struggling big-time.

3. Syracuse is the best 0-2 team in the nation. I give the Orange major credit for taking USC to the limit in a 42-29 loss. When the fourth quarter began, Syracuse trailed 21-16 and Twitter was abuzz with the way the Orange had completely taken USC out of its game. But early in the fourth quarter, Robert Woods returned a punt 31 yards to the Syracuse 22 and Matt Barkley threw a touchdown pass three plays later. USC scored on its very next drive, after Woods had 76 yards on an end-around, and all of a sudden the game was out of reach. Still, Syracuse played the Trojans to the limit a week after dropping a heartbreaking 42-41 loss to Northwestern.

"We had a good opportunity," coach Doug Marrone said afterward. "There were some opportunities out there that if we could just make one play here or there and it could really change it. We were in it. We felt we were in this football game. It hurts, but in the same sense, we have a long season, a long schedule. We are excited about the direction that we are headed."

4. Comeback kids. We learned USF knows how to win a close game. After dropping five contests last season by six points or fewer -- including four in the closing seconds -- the Bulls pulled off an incredible comeback to beat Nevada, erasing an 11-point deficit in the final 2:37 of the game. It was the largest comeback in school history. USF looked totally flat early in this game and trailed 21-6, but the Bulls dug deep and found a way to win. Perhaps winning a game like this changes the momentum for the Bulls, with their all-important league opener against Rutgers set for Thursday.

5. Don't sleep on Cincinnati. What's that you say, Bearcats fans? You have been screaming this to me, sending me hate mail on this very topic since ... I took over the blog last year? I hear you, I hear you. Cincinnati looked impressive in a 34-10 win over Pitt. The defense, which lost so many key players, ended with 11 tackles for loss, six sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. Munchie Legaux showed the wheels we knew he had, and Ralph David Abernathy IV was as good as many thought he would be. The passing game still needs some help, but for an opening game, you couldn't ask for much more out of this team.

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