Sunday, November 22, 2009
What we learned in the Big East, Week 12
By Brian Bennett
1. The Gator Bowl is back in play: Connecticut's 33-30 double-overtime win at Notre Dame dropped the Irish down to 6-5. With a tough game remaining at Stanford, the Golden Domers may well finish 6-6 and be ineligible for the Gator Bowl slot. Even with a win, Notre Dame would be 7-5 with a lame duck coach, not exactly a great bowl draw. Putting the Gator back in the Big East ledger helps the entire league lineup, and ensures that the Cincinnati-Pitt loser won't end up falling all the way to the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
2. UConn is going bowling: The resilient Huskies improved to 5-5 and have a pair of home games remaining against Syracuse and South Florida. They'll get at least one of those, and even at 6-6 they'll be an attractive bowl team because of what they've overcome this season.
3. Syracuse is determined to make Rutgers a rivalry: If you didn't think the Orange consider beating Rutgers for New York/New Jersey area supremacy one of their top priorities, you should be convinced after Saturday's 31-13 surprise. Head coach Doug Marrone brought out some new wrinkles, including option pitches and quick swing passes, and the depleted Orange put together a fierce effort. The Scarlet Knights may have not concerned themselves too much with Syracuse before the game, judging by their effort. They should now.
4. Rutgers is not a ranked team: Not even close. The Scarlet Knights sneaked into the Associated Press Top 25 last week, as voters apparently didn't notice that five of their seven wins came against complete stiffs. Rutgers is too weak on offense, and its offensive line far too inconsistent, to be a Top 25 team. The Scarlet Knights could still win eight or nine games this year, but this club is nothing special.
5. B.J. Daniels is tough at home: The South Florida redshirt freshman quarterback had some rough games at Rutgers and at Pitt, but he has been solid at Raymond James Stadium. He became the first Big East player to throw for more than 300 yards and run for more than 100 yards in a 34-22 win over Louisville. Daniels still could use some more playmakers around him, especially in the running game. But if he continues to play like that at home, the Bulls will have a chance this week against Miami.