Sunday, September 26, 2010
What we learned in the Big East: Week 4
By Brian Bennett
1. Bottoms up: If there were a theme song for the Big East's 2010, it would be Green Day's "Wake Me When September Ends." The league completed a brutal opening month in which it went 1-10 against BCS opponents, saw all eight teams lose at least once and, by Sunday, completely exit the polls. No Big East teams were exactly expected to win in Week 4's big slate of games -- West Virginia at LSU, Oklahoma at Cincinnati, Miami at Pitt and North Carolina at Rutgers -- but the fact that all four of them went down only contributed to the league's current dismal state.
2. Pitt has problems: While West Virginia, Rutgers and Cincinnati all had chances to win their showdowns in the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh got waxed 31-3 at home by Miami on Thursday. The team most everybody thought would be the Big East's best now looks in real danger of becoming a 7-5 type team or worse. There are serious issues on the offensive line and at linebacker, and questions linger about Dion Lewis's slow start and Tino Sunseri's ability to win a big game. Couple that with the Panthers' off-the-field problems, and it's been a very disappointing 2010 so far in the Steel City.
Cody Endres' two touchdown passes helped spark the UConn offense on Saturday.
3. Cincinnati is coming along: The Bearcats were very respectable in their 31-29 loss to Oklahoma, a game they could have won with fewer mistakes. It was easily their best performance of the year, and the offense finally looked like the high-powered attack it promised to be. Cincinnati was saddled with a tough early schedule and had to adjust to new coach Butch Jones' style. If the team can play as well as it did against the Sooners on Saturday, a third straight Big East championship is not out of the question.
4. UConn has a new leader: Connecticut turned to backup quarterback Cody Endres at halftime against Buffalo, as ineffective starter Zach Frazer had led them to only a 14-14 tie with the Bulls. Endres gave the team a spark almost immediately, and the Huskies went on to a 45-21 rout. Endres may not have as strong an arm as Frazer, but he seems to make better decisions and deliver a more accurate throw. That's what UConn really needs with its stout running game. Endres will assume the starting role, but the Huskies may need Frazer again before the season is done.
5. South Florida is very much a work in progress: The Bulls beat Western Kentucky just 24-12 at home mostly because the offense was kept under wraps. With no experienced receivers, Skip Holtz chose to throw the ball just 11 times while running it 44 times. It was enough to beat a team that's never won since moving up to the FBS. You get the sense Holtz is just trying to get by until receivers Dontavia Bogan, A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin return from injury, when South Florida can open up the offense and take its shots in a wide-open Big East race.