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Monday, September 27, 2010
Big East power rankings, Week 5

By Brian Bennett

In three years of doing these rankings, I've never been more dumbfounded as to where to rank the teams after the top spot. Over at my Twitter feed on Sunday, I asked fans for suggestions for the No. 2 team in these rankings.

I got votes for Cincinnati, Syracuse, UConn and even Louisville. A sampling of some of the other responses:

@CountryRoadsWV: Temple?

@agbecker: Villanova

@wjnelson11 Georgetown -- best backcourt in the country

@ultimatemale66: Rank everyone #2.

So, yeah. It's not easy. I had to take an innovative approach this week. Here goes:

1. West Virginia (3-1): Let's face it: No Big East team was going to go down to Death Valley and win. The Mountaineers probably had the best chance, and they might have pulled it off with better execution in the kicking game. I still believe this is the best team in the conference, though Noel Devine needs to stay healthy.

2. Vacant (0-0): The NCAA has vacated this spot until somebody steps up. At least Vacant U. is unbeaten.

T-3. Cincinnati (1-3): So it's come to this. Tied for the No. 3 spot in the rankings is a 1-3 team that has yet to beat an FBS opponent. Sigh. At least Cincinnati looked really good against Oklahoma. It might have just been one game and one inspired performance in an unusual atmosphere. But it's something.

T-3. Syracuse (3-1): Well, why not? The Orange are tied for the best record in the league right now, even if their three victims -- Akron, Maine and Colgate -- are all hapless punching bags.

T-5. Connecticut (2-2): The Cody Endres move has filled the Huskies with a lot of optimism. Still, it was just one half against Buffalo, at home. I need to see a strong performance this week against Vanderbilt before I'm convinced this team is actually starting to live up to its potential.

T-5. Rutgers (2-1): It's pretty hard to win if you can't score. The Scarlet Knights might have the best combination of defense and special teams play in the league. But that offense -- which I'm taking to calling Rutgers Mortis -- just can't score.

T-5. South Florida (2-1): Skip Holtz used more vanilla than Ben & Jerry against Western Kentucky, electing to pass the ball only 11 times. He could do that against a bad team and still register an unimpressive 12-point win. This is the hardest team in the conference to get a read on right now.

7. Pittsburgh (1-2): I don't really believe Pitt is the second-worst team in the conference. But after Thursday's putrid 31-3 loss to Miami, and the ridiculous lack of discipline the team has shown lately, the Panthers deserve this banishment for at least a week.

8. Louisville (1-2): I'm probably being too hard on the Cardinals in these wacky rankings. I thought all offseason that Louisville would have a difficult time winning more than one conference game. Now I don't think I'd be surprised if they won four or five.