Sunday, October 17, 2010
What we learned in the Big East: Week 7
By Brian Bennett
1. Defense keys West Virginia: The Mountaineers' offense gets a lot of attention because of all of its swift playmakers. Make no mistake, though: this West Virginia team starts with its defense. The veteran group shut down South Florida on Thursday night, allowing just 202 yards to an admittedly offensively-challenged team. West Virginia leads the Big East in fewest points and yards given up, and that defense could lead this team to a Big East title.
Zach Collaros passed for 275 yards and five touchdowns against Louisville.
2. Cincinnati's offense is back: The Bearcats couldn't move the chains or reach the end zone much in the first few weeks as their offensive line continually got blown up. Things have turned around, and in the past three games Cincinnati has scored 109 points. It's not quite the juggernaut of 2009, but Zach Collaros threw five touchdown passes at Louisville and Isaiah Pead is averaging nearly nine yards per carry. That offense means the Bearcats are still dangerous in the Big East race.
3. Don't count out Pitt: After a 2-3 start and all kinds of issues on and off the field, it was easy to dismiss Pittsburgh's chances in the Big East. But the preseason favorites reasserted themselves in a 45-14 dismantling of Syracuse on the road. If Tino Sunseri can manage the passing game the way he did Saturday, and the defense and running game remain at that level, then the Panthers have just as good a chance as anyone to win the league title.
4. Chas Dodd is a winner: Rutgers trailed Army 17-3 at the end of three quarters, and true freshman quarterback Chas Dodd was sacked a whopping nine times. But Dodd continues to work his magic in place of Tom Savage. He threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes and helped the Scarlet Knights win in overtime. Dodd is 16-of-22 for 285 yards and 3 TDs in the fourth quarter and overtime of the past two games, both Rutgers wins. That's clutch, and it's incredibly impressive for someone so inexperienced.
5. Not yet, Louisville and Syracuse: Fans at Louisville and Syracuse were understandably excited when their teams started 3-2 and 4-1, respectively. Each began conference play with one of the preseason favorites at home. They gave up a combined 80 points in a pair of losses. Both the Cardinals and the Orange are more competitive than they've been in recent years, and each could still challenge for a bowl. But thoughts that either could finish in the upper half of the Big East now look a bit premature.