Monday, November 8, 2010
Week 10 review/Week 11 preview
By Brian Bennett
A look back at the week that was in the Big East, which offered a pretty small sample size:
Team of the week: Louisville. The Cardinals stopped an 11-game losing streak in conference road games and stopped Syracuse's momentum with a 28-20 victory in the Carrier Dome. That puts them one win away from making their first bowl game since the 2006 season.
B.J. Daniels and South Florida pulled out a crucial win against Rutgers.
Game of the week: Only two games in Week 10, and both were close. I'll choose South Florida's 28-27 win against Rutgers for the razor-thin margin. I expect a lot more close games the rest of the way in this very balanced league.
Biggest play: Keith McCaskill's tackle of Rutgers' Kordell Young on a screen pass in the end zone for a South Florida safety late in the third quarter. The Bulls made two great defensive plays before that to back the Scarlet Knights into deep trouble, then McCaskill made a perfect read for a score that turned out to be crucial.
Best call: I loved seeing Charlie Strong go for it on 4th-and-1 from his own 39 late in the Syracuse win. He knew Louisville's offensive line had dominated all day and was good enough to pick up the first down, which it did on a Justin Burke sneak. That also forced the Orange to burn their last timeout and helped salt away the game. On the road in that spot, Strong showed great confidence in his players, and they delivered.
Big Man on Campus (Offense):Jeremy Wright, RB, Louisville. With Bilal Powell out of action, the redshirt freshman Wright picked up the slack with 19 carries for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): Jacquain Williams, LB, South Florida. The senior had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks in the Bulls' win. His sack of Chas Dodd on fourth down from the USF 41 effectively ended the game.
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Rutgers' Mason Robinson returned a punt 60-yards for a touchdown Wednesday night. Speaking of which ...
Strangest moment: How about that punt return? Robinson was surrounded by six Bulls' defenders when he caught the ball, but all of them apparently thought he would signal for a fair catch given the circumstances. But Robinson boldly fielded it and then ran in untouched for the score. Skip Holtz called it "the craziest punt return I've ever seen in all my days of coaching."
Worst hangover: Syracuse. For the second time, the Orange disappointed a home crowd eager to embrace them. More distressingly, they failed to clinch bowl eligibility. They still have three chances to do so, but each missed opportunity will only increase the pressure on the team to get the postseason monkey off its back.
Now let's take a look ahead to Week 11, when all eight teams are back in action (Games are listed in descending order of interest/importance):
Pittsburgh (5-3, 3-0 Big East) at Connecticut (4-4, 1-2): The league-leading Panthers try to keep their two-game cushion against a Huskies team that has yet to lose this year at Rentschler Field. (ESPN, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET)
South Florida (5-3, 2-2) at Louisville (5-4, 2-2): Two teams on the rise under first-year coaches. The Bulls have never won in Louisville. (ESPNU, Noon, ET)
Cincinnati (3-5, 1-2) at West Virginia (5-3, 1-2): The Bearcats have won two straight in this series, and West Virginia wants revenge, though the Mountaineers should be more concerned with themselves at this point (ESPN3.com, Noon ET)
Syracuse (6-3, 3-2) at Rutgers (4-4, 1-2): The Orange turnaround began with a blowout win against Rutgers last year. Don't think the Scarlet Knights have forgotten that one. (ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. ET)