Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Big East's top 2010 individual performances
By Brian Bennett
I'm borrowing an idea from Big 12 blogger David Ubben and taking a look at the top individual performances by a Big East player in 2010.
Ubben's list was restricted to offensive players in conference games, and only players whose team won the game were eligible. I'm going to be a lot more inclusive than that. But I will give extra weight to performances in victories and in games against league competition or other high-caliber opponents. Sorry, but no stat-stuffing feats against FCS opponents were considered.
Here, then, is my Top 10:
Isaiah Pead scored half of the Bearcats' 10 touchdowns against the Scarlet Knights.
1. Jordan Todman versus Pittsburgh: Todman -- with a heaping dose of help from his offensive line -- was simply unstoppable against Pitt's defense, running for 222 yards on 37 carries in a key win that changed the conference race. He was so good that Randy Edsall felt confident going for it on fourth-and-short from deep in his own territory late in the game, and of course Todman picked up that first down.
2. Isaiah Pead versus Rutgers: Granted, the Scarlet Knights' defense was a shell of its former self by this point. Still, Pead racked up a whopping five total touchdowns, most by a Big East player in a league game in 2010. He had 213 rushing yards and four scores on 31 rushing attempts and added a touchdown reception. Rutgers had no answer.
3. Sio Moore versus West Virginia: The Connecticut linebacker, often overshadowed by Lawrence Wilson and Scott Lutrus at his own position, was a one-man wrecking crew in the win that changed the Huskies' season. He collected 17 tackles, forced two fumbles and recovered two of them in the hard-fought upset.
4. Dion Lewis versus Cincinnati: The Bearcats had seen this show before. For the second straight year, Lewis was a load that the Cincinnati defense couldn't stop. He carried 42 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns in the snow at Nippert Stadium for what turned out to be his final regular-season college game.
5. Geno Smith versus Marshall: Down 21-6 in the fourth quarter, West Virginia looked like it would suffer its first loss to its in-state opponent. But Smith came to the rescue. He calmly led two scoring drives in the final minutes and delivered perfect strikes for the tying touchdown and two-point conversion plays attempt near the end of regulation. He finished 32-of-45 for 316 yards, and that's even more impressive when you consider it was just his second career start.
6. Bilal Powell versus Cincinnati: Our first performance on the list that came in a losing effort. It wasn't Powell's fault. The Louisville senior rushed for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and had perhaps the highlight of the season with his bruising, 85-yard scoring run. Powell also rushed for 204 yards on just 18 carries the week before, but it came against a truly terrible Memphis defense (not that Cincinnati's was all that much better).
7. Delone Carter versus Kansas State: Carter had a strong year but lacked a lot of explosive plays. That changed in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Kansas State's admittedly shaky defense. Carter crushed the Wildcats for 198 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries as the Orange held on for the postseason win.
8. Mark Harrison versus Cincinnati: There were a lot of great performances against the Cincinnati defense, but Harrison's was truly breathtaking -- and record-breaking. The Rutgers wideout had 10 catches for 240 yards and four touchdowns against the helpless Bearcats secondary.
9. Ray Graham versus Florida International: Not an elite opponent by any means, but what Graham did was still mighty impressive. Subbing for an injured Lewis, Graham nearly broke the Pitt single-game rushing record with 277 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries.
10. Joe Lefeged versus Florida International: FIU appears again as a victim here in a ridiculous performance by the Rutgers safety. He had an interception, forced two fumbles and blocked a pair of punts to almost single-handedly ensure his team's narrow victory.
Honorable mention: Zach Collaros versus South Florida and Rutgers; B.J. Daniels versus Cincinnati and Clemson; Pead versus Oklahoma; Todman versus Cincinnati; Armon Binns versus Louisville; Chas Dodd versus Connecticut; Dave Teggart versus South Florida; Doug Hogue versus West Virginia; Marcus Sales versus Kansas State.