Monday, September 3, 2012
Big East weekend rewind: Week 1
By Matt Fortuna
Here's one last look back at the weekend that was for the Big East.
The good: The Big East went 5-2 in its opening weekend. UConn kicked things off by pitching a shutout Thursday, Temple rolled through its Big East debut Friday, USF's and Rutgers' defenses keyed Saturday wins and Louisville looked like the conference favorite it is Sunday.
Ryan Nassib threw for 470 yards in a losing effort against Northwestern.
The bad: Syracuse couldn't help a history-making performance effort from Ryan Nassib, giving up a game-winning touchdown drive to Northwestern in a 42-41 home loss. The Orange struggled in the secondary and on special teams, ruining Nassib's nearly 500-yard day. Things don't get easier for them with this schedule, so Syracuse will need to close whenever it gets the chance.
The extra helmet sticker: Louisville didn't play until Sunday afternoon, but it may have gotten the best individual performance of any conference player this weekend, as quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed 19 of 21 passes for 232 yards in a 32-14 rout of rival Kentucky in which he was only needed for three quarters.
Turning point: In what ended up being a runaway, Louisville made a statement early. Facing third-and-9 from his own 2, Bridgewater connected with Damian Copeland on a beautiful 23-yard toss near the Kentucky sideline. It was the first big play of many on what ended up being a tone-setting 99-yard drive for Bridgewater and the Cardinals, who took care of business in Week 1.
The newcomers: Steve Addazio and his Owls retained the Mayor's Cup and returned to the Big East with a Week 1 win. Kyle Flood's team used a familiar Rutgers blueprint -- strong rushing, strong defense -- to methodically win a grinder at Tulane. And Paul Chryst suspended six Pitt players before his debut against YSU, one that did not exactly go according to plan.
Up next: Cincinnati finally kicks its season off Thursday, hosting a Pitt team needing to rebound fast. UConn, Temple and Syracuse face BCS schools NC State, Maryland and USC, respectively, while USF travels to Nevada, which upset Cal. Louisville hosts Missouri State and Rutgers hosts Howard.