Monday, September 17, 2012
Big East weekend rewind: Week 3
By Matt Fortuna
One final look at the week that was in the Big East:
The good: The Big East went 6-1 this week, with the only loss, of course, coming to a fellow conference squad. Not every win was pretty, but the Big East did enough to pull out every nonconference win, including a perfect 3-0 slate against the ACC, one week after dropping a pair of contests to ACC teams and three days after non-football member Notre Dame defected for the ACC.
The bad: Louisville pulled out a win over North Carolina and that's what matters most, but the Cardinals' second half was very troubling, as they watched a 36-7 halftime lead turn into a 39-34 final, decided on a fourth-down pass break-up in the end zone. Syracuse and Cincinnati looked less than stellar against FCS opponents, with the Orange trailing Stony Brook at halftime and the Bearcats turning the ball over six times against Delaware State.
The ugly: South Florida is now 0-9 in Thursday night games since joining the Big East. Five days after pulling off a dramatic, come-from-behind win at Nevada, the Bulls laid an egg against Rutgers, giving the ball away four times in a 10-point home loss that looked all too familiar to folks who followed this team a year ago.
Paul Chryst, right, got his first win as a head coach in style after the Panthers soundly beat No. 13 Virginia Tech.
Team of the week: We've given Pitt a lot of grief here through the first two weeks, and rightfully so. But you cannot say enough about the performance the Panthers delivered Saturday against Virginia Tech, just dominating the Hokies from start to finish and getting Paul Chryst his first career win as a head coach.
The clutch: It should have never come down to this, but Louisville cornerback Andrew Johnson made a terrific play on Bryn Renner's final throw of the game, ensuring that Erik Highsmith could not come down with what would have been a game-winning catch and, more importantly, preventing a devastating blow to a Cardinals team that was on a roll two quarters earlier.
Best half: For as much heat as Louisville is taking for letting up against UNC, we cannot overlook what a dominating first-half performance the Cardinals delivered. Teddy Bridgewater showed no signs of slowing down, tossing three first-half touchdowns as the Twitter conversation late-afternoon Saturday turned to, yes, what to do about a potentially undefeated Louisville. The team still has a long way to go, but so far it is tough to see anyone in the Big East beating the Cardinals when they're at their best.
The surprise: We'd been saying that Syracuse was the best 0-2 team in the nation after losing to a Northwestern team that looks better than advertised and a USC team that, well, doesn't. But the Orange struggled against Stony Brook, trailing by three at halftime and going 0-for-2 on fourth-and-goal plays. (Ryan Nassib, meanwhile, continued to impress in his first win of the season.)