Another week, another mailbag. Yippee!
Let's start with some of your BCS questions. Go!
Michael Resendez in Louisville writes: Two scenarios: If Louisville can go unbeaten through the rest of the season, where do you see them playing. If they lose to Rutgers, where then?
Andrea Adelson: At this point, I do not think an unbeaten Big East team can make it into the BCS national championship game. I just want to put that out there before I answer your question. If Louisville goes undefeated, I see the Orange Bowl as the likeliest destination. If they lose to Rutgers and do not finish as the Big East BCS rep, then the most likely spot would be the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla. But there are plenty of other games to be playing, including Cincinnati. Louisville cannot overlook its biggest rival!
Adam J in Silver Spring, Md., writes: Andrea, I have a slightly different BCS question. If any of the three Big East teams goes undefeated, what are the chances they get asked to a BCS game that is not the Orange Bowl? Would a 12-0 Rutgers team that won in Arkansas get asked to the Sugar or Fiesta Bowls, or are they going to get bypassed in favor of everyone else?
Adelson: The Big East champion will get into a BCS bowl no matter what. It remains to be seen which game will select the Big East champion. As you guys know, the Big East does not have a tie-in to one specific game. The Big East is an "at-large" selection. Once those guaranteed tie-ins are filled in for the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, the selection order for this year is as follows: Fiesta, Sugar, Orange.
Cameron in New York City writes: Hey Andrea, Great job so far. The continuing of an undefeated season for Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Louisville is key for the success of the Big East, but for multiple teams to finish undefeated is impossible. Which scenario do you think benefits the Big East more: All three teams trading losses in a circle and all finishing very close to each other in the BCS standings making it a tough choice for who to go to the Orange Bowl or one team finishing the season undefeated coming out as a clear winner of the conference and finishing with a pretty high BCS ranking?
Adelson: Definitely one undefeated team and two others with double digit wins. It is very rare for any team to run the table, so for anyone in the Big East to be able to do so would speak volumes about that program and I think also give major props to the league itself.
Wallace on The Island writes: Just watched your video on the Bearcats' slow starts, do you believe they are playing down to their opponent when they start off sluggish or is this something much bigger? They didn't seem to start off slow against Pitt but that was week 1. I'd like to hear your take on the reason behind their slow starts?
Adelson: I think there are a few factors. 1. I do believe it is the level of competition. It is much easier to get geared up for a nationally televised midweek game against a Big East opponent than Fordham. Miami (Ohio) has played Cincinnati tough the last two years so I was not as surprised about that. I was more surprised the trend continued last week. 2. Cincinnati has a lot of young players on its team, so coach Butch Jones has to keep impressing on them you cannot just roll your helmets out and win. There is a lot of hard work and preparation that goes into beating a team, and maybe he has not gotten as much of that yet because he is not dealing with the same senior-laden bunch he had last season.
John in Cape Coral, Fla., writes: Andrea, you note in your midseason report that USF is last in the Big East in rushing defense. What isn't included is the fact that USF held Rutgers close to their average (147 in the game, 137.5 average) and that was on 42 carries with one carry going 41 yards (I feel like that run and the one in the Temple game were given up to allow for USF to get the ball back due to the fact that in both cases they had just turned the ball over and were given the option to either let them score or run out the clock). Along with this they held the sixth-ranked Nevada rushing offense, 15th-ranked Florida State rushing offense, and 38th ranked Ball State rushing offense to under their season average. The only game that was really bad was the Temple game (long run at the end of the game padded the stats in that one as well). Has anyone in the Big East faced rushing offenses like USF? I really feel like the third and long D is the real problem.
Adelson: John, I see your points, and it is worth taking into account the type of opponent USF has played. But UConn and Syracuse held Rutgers to well below its average. It is still worth pointing out that USF is giving up 3.9 yards per carry, which is second-worst in the Big East and a league-high 12 rushing touchdowns. Jawan Jamison, by the way, had his season high 151 yards rushing against the Bulls. Playing Nevada does not help the overall stat sheet, but when can you recall the defense making critical stops on rushing downs that helped swing momentum?
Scott Arnold in Pompton Plains, N.J., writes: Andrea, You've got to reconsider your Big East defensive star of the year selection at the season's halfway point. Khaseem Greene single-handedly beat Syracuse last weekend and he is on every major "watch" list for defensive players. The Rutgers linebacker is putting together a monster season, and is quickly becoming a top draft prospect. C'mon Andrea, show us New Jersey Rutgers fans some love! Greene is Ray Lewis in a Scarlet Knight uniform! Vote Khaseem!
Adelson: There is no doubt Greene is a terrific player. But I think a lot of people have Greene at the top of their mind because of his performance against Syracuse. Yawin Smallwood had a near identical game against Maryland a few weeks ago, a game UConn probably does not win if Smallwood fails to come up big. He also has been honored as Big East Defensive Player of the week twice, and has more tackles for loss. None of this takes away how impressed I am with Greene. But I think folks should recognize Smallwood has been just as terrific in the first half of the year.