- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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The ever-living ghost of what once was ...
Team of the week: (Tie) Syracuse and Rutgers. The Orange beat South Florida for the first time ever and did it on the road, no less, to move into a tie for first place ridiculously early into Big East play. And the Scarlet Knights, after receiving much criticism (including from this corner) for their performances against Tulane and North Carolina, rebounded to win their conference opener against Connecticut.
Best game: The UConn-Rutgers game was close, as it almost always is, and it came down to a San San Te field goal with 13 seconds left as the Scarlet Knights escaped 27-24.
Biggest play and best call: Rutgers quarterback Chas Dodd's 52-yard touchdown pass to Mark Harrison with a little over four minutes left tied the score at 24. Dodd faked a swing pass to Jordan Thomas and found Harrison all alone down the sideline.
Best drive: Syracuse went 98 yards in the fourth quarter to score the game's lone offensive touchdown in its 13-9 win over South Florida. The drive included only two plays of longer than 8 yards as the Orange methodically matriculated the ball downfield.
Big Man on Campus (Offense): Dodd. Several players posted huge statistics this week in blowouts, but no one energized an entire fan base that so needed something positive like the true freshman quarterback. He had 322 yards passing and two touchdowns in his first start and may have Wally Pipp-ed Tom Savage.
Big Man on Campus (Defense): Craig Marshall, DE, South Florida. It came in a losing cause, but Marshall was huge for the Bulls. He had eight tackles and tied a school record with three sacks.
Big Man on Campus (Special teams): Nick Williams, KR, Connecticut. His also came in a losing effort, but Williams delivered a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Huskies.
Strangest moment: Pitt's late-game strategy against Notre Dame. The Panthers took over at their own 10 with 4:45 left, trailing by six. They proceeded to call two straight running plays to Dion Lewis, followed by a short pass to Jon Baldwin that was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Then, facing a fourth-and-5, Pitt called one of its three timeouts -- in order to set up a punt. It is sequences like that which cause people to question Dave Wannstedt's coaching acumen and conservative philosophy.
Biggest hangover: Connecticut. South Florida lost at home, which is bad. But no one really expected the Bulls to win the Big East this season. The Huskies were considered a contender, and they came into the Rutgers game with all the momentum on their side. Instead, they turned in a lackluster second half and failed yet again to beat the Scarlet Knights. Now at 3-3, the hopes for a breakthrough season have all but evaporated.
Now let's look at Week 7, which offers a short, but mostly meaningful slate (Games listed in descending order of interest/importance):
Pittsburgh (2-3) at Syracuse (4-1, 1-0 Big East): Are the Orange for real? Can they really get to 2-0 in league play? And how will Pitt respond entering conference action? Lots of intriguing angles here. (ESPN3.com, Saturday, Noon ET)
South Florida (3-2, 0-1) at West Virginia (4-1): The Mountaineers begin Big East play against a team that has been their nemesis in recent years. It could be payback time. (ESPN, Thursday, 7:30 ET)
Cincinnati (2-3) at Louisville (3-2): The Cardinals are looking pretty feisty right about now, and this could be a real tug-of-war for the Keg of Nails. (ESPN, Friday, 8 ET)
Army (4-2) at Rutgers (3-2, 1-0): Army looks much improved and just waxed the same Tulane team that won in Piscataway two weeks ago. (Saturday, 2 ET)