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What we learned in the Big East, Week 15

12/7/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
1. If the season started Oct. 25, Rutgers would be the Big East champion: No one has been more dominant down the stretch than the Scarlet Knights, who finished off their season-ending, six-game winning streak with a 63-14 devastation of Louisville on Thursday night.In their final five games, they scored an average of 46 points and won by an average of 29 points. It's a shame that the Scarlet Knights will likely head to a lower-tier bowl like the PapaJohns.com game instead of getting a matchup against a top-flight team. Then again, they have nobody but themselves to blame for a 1-5 start. The whole season counts.

2. Cincinnati has the toughness of a champion: The Bearcats had every reason to lose Saturday night's game at Hawaii. They trailed 24-10 with 12 minutes left, nothing was going right and quarterback Tony Pike "didn't have all his faculties," according to coach Brian Kelly. Still, they found a way to score 19 straight points and survived yet another quarterback problem by inserting Dustin Grutza for the final minutes. No team in this league has been more resilient all year, and Cincinnati will give whoever it plays in the BCS (cough, cough, Virginia Tech) a battle.

3. Connecticut and West Virginia need to add some offensive wrinkles during bowl practice: UConn's inability to pass the ball was never more glaring than in its 34-10 loss to Pittsburgh. The Huskies had nearly as many interceptions (five) as completions (six) in 31 passing attempts. Two weeks of bowl practice aren't going to turn this offense into Texas Tech, but Connecticut needs to find something else that works along with Donald Brown's running. West Virginia, on the other hand, has scored 28 points total in its past two games. The Mountaineers have averaged 290 total yards and just 148 rushing yards in those games. You can bet that North Carolina -- WVU's opponent in the Meineke Car Care Bowl -- will do its best to duplicate the defensive schemes Pitt and South Florida used. The Mountaineers need a counter punch.

4. Louisville needs to hit the recruiting trail hard: The Cardinals were missing five defensive starters at Rutgers, and their utter lack of depth showed as they fell behind 49-0 at halftime. Louisville will lose its two best offensive linemen, most of its defensive line, its top cornerback and its starting quarterback to graduation. If Steve Kragthorpe and his staff don't add some impact players by signing day, the Rutgers game might have been a preview of what's to come next year.