NCF Nation: Review/preview 2009

Saw things so much clearer, once you were in my rearview mirror.

Let's look back on Week 13 in the Big East:

Team of the week:
West Virginia. The Mountaineers snapped a two-game losing streak in the Backyard Brawl, put themselves in position to possibly finish second in the Big East and climbed back into the Top 25 in the process. All in all, not a bad Black Friday in Morgantown.

Best game: It was the Backyard Bore for most of the first three quarters as neither offense could find a rhythm. But then Pitt stormed back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and West Virginia drove for the game-winning field goal as time expired for the 19-16 win. In a week without many other great league games and in an emotional rivalry, this easily gets the nod.

Biggest play: Noel Devine's 88-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on West Virginia's first play of the drive. Devine went in virtually untouched to give the Mountaineers a lead they would never lose.

Best call: Greg Schiano's decision to go heavy with the Wildcat formation and Mohamed Sanu against Louisville. The Cardinals had no chance of stopping it, as Sanu rumbled for 148 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries.

Big Man on Campus (Offense): Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike wasn't as good as he had been before his left forearm injury. He was better, throwing for 399 yards and a school-record six touchdowns against Illinois.

Big Man on Campus (Defense): UConn's Lawrence Wilson is the Big East's leading tackler, and he added to that with 17 stops and a sack in the Huskies' 56-31 win over Syracuse.

Big Man on Campus (Special teams): West Virginia's Tyler Bitancurt made all four of his field goal attempts, including the 43-yard game-winner against Pitt.

Worst hangover: South Florida. The Bulls had looked forward to getting Miami on their home turf to show how far their program had come. Instead, they found out how far they still have to go, as the Hurricanes dominated them in virtually every aspect of the game. South Florida could be looking at a 7-5 year after a 5-0 start unless it can win on the road at UConn this week.

Strangest moment: It may not have been terribly strange, but it was ... interesting.

UConn led 42-31 and was facing a fourth-and-10 from the Syracuse 28 when the Huskies dialed up a pass play, which turned into a touchdown from Zach Frazer to Marcus Easley with 47 seconds left in the game. Doug Marrone looked bemused, to say the least, on the sidelines.

It's hard to blame UConn's Randy Edsall for that decision, though, given how many heartbreaking losses his team has suffered this year. It's the defense's job to stop it, and indeed if Syracuse defends that pass, it gets the ball back with a chance to score and try for the onsides kick. Unlikely, yes, but the Orange had moved the ball well, and strange things have happened to UConn all year.

Anyway, the Huskies ended up scoring again on a fumble recovery. Following the game, Edsall appeared to ask Marrone something after the two exchanged a very brief handshake. Orange cornerback Phillip Thomas told the Syracuse Post-Standard that UConn's pass was "a little cheap shot" while other players said it was "classless."

Good, I say. This league can use all the heated rivalries it can get.

Now let's look forward to the final week of the Big East regular season (Games listed in descending order of interest and importance):

No. 5 Cincinnati (11-0, 6-0 Big East) at No. 15 Pittsburgh (9-2, 5-1): This one, of course, is for the biggest prize of them all: the River City Rivalry trophy. What? You mean there's more at stake? (Noon, ABC).

No. 23 West Virginia (8-3, 4-2) at Rutgers (8-3, 3-3): West Virginia's dominance over Rutgers is the longest current winning streak by one Big East team over another. The Scarlet Knights' last win in the series came in 1994. (Noon, ESPN)

South Florida (7-4, 3-3) at Connecticut (6-5, 2-4): Weather could play in UConn's favor, as is the fact that the Huskies have been playing a lot better and more consistently than the Bulls in the last month. (8 p.m., ESPN2)

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