Tag:Rutgers
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:50 pm
 

Big East could lose spot in Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's some news that the Big East will love to hear.  On the same day that the conference will make the announcement that TCU will be joining it in 2012, it sounds like one of the teams currently in the conference could miss out on a chance to go to the Champs Sports Bowl this season.  The bowl game has the option of replacing it's normal Big East tie-in every four years with Notre Dame, and it sounds like that may be the case this season.

Talking with the Chicago Tribune, Champs Sports Bowl CEO Steve Hogan says that the game will give strong consideration to Notre Dame following the Irish's victory over USC on Saturday night in southern California.

"I guess the way to say it is that they're a very attractive, strong candidate amongst maybe a short list of maybe one or two other teams that we're looking at, that have to really play out this coming Saturday," Hogan told the Tribune.

"They played their way back into it. Their whole body of work is pretty impressive, when you look at some of the losses and the closing wins. That's a team that certainly seems to be on the way up and that 7-5 is stronger than maybe it looks at first. They're right there in the middle of it, and we got maybe one or two other teams that can play their way into that argument Saturday. And then we'll debate it, knock it out and make a pick."

The one Big East team that the bowl is likely to consider over Notre Dame?  That would be West Virginia.  If the Mountaineers win this weekend against Rutgers, there's a chance they'd finish the year 9-3, ranked, yet out of the BCS picture should UConn beat South Florida and win the Big East.  If the Champs Sports Bowl wants to go with quality of team, it'd be hard to say that a 7-5 unranked Notre Dame team is better than a ranked 9-3 West Virginia team.

Of course, raise your hands if you think that bowl games actually care about that as much as they do filing seats and making money.

Exactly.  Something tells me the idea of having Notre Dame fans flocking to Orlando and filling the stadium will look a lot more appealing than West Virginia's ranking when all is said and done.  Whatever the case, we should know next Sunday.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 2:59 pm
Edited on: November 12, 2010 2:59 pm
 

Fun with charts: The Big East title hunt

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Connecticut's upset of the first-place Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday night, a seemingly closed Big East title race has been officially re-opened. The Panthers could have put significant space between them and the rest of the conference, with a 1.5 game lead over second-place Syracuse AND owning the tie-breaker against the Orange. The Orange could have pulled away from the rest of the pack last week, but instead fell short 28-20 to Louisville.

 So now the entire Big East is within two games of first place with each team having at least two conference games left on the schedule, with some having as many as four. Such a tight race in a conference like the Big East would not seem like a big deal on the national scale, but when there is a BCS bowl berth at stake everything chances.  Let's take a look at the weeks ahead in the Big East.


(click here to enlarge image)

Now a few thoughts...

1. Pittsburgh still the team to beat - Despite the upset to Connecticut, Pittsburgh will be the only team in the conference with one loss at the conclusion of Week 11.  The number of two-loss teams will be cut down to four by Sunday, thus pushing three teams basically out of the race entirely.  Also, the teams with the easiest remaining schedule (according to the combined conference record of opponents) are all teams that Pittsburgh has defeated.  The most crucial of which is second-place Syracuse.  Win out, and the BCS Bowl berth will belong to the Panthers.  But nothing is certain, particularly with trips to Tampa and Cincinnati left on the schedule.  Don't forget about those Mountaineers...

2. Three (1-2) teams the most dangerous - With four conference games left on the schedule, even the teams at the bottom of standings have a chance to create the most havoc.  Pittsburgh has yet to play West Virginia and at Cincinnati, two teams that have not lived up to the standards of recent years but are still very dangerous.  Rutgers also hosts Syracuse on Saturday, and could continue to muddle the standings with an upset of the Orange.  They may have the toughest battle to win the conference, but they have the best chance to spoil the fun for the favorites.  Pittsburgh needs at least a game of separation heading into the finale at Cincinnati, because that game is anyone's to win - no matter what the records say.

3.  Looking for a dark horse?  Try Louisville - The Cardinals are fresh off an impressive upset of Syracuse, and they have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the conference.  Also with wins over Connecticut and the Orange, they have positioned themselves well in the event of the likely possible tie-breaker.  Last week the Cardinals showed that the success of the rushing game is not dependent on Bilal Powell, and being able to dictate tempo with the ground game will help significantly down the stretch.  First-year coach Charlie Strong has seen his fair share of obstacles this season, but if he can muster up any kind of home-field advantage at Papa John's Stadium in the next two weeks the Cardinals could find themselves in the Big East title hunt come December.      

Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:23 am
Edited on: November 7, 2010 12:26 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 6)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. Good things can come to those who wait - South Florida running back sixth year running back Moise Plancher has dealt with a torn ACL, dislocated elbow, and shoulder surgery since enrolling in Tampa, but finally saw his hard work pay off on Wednesday night against Rutgers.  Plancher rushed 21 times for a career-high 135 yards, leading the Bulls in their 28-27 squeaker of a victory in Tampa.  It was ironic that the youngest team in the FBS (South Florida) collected the 100th program victory against the oldest team in college football, but for first-year coach Skip Holtz it was perfect timing.  The Bulls are now 5-3. and with four games left in conference play have plenty of time to make their case for a favorable bowl bid.  

2. Louisville's rushing attack is interchangeable - Heading into Saturday's matchup with Syracuse, Cardinal fans were nervous about facing the Orange defense without leading rusher Bilal Powell.  Powell leads the Big East and ranks among the top five nationally, but backup running back Jeremy Wright had no trouble filling in and picking up Powell's usual production.  Wright rushed 19 times for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to anchor Louisville's offensive attack against the Orange in the Carrier Dome.  With the win, first-year coach Charlie Strong came one game closer to bowl eligibility, a feat for a team that looked destined for disappointment earlier in the season.  

3. Pittsburgh may have been off, but their hold on the conference was threatened - The Panthers were off this week, securing their undefeated conference record for another week.  But what we learned in the Big East this week was a little bit more about some teams the Panthers have in their future.  Pittsburgh still has to face West Virginia, Cincinnati, South Florida, and Connecticut to before claiming any conference accolades, and after seeing the Bulls in action against Rutgers that might be more difficult than expected.  Louisville proved that there is no "elite" status in the conference, and the Panthers are no exception just because they have yet to lose a game in league play.  Any of Pittsburgh's remaining opponents have the talent on board to knock off the Panthers, so there are no guarantees in the final weeks of Big East play.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 10:11 am
Edited on: November 4, 2010 10:13 am
 

South Florida reaches program milestone with win

Posted by Chip Patterson

With four straight seasons of at least eight wins and a 3-1 bowl record in that span, a shortsighted college football fan can forget at times just how new the South Florida program is to college football.  Started in 1997, the Bulls are the nation's youngest BCS program.  In just 14 seasons, South Florida has jumped from Division I-AA, to I-A Independence, to Conference USA, and now a member of the BCS automatic qualifying Big East.  

On Thursday night, South Florida defeated Rutgers 28-27 for the program's 100th victory.  Interesting that it came against one of the competing teams in the first college football game ever.  Rutgers defeated Princeton 6-4, and the 141st anniversary of that game will be on Saturday.  But Thursday night would be an evening for the youth.  For first-year head coach Skip Holtz, it was a win that also put the Bulls just a game away from their sixth straight season of bowl eligibility.  After a rocky 3-3 start,  there was some doubt in Tampa if the streak would make continue into Holtz' tenure.

So it is only fitting that on the historic night for the South Florida program, the Bulls were led by one of their oldest players.  Sixth-year senior running back Moise Plancher rushed 21 times for a career high 135 yards, ending a four-game losing streak against the Scarlet Knights.  Plancher has suffered through a torn ACL, dislocated elbow, and shoulder surgery since enrolling at South Florida, making Thursday night a special night for the 23 year-old senior as well.  

South Florida is likely out of the Big East title hunt, but after turning around an 0-2 conference start with two straight wins the Bulls have a chance (though it is a long shot) to match the 8-win seasons of 2008 and 2009.  The Bulls now have a long week ahead before traveling to Louisville to face the Cardinals November 13.
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Previewing Week 10 in the Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Big East has been busy making headlines this week with the announcement of planned expansion to ten football-playing schools.  The announcement solidifies many reports and has started speculation on everything from school selection, to timeframe, and even the potential changes to the college football landscape.  Seems fitting that the Big East would choose this week to make their most significant off-field announcement, because there is very little action on the field in Week 10.

Last week, Pittsburgh and Syracuse separated themselves from the rest of the conference by picking up their third conference victory.  Behind them is 1-1 Rutgers, and the rest of the conference is tied at 1-2.  The Panthers are not only a half-game ahead of the Orange, but also own the tiebreaker against Syracuse and Rutgers thanks to victories earlier in the season.  With only a month left in conference play the conference race is not over, but PIttsburgh does carry their own fate from here on out.  It would require two conference losses for the Panthers to be in jeopardy of losing the automatic BCS berth, and even then another team would have to win out.    

But the conference still holds six bowl ties, and every team is still technically capable of making the postseason at this point.  Most of the games left on the schedule are all conference games, and with seven teams 4-4 or better, each game will hold extra importance to anyone hoping to play football in December.  So while it may be hard to chase down conference-leading Pittsburgh, there is still plenty to play for.  The Panthers get Week 10 off, as does West Virginia, Connecticut, and Cincinnati.  

Wednesday - Rutgers at South Florida -  While they try to keep their focus on the field, it is impossible to ignore the health of defensive tackle Eric LaGrand, paralyzed while making a tackle against Army on October 16.  Thankfully, LaGrand was transferred from the hospital to a rehabilitation center on Wednesday, which as about as good as news will come on that front.  With a win, South Florida could come within a game of bowl eligibility.  It has been an up and down season for first-year head coach Skip Holtz, and a postseason berth would put a happy ending on his trial run with the Bulls.  I expect quarterback B.J. Daniels to build on his four TD performance against Cincinnati with another big outing.  PICK - South Florida 28, Rutgers 21 

Saturday - Louisville at Syracuse - Louisville could be without Bilal Powell, the conference's leading rusher, but will get backup Victor Anderson back for the first time in three games.  The Cardinal rushing attack is ranked among the top 25 in the nation, but they will face their greatest challenge against the Syracuse defense.  In the six Syracuse victories, the Orange have held their opponents to 14 points or less.  They have complimented that defense with a patient and effective rushing attack of their own, headed by Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.  Syracuse has been clicking recently, and already looks like a different team than the one that got throttled 45-14 by Pittsburgh.  The Orange have been successful on the road, and I do not see them changing their execution at home.  PICK - Syracuse 19, Louisville 14   
Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Syracuse just turned the Big East upside down

Posted by Chip Patterson

And just like that, the Big East has been blown wide open.  

We figured that it could happen, just weren't all that positive that it would.  But with Syracuse's 19-14 victory, West Virginia has been knocked off their post as the Big East front runner and the conference is now up for grabs.  Syracuse forced West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith into three first half interceptions that the Orange turned into points, and the Mountaineers weren't able to climb back from the halftime deficit.  In fact, after a very exciting back and forth first half of play, neither team scored scored a point after the break.  

Syracuse dominated West Virginia on the ground, racking up 183 rushing yards on one of the best statistical defenses in the nation.  Running back Delone Carter left the game in the second quarter with a hip injury after racking up 75 yards, but backup Antwon Bailey was just as effective for the Orange.  Bailey carried 19 times for 94 yards, career high's in both categories, and Syracuse shed a new light on the Mountaineer squad that many had already penciled in for the conference title. 

Pittsburgh has now jumped into the conference lead with their 41-21 dismantling of Rutgers.  After the 2-0 Panthers stand Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville as teams with one loss.  That list will be shortened after the completion of the Huskies-Cardinals game, but the argument will still be valid for 3/4 of the conference to be considered legitimate contenders.

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Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:12 pm
 

Syracuse just turned the Big East upside down

Posted by Chip Patterson

And just like that, the Big East has been blown wide open.  

We figured that it could happen, just weren't all that positive that it would.  But with Syracuse's 19-14 victory, West Virginia has been knocked off their post as the Big East front runner and the conference is now up for grabs.  Syracuse forced West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith into three first half interceptions that the Orange turned into points, and the Mountaineers weren't able to climb back from the halftime deficit.  In fact, after a very exciting back and forth first half of play, neither team scored scored a point after the break.  

Syracuse dominated West Virginia on the ground, racking up 183 rushing yards on one of the best statistical defenses in the nation.  Running back Delone Carter left the game in the second quarter with a hip injury after racking up 75 yards, but backup Antwon Bailey was just as effective for the Orange.  Bailey carried 19 times for 94 yards, career high's in both categories, and Syracuse shed a new light on the Mountaineer squad that many had already penciled in for the conference title. 

Pittsburgh has now jumped into the conference lead with their 41-21 dismantling of Rutgers.  After the 2-0 Panthers stand Syracuse, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Connecticut and Louisville as teams with one loss.  That list will be shortened after the completion of the Huskies-Cardinals game, but the argument will still be valid for 3/4 of the conference to be considered legitimate contenders.

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Posted on: October 22, 2010 3:14 pm
 

Below the Radar: Four other games to watch

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's easy to pick out this weekend's biggest games: LSU and Auburn , Iowa and Wisconsin , Oklahoma and Missouri . But every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's four of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern):

Penn State (3-3, 0-2) at Minnesota (1-6, 0-3), 12 p.m. This one won't feature a ton of points (the Gophers and Nittany Lions rank 76th and 108th in scoring offense, respectively), and obviously it's not going to have much impact on the Big Ten race, either. But this is the game that could legitimately be the beginning of the end of the Joe Paterno era; the Lions might be able to stomach one humiliating loss (last week's 20-point home shellacking at the hands of Illinois ), but a second at the hands of the reeling, coach-less Gophers -- not to mention the accompanying 0-3 conference record and dwindling hopes of bowl eligibility -- could start the succession planning in earnest. The long-term implications alone make this contest critical.

Rutgers (4-2, 1-0) at Pitt (3-3, 1-0), 12 p.m. Both the Scarlet Knights and Panthers have suffered some serious nonconference pratfalls --- Rutgers' unthinkable loss to Tulane , Pitt's home bludgeoning at the hands of Miami -- but both got off to 1-0 starts in Big East play with big wins over UConn and Syracuse , respectively. This is the Big East, after all: once you get to 2-0, it's impossible not to call you a serious contender in the conference. The key matchup will be Pitt's fast-rising Ray Graham (118 rushing yards per game) against Greg Schiano 's 15th-ranked defense.

Kansas State (5-1, 2-1) at Baylor (5-2, 2-1), 3:30 p.m. There's honest-to-God Big 12 implications here; if Mizzou loses to Oklahoma late Saturday, the Wildcats could forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 North with their own date against the Tigers still to come. But the stakes are probably higher for the Bears anyway; a win would push Baylor to six wins and a postseason berth for the first time since they played the 1994 Alamo Bowl. There's surprising talent on display here, too: Wildcat back Daniel Thomas is the conference's second-leading rusher at 130 yards a game, and Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin (14 TDs, 3 INT) has a Denard Robinson -esque blend of rushing speed and throwing accuracy.

Georgia (3-4, 2-3) at Kentucky (4-3, 1-3), 7:30 p.m. The storyline for this one is simple: the winner stays in the dead thick of the muddled SEC East race. Beyond that, last November the Wildcats used a bevy of Georgia turnovers to upset the Dawgs in Athens and have generally given Mark Richt 's team fits the past few seasons. If Richt wants to permanently silence the bleating for his head that began after Georgia's 1-4 start, he can't afford a second straight defeat at the hands of a team that's been Georgia's traditional inferior. Too bad for him the Wildcats have been feisty at home thus far this season, pulling one major upset against South Carolina last week and coming within one stop of doing the same to Auburn the week before. As long as Randall Cobb is around (even if Derrick Locke isn't), expect more feistiness to come, and for this one to come down to the wire.



 
 
 
 
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