Tag:Isaiah Pead
Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:53 am
Edited on: November 13, 2011 2:35 am
 

Big East Winners and Losers: Week 11



Posted by Chip Patterson


A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.

WINNER: Dana Holgorsen's "Winners"

The West Virginia head coach was so fed up with his team's effort in recent weeks, he threatened to cut the travel roster - only taking "who wants to win." The Mountaineers did travel a few short of their usual amount, which is about 70. But the ones that did walk into Paul Brown Stadium did so prepared to win, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line got pressure on the quarterback consistently for the first time in weeks, led by the efforts of Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin. Offensively Geno Smith found ways to put the ball in the hands of Tavon Austin (9 catches, 126 yards) and Stedman Bailey (6 catches, 104 yards) while avoiding interceptions. The Mountaineers did benefit from Zach Collaros' injury, but a win is a win in the now wide open Big East title race.

LOSER: Zach Collaros, Cincinnati

Cincinnati picking up their first conference loss against West Virginia on Saturday was not just significant because it re-opens the conference title race. The Bearcats offense took a huge hit when senior quarterback Zach Collaros left the game with an apparent ankle injury. The veteran signal caller was hit by West Virginia defensive end Bruce Irvin, coughing up the ball in the end zone for a Mountaineer recover touchdown. But as Collaros was being brought to the ground his leg appeared to bend underneath his body, resulting in the Cincinnati medical staff taking him into the locker room.

Cincinnati's offense eventually got running under athletic backup Munchie Legaux, but there was a slow start and considerable drop off from when Collaros is under center. While Legaux can present that same rushing threat that Collaros presents to a defense, the young sophomore quarterback is not as productive moving the ball through the air. Cincinnati still holds a one-game on the rest of the pack in the Big East standings, but they must win out in order to avoid a tiebreaker scenario with another team. Things get serious next week for the Bearcats, who will face Rutgers next week on the road with at least a share of the Big East title on the line. The official word on Collaros is an ankle injury, and he is expected to undergo further testing before any decisions are made regarding his availability for next week. When he reemerged from the locker room, Collaros was in street clothes on crutches. Needless to say, it was not a welcome sight for Cincinnati fans.

WINNER: Mohamed Sanu

Despite an ever-changing quarterback situation, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has been able to put together a historic 2011 season. He was once again the most dominant offensive threat for the Scarlet Knights in the 27-12 win over Army, pulling in 13 of the team's 17 receptions. The performance brings Sanu's reception count on the season to 94, breaking the Big East single-season record for catches. The record (92) was previously held by former Pittsburgh and current Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The consistency of having Sanu has been a crutch for an otherwise inconsistent offense, and a big part of the reason the Scarlet Knights are 7-3 heading into the final weeks of the season.

LOSER: Louisville's rush defense

Coming into the game, Louisville relied on one of the Big East's toughest rushing defenses to keep the Cardinals' in games and give freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater a chance. But after the 38-35 win over West Virginia put Charlie Strong's team in a position to make a run at a BCS bowl bid, the Cardinals put up one of their worst defensive efforts since Strong arrived in Louisville. The Cardinals gave up 200 yards on the ground to Pittsburgh, who has been without leading rusher Ray Graham (season-ending knee injury) since Oct. 26. The inability to stop the Panthers on the ground kept Bridgewater and the offense from opportunities to climb back into the game.

WINNER: BJ Daniels 

After a white-hot start and an early season national ranking as high as No. 15, South Florida quickly found themselves in jeopardy of making a bowl game at the end of 2011. The Bulls entered Friday night's contest against Syracuse in the Carrier Dome needing a win to keep their hopes of a second-straight bowl appearance under Skip Holtz alive. Junior quarterback BJ Daniels has received praise from coaches and teammates alike for the strides he's made this season under center. Daniels stepped up when his team needed him most, picking up 254 yards through the air and leading the Bulls in rushing with 117 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The 371 yards of total offense nearly outgained Syracuse as a team (405), and looked effortless as Daniels was not sacked once and did not throw a single interception. It was the performance USF needed from their offensive leader, and now the Bulls have three consecutive home games to try and get that sixth win and return to the postseason.

LOSER: Big East kickers

The most notable kicking struggles in Week 11 occurred in West Virginia's 24-21 victory over Cincinnati in Paul Brown Stadium, but the league as a whole did not boot it well this weekend. Tyler Bitancurt hit just one of three field goals against the Bearcats, but that one ended up deciding the game with Cincinnati's Tony Miliano missing both of his attempts. The blocked 31-yard field goal as time expired will be the one that haunts the freshman kicker, but the kicking woes were a trend across the Big East. The place-kickers in the conference combined to make just 5 of 11 field goals on the weekend, numbers that were padded with the performances of South Florida's Maikon Bonani (3/3) and Syracuse's Ross Krautman (1/1).

WINNER: Fans of tiebreaker scenarios 

Heading into the weekend, Cincinnati was the conference's only unbeaten team, and Louisville held one game over a slew of 2-loss (conference record) contenders in the standings. With Cincinnati losing at home to West Virginia and Louisville doing the same against Pittsburgh, the race has been blown wide open. The Bearcats maintain their slight lead on the pack with only one conference loss, but five other teams all are in position to possibly win a share of the Big East title in the next three weeks.

The Big East title has been shared four of the last eight seasons, but there is only one gold medal: the automatic bid to a BCS bowl. So as the final weeks wind down, every matchup will have potential tie-breaker implications in the final sorting of the league standings. From here on out, every 2-loss team facing Cincinnati has a shot to win at least a share of the title. This starts with Rutgers welcoming the visiting Bearcats next week at High Point Solutions Stadium. With the victory over West Virginia, the Mountaineers have also put themselves in a favorable position as long as they win out and Cincinnati picks up another loss along the way. Louisville, considered a dark horse just a week ago, will need to hit the road to face Connecticut and South Florida on their quest for a return to the BCS bowls.

No team has ever won even a share of the Big East title with more than two conference losses. With Cincinnati losing to West Virginia and five other teams with two losses, the final three weeks of the regular season will be a battle for survival for all six teams in contention. We'll brush up on the Big East tiebreaker rules next week, but anyone who loves this kind of title race chaos will enjoy the conference play down the stretch.

LOSER: USF and Syrcause 

While 75% of the conference buckles down for an intense final stretch of league games, South Florida and Syracuse are the only teams not invited to the party. With matching 1-4 conference records, the Bulls and Orange are eliminated from contention for the Big East title. The good news for these two struggling squads is that bowl eligibility is still in the cards. Syracuse needs to win one of their final two contests to make the postseason for the second straight year, though they might find that difficult with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh on the schedule. South Florida has the benefit of three home games to close the regular season, needing just one more win to become bowl eligible. The Bulls host Miami and Louisville before closing the schedule against West Virginia on a nationally televised Thursday night showdown.

BONUS WINNER: Rutgers' Eric LeGrand and Army running back Malcolm Brown



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Posted on: November 12, 2011 4:40 pm
 

QUICK HITS: West Virginia 24, Cincinnati 21

Posted by Chip Patterson

WEST VIRGINIA WON. Dana Holgorsen only wanted to take winners with him to Cincinnati, and those who made the trip will return to Morgantown as winners after holding on for a 24-21 victory over the Bearcats. Cincinnati had a chance to to tie the game with a 31-yard field goal, but Tony Miliano's kick was blocked and the Mountaineers held on for the win.  Cincinnati starting quarterback Zach Collaros left the game with an apprent leg injury suffered on a fumble forced by Bruce Irvin

HOW WEST VIRGINIA WON: Few weapons on the West Virginia roster are as valuable as wide receiver Tavon Austin. Austin did about everything for West Virginia, totaling 246 all-purpose yards on the afternoon. Austin and fellow wide receiver Stedman Bailey were once again favorite targets for quarterback Geno Smith, who finished with 376 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. The Mountaineers overcame two missed field goals, 13 penalties, and only 28 yards rushing to squeak out the victory. Much of the credit can be given to the West Virginia defense, which responded well when the Bearcats were forced to turn to backup quarterback Munchie Legaux.

WHEN WEST VIRGINIA WON: West Virginia got a huge boost when Collaros left the game with a leg injury. The senior quarterback is the key to making the Cincinnati offense hum, and Legaux did not find his rhythm until late in the third quarter. But after giving up the lead to the Bearcats early in the fourth quarter, Geno Smith answered by orchestrating an impressive 12 play, 74 yard drive on the next possession to immediately re-take the lead for good.

WHAT WEST VIRGINIA WON: A loss would have knocked the Mountaineers from Big East title contention. But the victory not only kept their BCS hopes alive, but gave them the advantage should the Bearcats drop another conference game down the stretch. .

WHAT CINCINNATI LOST: The all-important head-to-head tie breaker against a conference title contender. The Bearcats can not afford another conference loss down the stretch, now needing to keep a game of separation ahead of West Virginia. Not to mention the potential loss of Collaros, who was on crutches by the end of the game. .

THAT WAS CRAZY: The Big East standings are now a complete muddled mess. With Cincinnati and Louisville losing on Saturday, six teams are within one game of the lead in the standings heading into the final weeks of play. Every game now carries a huge importance, as tiebreaker scenarios will play themselves out in these final contests.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Big East poll reactions, Week 10

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big East fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

23/18. Cincinnati

The Bearcats maintain their lead in the Big East and status as one of the conference's biggest surprises, after overcoming a 10-point third quarter deficit to defeat Pittsburgh 26-23 at Heinz Field on Saturday. Even when quarterback Zach Collaros got back to the INT-happy ways of 2010, and the Bearcats converted on only 2 of 13 third downs, Butch Jones' squad found a way to win. The defense forced two second-half turnovers that were turned into points, showing why Cincinnati ranks third nationally in turnover margin. There are still four games left on the schedule, but a win against West Virginia would put the Bearcats in a terrific position to lock up the Big East title down the stretch.


Others receiving votesWest Virginia hangs around in ballots from both polls, but receives the expected boot from the cumulative rankings. Rutgers collected a vote from the Coaches, but it is otherwise bleak in the Big East.

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 4:21 pm
 

Big East poll reactions, Week 9

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big East fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

23/22. Cincinnati

Even though the Bearcats did not take the field this weekend, it was another week as the Big East's only unbeaten team in conference play. In order to hold their spot in the standings and rankings, Cincinnati must defeat Pittsburgh on the road and West Virginia at home in the next two weeks.  Second-year head coach Butch Jones already has erased the memory of last year's 4-8 showing, but the 6-1 start has the Cincinnati fan base thinking Big East title. Those dreams will either be reinforced or washed away in the next few weeks, as the Bearcats face arguably the toughest portion of the conference schedule.

24/21. West Virginia

West Virginia entered a difficult situation against Rutgers on Saturday. With the windy, snow-filled conditions, and Eric LeGrand leading the Scarlet Knights on the field it did not seem like the pass-happy Mountaineers had much going for them. But after trailing 31-21 at halftime the Mountaineers defense turned up the pressure on freshman quarterback Gary Nova, shutting out the Scarlet Knights in the second half on the way to a 41-31 win.

Shawne Alston and Dustin Garrison led a suddenly relevant ground attack for the Mountaineers, while Geno Smith used quick passes to Tavon Austin and Brad Starks to move the ball in the unfriendly weather. It was one of the strongest displays of resiliency by Dana Holgorsen's squad since their brief comeback in the LSU game, a great sign after the uninspiring performance against Syracuse.

Others receiving votesNone.  Syracuse was in this position last week, but after their flat performance against Louisville there were no votes givien to Doug Marrone's Orange from either poll.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:01 pm
 

Big East poll reactions, Week 8

Posted by Chip Patterson

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big East fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

24/23. Cincinnati

Cincinnati's early success has been discredited by many, either for a lack of competition or fresh memories for a mistake-laden 2010 campaign. But with Week Eight in the books, the Bearcats are the only team still unbeaten in conference play

The improvement from year one to year two under head coach Butch Jones has paid off, and it all starts with turnovers. In 2010 the Bearcats put up big offensive numbers, but sloppy execution and a young defense resulted in finishing the season 119th nationally in turnover margin. Now Cincinnati leads the Big East in the same category, and ranks 3rd nationally behind Oklahoma State and LSU. With West Virginia's loss the door is open for Cincinnati to try make a run for their third Big East title in four years.

25/24. West Virginia

West Virginia was embarrassed and exposed by Syracuse on Friday night, but one poor performance was not enough to completely erase the Mountaineers' body of work in the minds of the voters. Dana Holgorsen's next task as a first-year head coach will be refocusing this group as they make a push for the Big East title down the stretch. If the Mountaineers win out (including a victory over 2-0 Cincinnati on Nov. 12) they can guarantee at least a share of the league championship. But in order to do that they need to find a way to do a better job protecting Geno Smith, and the defense needs to recapture the aggressiveness that defined the unit in 2010.

Others receiving votes:Doug Marrone's Syracuse team got some predictable attention from the voters after the defeat of West Virginia. The Orange schemed well for the primetime showdown, and now the challenge will be turning their strong start into a big finish in Marrone's third year at the helm. Rutgers, despite an embarrassing loss to Louisville on Friday that featured three Gary Nova interceptions, also received votes in both the AP and Coaches poll.

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Posted on: September 23, 2011 4:36 pm
Edited on: September 23, 2011 4:42 pm
 

PODCAST: ACC, Big East, and other comedy

Posted by Chip Patterson

Adam Aizer and I watched several comedies on Thursday night. One was a football game, the others were on primetime television. We break down several aspects of Cincinnati's 44-14 route of N.C. State, on and off the field. We also preview some of the ACC's biggest matchups in Week 4, including North Carolina trying to slow down Georgia Tech, and a banged up Florida State team trying to bounce back against Clemson in Death Valley.

We also answer questions raised in one of the better listener emails this week, as it pertains to Saturday night's showcase of LSU and West Virginia under the lights in Morgantown.

If you would like to submit a question or feedback for next week's podcast, send it to cbsipodcastfeedback [at] cbs [dot] com

Listen below, download the MP3, or you can click here to open up the pop-out player and keep browsing. Don't forget to subscribe to the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast on iTunes



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Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:36 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Cincinnati 44, N.C. State 14

Posted by Chip Patterson

CINCINNATI WON. A year after getting burned 30-19 in Raleigh, the Bearcats exacted their revenge with a 44-14 route of N.C. State on national television Thursday night. Senior quarterback Zach Collaros threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns while adding 52 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Bearcats dominated this game from the beginning, only allowing themselves to burned by two huge T.J. Graham touchdowns.

HOW CINCINNATI WON: The Bearcats entered Thursday's showdown against the Wolfpack charged up and simply more ready to play. They were more physical on the line of scrimmage, blocking on the perimeter, and swarming to the ball on defense. The result was plenty of room for running back Isaiah Pead to rack up 167 yards on 27 carries, and lots of time for Zach Collaros to dice up the N.C. State secondary.

WHEN CINCINNATI WON: In the first 20 minutes of game time, the Bearcats' defense had forced the Wolfpack to punt twice and quarterback Mike Glennon had thrown two interceptions. In response, the Cincinnati offense had scored three touchdowns. At 21-0 with more than 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, this game felt like it was already over.

WHAT CINCINNATI WON: If the Bearcats can take care of business against Miami (OH) next week, they will have equalled their win total from 2010 by the time conference play begins. That alone is a huge boost for Butch Jones, who was already starting to hear it from the Bearcat faithful after the eight-win drop-off in his first season as head coach.

WHAT NC STATE LOST: Losing defensive tackle Brian Slay to an ankle injury is a huge blow to an already depleted defensive line. The Wolfpack are so depleted up front, there was one point where they had a walk-on offensive guard playing defensive tackle. If the team is having some confidence issues, Thursday night's beatdown did not help. This team needs a leader, and that leader needs to step up with the long prep week for Georgia Tech.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Despite the embarrassing loss, N.C. State does walk out of Nippert Stadium with a clear-cut idea of their best offense: give the ball to T.J. Graham in space. The wide receiver turned seven catches into 176 yards and the Wolfpack's only touchdowns, giving him five all-purpose scores on the season.

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Posted on: September 2, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2011 6:16 pm
 

Cincinnati LB calling for a shutout in opener

Posted by Chip Patterson

Cincinnati's defense was horrendous last year. The Bearcats gave up 369.4 yards and 28.0 points per game, finishing near the bottom of the conference in most defensive rankings. It was particularly frustrating considering the offense, led by All-Big East quarterback Zach Collaros was putting up 27.1 points per game and leading the conference. The defensive woes combined with a -15 turnover margin - faulting both sides of the ball - resulted in a 4-8 record for Butch Jones' first year at the helm and the first bowl-less postseason since 2005.

Improving both the defense and turnovers have been at the top of Cincinnati's list since the beginning of spring practice. With all 11 starters returning, the unit has reportedly used their experience to make great strides in the offseason and fall camp. After all the talk, it is now time for the unit to show results. Their first chance will be on Saturday against Austin Peay.

"We need to go out and get a shutout," senior linebacker JK Schaffer told reporters. "That's what we 're going for and that's our goal. I really don't want to settle for anything less. We have a lot of things to prove. The whole defense understands that."

Schaffer was an all-conference second team selection in 2010, and was named to the CBSSports.com Preseason All-Big East Team earlier this month. The senior middle linebacker is not only one of the few heralded individuals on the unit, but he is also expected to make his teammates better as they try to fix many of last season's mistakes. The players have spoken during the offseason about "a different attitude" and "buying in" to Butch Jones with one year in the can.

But the time for recycled football phrases is over as the Bearcats prepare for a new season. With Collaros, running back Isaiah Pead (1,063 yards, 6 TDs), and wide receiver DJ Woods (57 catches, 898 yards, 8 TDs) all returning, Cincinnati's offense should be able to put up comparable numbers to 2010. An improved defense should put Cincinnati in a position to make the postseason once again and possibly be a long-shot conference title contender. With a trip to Knoxville awaiting them in Week 2, Saturday would be a great time to make a statement.

A shutout, as Schaffer is suggesting, would be quite the statement. The Bearcats kick off against Austin Peay at 7 p.m. in Nippert Stadium.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com