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Tag:Big East
Posted on: November 27, 2010 4:08 pm
Edited on: November 27, 2010 4:12 pm
 

Syracuse home woes continue against BC

Posted by Chip Patterson

One month ago, Syracuse was 6-2 and in the midst of what appeared to be a special season for Orange football.  Head coach Doug Marrone was showered with praises for his job turning around a program that had not seen more than four wins since 2004.  With only one loss in conference play, the Orange were staring down a shot at the Big East title.  

One odd aspect of Syracuse's special season has been their struggles at home.  With their 16-7 loss to Boston College, Syracuse fell to 2-4 in the Carrier Dome.  Each of the Orange's conference losses came at home, and falling to the Eagles on Senior Day was the icing on the cake.  Syracuse will still go bowling, but Orange fans have to look at the three-team race for the title and wonder what could have been.  Marrone's job this season is certainly commendable, but he will have to answer for an offense that only scored 26 points in the last three games combined.
Posted on: November 27, 2010 2:24 pm
 

Connecticut capitalizing on opportunity so far

Posted by Chip Patterson

When West Virginia toppled Pittsburgh in the 103rd Backyard Brawl, Connecticut suddenly had a reason to extra thankful this weekend.  The Panthers loss opened up the Big East conference championship race to the Huskies and Mountaineers, with the prize of a BCS bowl berth at the finish line.  Connecticut has been on a tear since starting the conference season 0-2.  They have knocked off West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse on their climb up the standings.  Now with two weeks left, the Huskies own the tie breaker against the top teams in the conference and control their own destiny.  Connecticut has seized the opportunity so far against Cincinnati, leading 24-10 at half.  

Jordan Todman has continued his impressive performance on the ground, creeping up on the 100 yard mark in the first half.  Todman has broken the 100 yard mark in every game except a 26-0 shutout loss to Louisville, and is averaging 155 yards per game in the Huskies current win streak.  It is awfully impressive to think that a team that just joined Division I is on the verge of a potential BCS Bowl game, and a huge credit to head coach Randy Edsall for getting them to this point. 
Posted on: November 26, 2010 1:40 pm
 

Backyard Brawl more of a staring contest

Posted by Tom Fornelli

If you were to just look at the numbers from the first half of the Backyard Brawl, you would have to assume that Pitt was leading West Virginia.  Just look at these things.

Pitt has outgained WVU 130 yards to 59.  The Panthers have 12 first downs to West Virginia's two.  On third down, the Panthers are 8-of-12 converting. The Mountaineers?  1-of-4.

So what's the score?  It's 14-7...West Virginia.

As is usually the case in games like this, it's turnovers that are deciding the outcome.  Pitt has turned it over three times and West Virginia hasn't. Two of those turnovers led to all 14 Mountaineers points.

On West Virginia's two scoring drives in the first half, they've run a total of 4 plays.

So, on one hand, if you're Dave Wannstedt you have to be somewhat pleased with your team today.  After all, a win keeps your team in line for a BCS berth, and they have outplayed West Virginia through the first thirty minutes.  On the other hand, you were probably hoping that the dumb mistakes and turnovers that had plagued your team through the first ten games of the season had been fixed, and it's clear that they just haven't been.

Still, Pitt is only down seven points.  If it can manage to hold on to the ball in the second half, and keep playing the way it has been, the Panthers should leave this game with a win.
Posted on: November 20, 2010 11:55 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 12:01 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 20)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. It doesn't have to be pretty, Pittsburgh just found a way to win - It took almost three quarters, but the Panthers offense finally caught stride in the second half. A touchdown-less game saw back-to-back-to-back touchdown drives across a 12 minute span that put Pittsburgh up for good 17-10. Tito Sunseri efficiently led the way on the scoring drives, completing 8 of 9 passes in the second half. Dion Lewis was undoubtedly the Panthers' feature back, rushing 22 times for 105 yards and a touchdown. Avoiding a loss keeps Pittsburgh alone atop the Big East standings, as we creep closer to the end of the season and crowning of a conference champion. With only two other two-loss teams left, all eyes will be on the 103rd Backyard Brawl against West Virginia next week. A Panthers win would eliminate all other contenders except Connecticut, a West Virginia victory blows the race wide open with a week left.

2. At 7-3, West Virginia can thank their defense for success - While many teams fear the power and potential of West Virginia's offense, their success in the 2010 season can be credited mostly to their defense. The Mountaineer defense is among the top five in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 12.9 points per game. No team has scored more than 21 points on West Virginia, Saturday's 17-10 victory over Louisville was another example of Bill Stewart's defensive unit closing out a game, pitching a second half shutout against a Cardinals rushing attack that entered the Saturday averaging 192.3 yards per game -- best in the conference.

3. Connecticut poses the biggest threat as a dark horse - On a three game winning streak, one of the conference's hottest teams is Connecticut. The Huskies have moved from winless and sub-.500 to one of three teams competing for a BCS Bowl birth in late November. The Huskies 3-2 conference record is good enough for second place, and with wins over West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse, they own the tie-breaker against the conference's best teams. If Connecticut wins against Cincinnati and South Florida, all they need is one loss from Pittsburgh and the Huskies will find themselves bowling in January. It would be quite an accomplishment for a program that just joined Division I-A in 2002.

4. Learning the scenarios for the Big East title contenders -
For Pittsburgh to win the Big East - Simply - win both of their remaining games. Can also clinch the division with a win over West Virginia paired with a Connecticut loss. Losing to West Virginia would blow the title hunt wide open with Connecticut taking a slight advantage by owning both tiebreakers.

For West Virginia to win the Big East - West Virginia needs to win the Backyard Brawl and defeat Rutgers in the season finale. They also will need a Connecticut loss in order to avoid losing the conference championship to the Huskies in a tiebreaker.

For Connecticut to win the Big East - The Huskies need a Panthers loss in order to get a shot, but victories over the Panthers and Mountaineers have given Connecticut protection in the event of any ties. However, the Huskies would need to win out as well, and after watching Cincinnati hang 69 points on Rutgers, there are no guarantees in the Big East.

Posted on: November 20, 2010 6:19 pm
Edited on: November 20, 2010 6:53 pm
 

Backyard Brawl could decide the Big East

Posted by Chip Patterson

With Pittsburgh and West Virginia collecting wins on Saturday, the road to a BCS Bowl game will run straight through the Backyard Brawl next week in Pittsburgh.  The 103rd meeting of the Panthers and Mountaineers is one of the most pivotal games remaining in the Big East title race.  Pittsburgh rode a hot second half from quarterback Tito Sunseri to a 17-10 victory, giving the Panthers a one game lead in the conference with two games left on the schedule.  

Syracuse, West Virginia, and Connecticut are the only remaining two-loss teams in the conference, and either the Orange or Huskies will pick up their third conference loss when they square off later this evening.  West Virginia will have a chance to tie the Panthers for the best conference record and own the head-to-head tiebreaker with a win next weekend.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 3:57 pm
 

Greg Romeus's season (and college career?) over

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Sometimes, college football just isn't fair. Just ask Pitt defensive end Greg Romeus .

Romeus collected eight sacks and 11.5 tackles-for-loss in 2009 on his way to being named Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year, and could have been a high draft pick had he decided to leave after his junior season. Instead he returned to help the Panthers try and win Dave Wannstedt 's first Big East title, and while Pitt might manage that anyway, it won't be for Romeus's expolits on the field; he suffered a back injury in the Panthers's season-opening loss to Utah , missed seven games, returned for last Thursday's matchup against UConn ... and promptly suffered a knee injury that Pitt announced today was a torn anterior cruciate ligament .

The injury will end Romeus's season after just those two appearances without either a sack or tackle-for-loss. If there's any silver lining* to what has to be a crushing disappointment for both Romeus and Pitt, it's that it's possible that after missing so much time in 2010, the NCAA could grant him a medical waiver and a sixth year of eligibilty. (Romeus redshirted as a freshman.) It's premature to say he's played his last game in a Pitt uniform.

Then again, Romeus may want to capitalize on whatever lingering good will he has with NFL scouts while he can. Either way, it's hard to pick out any top-level draft prospect who's suffered a more difficult season than Romeus.

*OK, there's one more silver lining at least for Pitt: in Jabaal Sheard and Brandon Lindsey , they have a pair of defensive ends with 27 combined sacks over the past two seasons. Few positions on few teams in the country were as loaded as the Panthers were at DE entering this season.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 2:30 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 2:32 am
 

What I learned from the Big East (Nov. 13)

Posted by Chip Patterson

1. West Virginia is tired of being talked down to - There was a time, in this very feature, when it was declared that West Virginia looked like they could cruise to the Big East title. But coming into Saturday, the Mountaineers were tied at the bottom of the conference standings and no longer considered a threat by many. Tired of being disrespected, West Virginia made a statement in the 37-10 victory over Cincinnati. Recently, it has been difficult to find the same West Virginia team that used to hold position in the polls and gave LSU a run for their money. The Mountaineers scored fast and often, jumping out to a 30-3 halftime lead on the Bearcats. Cincinnati never had a chance, with the defense chipping in as well to force four turnovers. With how wide open the Big East race is, the Mountaineers are now bowl eligible, and not completely out of the conference championship race.

2. Skip Holtz ushering in new chapter at USF - When the Jim Leavitt scandal erupted a season ago, a dark cloud hovered over the young program. If South Florida was going to continue the kind of early success that has catapulted the Bulls up the football ranks, they needed to figure out a way to start a new chapter. Enter Skip Holtz, a young, football-smart coach from a rich football bloodline and also recent success at East Carolina. Holtz' first two conference games were a harsh welcome to the conference, losing to Syracuse and West Virginia. But since the rough start, the Bulls have been rolling and now find themselves eligible for the postseason. The overtime victory at Louisville extended the winning streak to three, as South Florida looks ahead to hosting the first-place Pittsburgh Panthers. The Bulls are one of the hottest teams in the conference, and pose a great threat to Pittsburgh's conference lead with Saturday's date in Tampa just a week away.

3. Get used to these Big East teams, they'll be playing into December - Big East could have a heavy representation in the bowl picture- Widely regarded as one of the worst conferences with an automatic qualifying bid to the BCS, the Big East already has three bowl eligible teams. Also, it is possible that Connecticut, Louisville, and conference leader Pittsburgh will all become eligible as well, giving the conference six possible teams in postseason play. With all of the criticism leveled on the conference, there has to be some bit of optimism from the fact that 3/4 of the conference will be playing into December. Others would argue that the records are just a snapshot of the conferences mediocrity. Whichever way you slice it, it looks like the Big East will have several chances to prove their worth in bowl play.

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.      

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com