Posted on: October 18, 2010 8:10 pm
Edited on: October 18, 2010 9:12 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The Midseason Report separates the contenders from the pretenders in each conference race. The Big East has been openly criticized for their weakness in the 2010 season, but they still hold on to a BCS Bowl berth. Someone has to win it, ranked or not. West Virginia has carried the banner for the conference thus far, but with a backlogged conference schedule, there is a lot of football left.
West Virginia (1-0)(5-1) - The race for the Big East is pretty much the Mountaineers' to lose at this point. They appear to be a far superior team to their conference counterparts on both sides of the ball. While there is some concern for running back Noel Devine's health and recent decline in production, quarterback Geno Smith has emerged as the center of the West Virginia offense. Smith has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions, and has done a good job spreading the receptions around the field, keeping the defense from stacking the box against Devine. Head coach Bill Stewart said that Devine is "close to 100 percent" finally after injuring his foot against LSU. Devine has not missed much time, but has been noticeably limited on the field. The defense has also been a pleasant surprise for West Virginia fans in 2010. Allowing only 12.3 points per game, the Mountaineers are rank 3rd in the nation in scoring defense. Their greatest challenge left on the schedule is a late season matchup at Pittsburgh November 26. But even that game looks very winnable at this point.
Rutgers (1-0)(4-2) - The most significant event of the Scarlet Knights' season unfortunately is also one of the saddest. Defensive tackle Eric LeGrand still is in the hospital, paralyzed after making a special teams tackle in the 23-20 overtime win against Army. But if you are looking for good things to take from the game, the most impressive was the performance of quarterback Chas Dodd. Dodd appears to have the starting job locked up for now, after throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns to help Rutgers rally back from a 17-3 third quarter deficit. Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights have one of the most difficult remaining schedules in the conference. Road trips to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and West Virginia make a daunting order for Greg Schiano's squad.
Cincinnati (1-0)(3-3) - The Bearcats have shown flashes of greatness in 2010, they have just failed to carry it for an entire game. However with a schedule full of conference foes, the slate might as well be clean for Cincinnati. Quarterback Zach Collaros continues to sling the ball all over the field, with four straight games of at least 200 yards and three touchdowns. His most recent five touchdown outing helped the Bearcats lock up that first road conference victory. They still will have to face the other three teams on this list of contenders, but only have to leave home to travel to Morgantown. Their failure to put a complete game does not give me confidence they will take the conference, but it does not make the feat impossible.
Pittsburgh (1-0)(3-3) - Pittsburgh's season has been painfully inconsistent. Not only have they failed to string together back-to-back wins, but their "Jekyll and Hyde" routine has kept them from climbing back into the national scene. Ever since the season opening loss at Utah it has been a season of head scratching for Panther fans. The good news is there are six conference games left on the schedule, and regardless of overall record they are currently tied for first. Additionally, they also picked up their victory on the road, leaving only one significant test away from home: a season finale showdown with Cincinnati. Both teams will be fighting for postseason postion (or maybe eligibility) and should the Panthers string some wins together and upset the Mountaineers, could have conference title implications. Having said that, I'm not holding my breath on the Panthers running the table.
Posted on: October 16, 2010 10:04 pm
Edited on: October 16, 2010 10:08 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
1.) West Virginia's defense is playing a big part in West Virginia's success - West Virginia has largely been thought of as an offensive threat, especially with Noel Devine and Geno Smith in the backfield, but West Virginia fans should be thanking their defense for the 5-1 start. West Virginia's defensive unit shut down B.J. Daniels and the South Florida Bulls, keeping them out of the end zone for the entirety of their 20-6 win. The Mountaineers are only giving up an average of 12.3 points per game, best in the conference and making them one of the best defenses nationally. When Smith or Devine have been inconsistent, the defense has been able to carry the Mountaineers.
2.) Syracuse is not ready to be considered a contender - Last week, I mistakenly suggested that Syracuse might be ready to climb out of the incredibly deep hole and make things interesting in the Big East. After a three game winning streak, including knocking off South Florida in Tampa, the Orange looked like they were ready to make a statement against Pittsburgh. The only statement made in Pittsburgh was that Syracuse's success mostly had to do with the caliber of their opponents, and they might not be ready to be considered a contender in the Big East. Syracuse's defense looked porous against a Pittsburgh squad that has been far from impressive.
3.) Chas Dodd is the man (for now) at Rutgers - When Tom Savage went down in the second quarter against Tulane, Chas Dodd saw an opportunity to repeat history at Rutgers. When Savage was a freshman, he earned the starting job early in the season and won over fans orchestrating memorable wins like the last-minute touchdown to defeat Connecticut. Two weeks later Dodd is 2-0 as a starter, after leading the Scarlet Knights to a close win over Connecticut and a 23-20 victory of Army in overtime. Dodd threw for 251 yards and a pair of touchdowns to lead Rutgers, who had to overcome a 17-3 second quarter deficit before finally locking up the win in overtime. The starting job appears to be Dodd's, at least for now.
4.) Anyone could win the Big East (still)- West Virginia appears to be the best team in the conference, but with most teams backlogging their schedule with conference games, there is a lot of Big East football left to play. West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Rutgers all could be considered legitimate contenders, and with a few upsets Syracuse and Louisville could be added to that conversation as well. No one team looks supremely dominant, but all teams have shown flashes of greatness at some point. West Virginia is the favorite, but they will have to finish their season playing Pittsburgh and Rutgers back-to-back, so nothing is certain.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 9:02 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 9:06 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. West Virginia...And Everyone Else - There were concerns regarding West Virginia's offensive capabilities with a banged-up Noel Devine in the lineup, but after the 445 yards of total offense amassed in the Mountaineers 49-10 victory over UNLV, many of those concerns have been laid to rest. Quarterback Geno Smith completed 12 of 16 passes for 220 yards and connected with wide receiver Brad Starks for three touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers, and for the first time in eight games the offense did not commit a single turnover. While the Mountaineers have yet to play a conference game, the eye test would suggest that Bill Stewart's squad is running at a different speed than the rest of the conference at this point in the season.
2. Rutgers Might Have A QB Controversy On Their Hands - Rutgers' seemingly annual nail-biter with Connecticut revealed a new hero in Piscataway in the likes of true freshman quarterback Chas Dodd. With starting quarterback Tom Savage out with a hand injury, Dodd let if loose through the air for 322 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Savage led the offense for the most of his time at Rutgers, but has struggled so far in the 2010 season. His only touchdown came in the Scarlet Knights' 31-0 season opening victory against Norfolk State. Head coach Greg Schiano will have a difficult decision moving forward choosing between the two young signal callers.
3. (Hold Your Breath) Syracuse Is Leading The Big East - Granted, the Orange have yet to play much of anything that resembles a formidable opponent, but Syracuse is in first place nonetheless. The 4-1 Orange held strong against B.J. Daniels and the South Florida Bulls, not allowing a single offensive touchdown in their 13-9 victory. One of the reasons has been the success of the running game. Running back Delone Carter is among the league's leading rushers at 104.8 yards per game, and against South Florida he and backup junior Antwon Bailey combined for 186 yards on the ground. Syracuse may not be ready to start thinking Big East title, but they will have a very good shot to make their first postseason appearance since 1999.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 11:36 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
When West Virginia has its first ever meeting with UNLV -- which will no doubt become one of the greatest rivalries in college football history -- on Saturday it's possible it'll be doing it with one of its best offensive weapons. Noel Devine hurt his toe in the Mountaineers' loss to LSU two weeks ago, and though Devine stayed in the game, he was obviously limited, finishing the game with only 37 yards on 14 carries.
Now, even though West Virginia was off last weekend, and Devine's toe has had time to heal, there's still some question about his status against UNLV. Not even his head coach is all that sure, though he is encouraged by how Devine is treating the injury.
"He is trying to get on the mend; he has a bone bruise under his toe," West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said of Devine, who has 391 yards and two touchdowns in the first four games. "It is not turf toe, it is a bone bruise, so when he pivots, that aches. ... A bone is not like a muscle or a joint, but hopefully he will be good."
Should Devine not be able to go on Saturday the Mountaineers will rely on Shawne Alston and Daquan Hargrett, though Stewart also said that freshman Trey Johnson could enter the mix as well.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 10:48 am
Edited on: September 30, 2010 4:08 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Two days after our own Dennis Dodd passed along the reports that the Big East was targeting TCU for membership, and a day after athletic director Chris Del Conte issued an ambiguous "no comment" on the issue, it is being reported that the two sides have met and discussed a possible move that would bring the Horned Frogs to the Big East.
Del Conte has been unavailable for comment to the media while away on business in New York and Philadelphia, but the Dallas Morning News is reporting that discussions have already taken place, even within the last month.
TCU has met with Big East officials within the past 30 days to discuss the logistics of a move by TCU in either the 2011 or 2012 seasons, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
TCU joined the Mountain West Conference back in 2005, and would be anxious to make another move with the departure of Utah and arrival of Boise State after this season. The Mountain West was excited to get the Broncos with hope of getting AQ status, but those discussions have faded. Now, the Horned Frogs best option may be to revitalize a conference that many feel are on the verge of losing their AQ status.
The Big East has openly admitted to constantly evaluating options for expansion and new television deals. Bringing in TCU would open up Big East football to a whole new market, and likely would bring with it a more lucrative television deal.
Aside from the obvious geographical concerns, there are also identity issues that could be caused by adding a Texas school to the Big East. Though after adding DePaul and Marquette to the conference for basketball, it is clear the Big East has no problems reaching out to the Midwest. Several alternative conference names have been suggested, and we here at the College Football Blog are open to more. Drop your new conference name suggestions in the comments below, or tweet them to us @CBSSportsNCAAF.
Posted on: September 28, 2010 8:10 pm
Posted by College Football Blog staff
CBS's Dennis Dodd passed along a report today that the Big East is showing some interest in TCU, of all schools. It's hardly a geographic fit, though Dodd rightly points out that DFW isn't exactly convenient for the Mountain West either.
But while we were dismayed in years past to see the Big Ten (and then the Big Twelve) keep their conference names the same despite their changing their membership numbers, at least then we understood; there's some precedent for using numbers as your brand name, after all. It happens.
Redefining the cardinal directions, however, is where we draw the line. If the Big East takes in TCU, then it can't be called the Big East anymore. We rolled our eyes when they moved west in 2005, but at least DePaul and Marquette are still east of the Mississippi. TCU, however, is a deal-breaker. Fortunately for the conference brass, however, we've compiled several more agreeable alternative names.
Posted on: September 20, 2010 7:26 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Big East is an automatic BCS-qualifying conference, and as one of the six "power" conference, they are afforded a certain amount of respect. Thus, we owe it to the conference and its members to begin this entry with a compliment. So here it goes: The Big East is three games over .500 against all competition this year.
And that's about it. Because even that lackluster 12-9 record among the eight Big East teams is misleading. For one, every single team is 1-0 against FCS competition. So, good news, Big East: if the conference as a whole were to be relegated tomorrow (unlikely as that may be), they'd be very good all of a sudden. Against the FBS, though, not so much; the Big East is 4-9 overall, which includes a 3-3 record against teams that aren't even in automatic-qualifier conferences. For example, Connecticut lost to Temple last week. By 14 points.
That brings us to the meat of the Big East's resume, and that's play against quality competition. It almost couldn't possibly be worse. The conference is 1-8 against BCS conference teams. Only West Virginia -- who beat a truly miserable Maryland team last Saturday -- has such a win under its belt. That, friends, is poor performance nonpareil.
If that's all going to change in the Big East's favor at all this season, it's going to have to be this weekend; Miami visits Pitt on Thursday, Oklahoma travels to Cincinnati, West Virginia is at LSU, and Rutgers hosts North Carolina. Four difficult -- but winnable -- games against high-profile competition. Among the four listed games, WhatIfSports.com only gives Pitt better than even odds to come away with a victory, so don't be terribly surprised if the conference can't break even against its "real" competition this weekend.
If there's one saving grace to all of this, it's that a conference is usually judged by its highest achievers. The SEC has always been able to rest its laurels on the members who would run through the conference undefeated, for example, because those teams almost always win their national championship games that await. Nobody would demean a conference that could produce a 14-0 Alabama team if that Crimson Tide runs through 14-0 Texas as happened last year, after all. So, West Virginia now has a similar opportunity. While we're not positive that even an undefeated Mountaineers team is guaranteed a BCS Championship berth, they will certainly face high competition during bowl season when that time comes (even if they drop a game between now and then). Win that matchup, and people will pay less and less attention to the cupcakes littering the Mountaineers' conference path.
Posted on: September 10, 2010 2:24 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Philadelphia Daily News reported today that the Big East has asked Villanova about moving their football program to the FBS and the Big East. The conference offered no comment, but we're clearly at a "waiting for the officials to write up a statement" point in the process right now; the Big East certainly didn't deny their interest, and anonymous conference sources confirmed the invitation. If Nova wants it, it's there.
The logic here is understandable: currently, the only FBS college football program in Philadelphia is Temple, who is just terrible at football; if Villanova can bring their winning ways to the Big East, they've got a giant media market they can deliver to the conference. The Big East can probably make the invitation with a reasonable amount of confidence, having already seen such a switch work with UConn.
But if Villanova football wants to move up to the Big East, it won't be as easy as just filling out some paperwork and moving more athletic department money to the football program. They need a new stadium. Villanova Stadium only holds 12,500 fans, and FBS stadium rules require an average of 15,000 paid fans and capacity for at least 30,000. Is it really in the best interests of a school with fewer than 10,000 total students to invest the eight or nine figures in a new football stadium? That's the question Nova has to answer, and we're guessing they'll say "are you kidding yes of course build build build." Few universities get this type of opportunity to increase their visibility so suddenly--and even fewer turn the opportunity down.