Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:40 am
Edited on: October 24, 2010 11:43 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
1. Eight teams still have a shot at BCS berth - As crazy as it sounds, the perfect storm of circumstance has brought about a wide open Big East conference race. The first major factor has been the scheduling. For the most part, each team backlogged their conference schedule. So while we are at the midpoint of the regular season, six of the eight teams in the conference are only two games into league play. Even the seemingly hapless Connecticut Huskies are a Pittsburgh upset from climbing back into the race. Knock the Big East as much as you want, but at the wide-open race will at least make each game interesting coming down the stretch.
2. Syracuse isn't flashy, but they are getting it done - After getting throttled by Pittsburgh at home, Syracuse bounced back to stun West Virginia in Morgantown. The Orange got right back to the same kind of tough football that helped them rattle off three straight wins, with aggressive defense and a solid running game. When Delone Carter left the game with a hip injury, backup running back Antwon Bailey stepped and delivered a season high 94 yards on the ground. The defense kept West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith guessing all day, disguising their coverages and blitzes to force a season high three interceptions. Syracuse hasn't put together impressive victories (particularly not scoring a point after halftime) but if they can continue to stack the W's, the Orange could find themselves bowling in 2010.
3. Tino Sunseri has arrived - After a somewhat shaky start, Sunseri has come into his own as the leader of the Panthers offense. The rushing attack has not been what it was a year ago in Dion Lewis' breakout season, but the sophomore signal caller has stepped it up through the air in conference play. After five touchdowns in the first five games, Sunseri has connected with his receivers for seven scores in the last two weeks. If he can continue to find playmaking wide receiver Jon Baldwin, like he did for 139 yards against Rutgers, Pittsburgh could be a difficult team to beat down the stretch.
4. There is some hope in Tampa for South Florida - To reiterate the earlier point, South Florida's 38-30 victory over Cincinnati on Friday kept the Bulls from falling all but out of the Big East hunt. Not only did first year head coach Skip Holtz avoid starting 0-3 in the conference, but he got the best performance of the season from quarterback B.J. Daniels. If Daniels' performance was more than just a flash in the pan, South Florida can do a lot to make up for the rough start.
Posted on: October 23, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 5:12 pm
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 1:55 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2010 1:58 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
After throwing only two interceptions in his first 196+ attempts, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has thrown three picks in the first half of Saturday's conference match up with Syracuse. The Orange have been able to capitalize on the mistakes, and lead 19-14 in Morgantown at the break. Syracuse has been unintimidated by the West Virginia defense, running right at the top ranked unit for 132 yards on the ground. The Mountaineers entered the game ranked third in scoring defense, but have not had an answer for Syracuse's rushing tandem of Delone Carter and Antwon Bailey.
Smith's interceptions have given Syracuse short fields for three scoring drives, but the Mountaineers have been able to hold them to field goals each time. If Smith can keep the ball out of the hands of the Orange, they should be able to pull back in this game. Until then though, we have an UPSET ALERT!
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: September 18, 2010 12:35 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2010 12:41 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
[UPDATE, 12:40: Maryland has recovered a West Virginia fumble at the Maryland 20. On Maryland's first play, Robinson almost threw a pick-six. Instead, it turns into a 3-and-out. Maryland is so, so bad.]
Hey, guess what? That Maryland at West Virginia game that kicked off at the top of the hour? Yeah, it's already over.
West Virginia leads 14-0 after seven minutes of gameplay, but that doesn't accurately describe how poor Maryland has looked in this game. The Mountaineers used a 50-yard scamper by Noel Devine to get into scoring position on their opening drive and got into the end zone a few snaps later.
Undaunted, Maryland responded by committing four penalties on their opening "drive," and it could have been worse; on 3rd and 28 from the 2-yard line (yeah), Terps QB Jamarr Robinson escaped a sack in the end zone only after his tackle, uh, tackled the rush end; the hold went uncalled. Maryland punted on the next snap.
West Virginia shredded Maryland's defense again on the next drive, and the second touchdown came on a pass to Tavon Austin where no Terps were within 20 yards of Austin. That is not an exaggeration. All in all, Geno Smith is 4-4 for 58 yards and two scores (both to Austin, and West Virginia averaged over 10 yards a play on their first two drives.
Oh, and Maryland just punted again. This is brutal. Do not watch this game unless you are a West Virginia fan and/or unimaginably cruel.