Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Big East Week in Review


The Mets are collapsing, the Yankees are fighting for third place and the Jets lost to the Pats...again. Now you can add the starts to Rutgers’ and Syracuse’s seasons to the list of how bad it is to be a sports fan in the New York/Jersey area. With a new movie premiere (The Express) and a renewed rivalry, the spotlight shined on Syracuse and it didn't look good.

The Orange took on Penn State this week in a game that junior defensive tackle Arthur Jones said, “is the biggest of our season, so far”.

On the second play of the game, Jones recovered a fumble in Penn State territory. Syracuse then returned the favor, giving the ball back when tailback Curtis Brinkley couldn't field a backward pass from Cameron Dantley. On the very next play, PSU’s Darryl Clark hit receiver Jordan Norwood for a 55-yard touchdown across the middle and the Nittany Lions never looked back.

Norwood finished the game with five receptions for 113 yards. He and fellow wide out Deon Butler caught two first half touchdowns. Butler snagged seven passes for 110 yards. Quarterbacks Clark and Pat Devlin shared a lot of the snaps, and both threw for over 100 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Syracuse, who relies on their running game's productivity, was only able to muster up 49 total rushing yards. Their passing game was non-existent and the Orange only converted two of seventeen third downs. The woes continued for beleaguered coach, Greg Robinson, who looked more frustrated and befuddled than ever in the 55-13 loss.

On a side note, the Carrier Dome faithful brutally booed Penn State and Joe Paterno for running up the score in the second quarter. Up 35-0 with 45 seconds left in the half, Penn State used their timeouts to stop the clock to get the ball back for another score. The timeouts were a questionable decision and in fact, Penn State fumbled the punt and gave Syracuse the ball with great field position. Because the Orange cannot do anything right, the teams ended up swapping field goals.

Rutgers was beaten on the big play multiple times in their 44-12 loss to North Carolina—their defensive backs are still trying to find where Brandon Tate is lined up. The Scarlet Knight’s quarterback, Ryan Teel, threw three interceptions and was ineffective all night, failing to convert on any third downs the entire game. With a performance like that, Rutgers had little chance to win. T.J Yates looked dominant at times, throwing for 221 yards and three touchdown passes. Rutgers’ third quarter resembled something from the pre-Greg Schiano era. The Scarlet Knights are desperate for a victory this week at Navy.

The boys from the “Constitution State” were the tri-state saviors. Connecticut’s tailback Donald Brown is off to a hot start, making himself a top candidate for Big East Player of the Year. In UConn's 49-10 destruction of Virginia, Brown led all ball carriers with 206 yards and three touchdowns. Brown's 65-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was his eighth of the season, ranking him second in the nation, one behind Michigan State's Javon Ringer. The junior tailback was the star of the game, rushing for 10.3 yards a carry and snagging five passes for 32 yards.

The Huskies dominated from the outset, scoring touchdowns on their first four possessions. UConn signal caller Tyler Lorenzen was very efficient, completing 13 of his 15 passes, while the Huskies’ defense shut down the run from the beginning and was able to force two interceptions. With last week's escape at Temple and this week’s blowout over Virginia, Connecticut is 3-0 and quietly have become a contender to win the conference. With a home game versus Baylor and three straight road games, keep Connecticut and Donald Brown on your radar and see if they can make a major push.