Thursday, November 19, 2009

Big East Power Rankings & Preview Week 12


1. Cincinnati Bearcats 10-0, (6-0): Last week: Won vs. West Virginia 24-21 - Survive and advance. It wasn’t exactly the most impressive victory, but the Bearcats found away to shake off two early turnovers by running the football successfully, and the defense stepping up when it counted. Big days for sophomore running back Isaiah Pead and Andre Revels. Pead rushed for a career-high 175 yards averaging an outstanding 9.7 yards a carry, meanwhile senior linebacker Revels continues to be one of the fiercest tacklers in the conference, he recorded 13 total in the game.

Up next: Idle - Decisions, decisions, decisions. Certainly the offensive playbook can be more diverse with quarterback Zach Collaros in the game because his running ability adds a different dimension. Plus, his threat alone has contributed to recent big games by Bearcat tailbacks. However, Tony Pike looks as if he will be healthy and ready to play in the final two contests. With a week off to think about it, the question remains will head coach Brian Kelly go with the strong-armed Pike, choose Collaros’ duel threat ability or will he dance with the devil and use the two-quarterback system?

2. Pittsburgh 9-1, (5-0): Last Week: Won vs. Notre Dame 27-22 -
You may not realize it by looking at the score but Pittsburgh was in control of this game from the start. The defense played a fantastic first half holding Jimmy Clausen and the Irish offense to just field goal. And offensively the stars shined on primetime once again, freshman Dion Lewis rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown and receiver Jonathon Baldwin earned himself Big East Player of the Week honors for his five-catch, 142-yard performance.

Up Next: Idle - Why on a critical third down with timeouts remaining and up only five, is Bill Stull rushing to snap the ball before the play clock runs out rather than using a TO? With a week off it’s not just the players that have to practice, because if they don’t have things all together they can say good-bye to the BCS.

3. West Virginia 7-3, (3-2): Last week: Lost at Cincinnati 24-21 - It was a real tough loss to swallow, a call here, a caught pass there and WVU easily they could have come out victorious. Quarterback Jarrett Brown was efficient completing 68 percent of his passes, and it was great to see a glimpse of what could be a future into Mountaineer football when freshman Ryan Clarke busted loose for a big 37-yard touchdown run. But it’s tough for this team to win when Noel Devine is not 100 percent.

Up next: Idle - An opportunity to get Devine healthy. If he does the junior could add on to his legacy when the Panthers come into town.

4. Rutgers 7-2, (2-2): Last week: Won vs. South Florida 31-0 - Talk about domination. It may be hard to believe but this score could have been worse, the Scarlet Knights could have dropped a 50-spot on the Bulls. The Rutgers defensive line is what anchored the blowout. They recorded seven sacks and six quarterback hurries. Big nights for defensive ends George Johnson and Antonio Lowery. Johnson, who is quietly having a superb senior season, had three tackles for losses and Lowery forced a fumble to go with his three tackles for a loss.

Up Next: at Syracuse - Expect more the same. This young Rutgers team is rolling and there’s not much a dismantled Syracuse squad can do about it. The mismatch lies when the Orange offense is on the field: they’ve given up 25 sacks this season and that number is sure to grow after facing this pass rush. Look for Rutgers' wide outs Mohamed Sanu and Tim Brown to break free once or twice for big scores and solidify the road win. Prediction: Rutgers 29, Syracuse 14

5. South Florida Bulls 6-3, (2-3): Last week: Lost at Rutgers 31-0 - B.J Daniels
had his worst game of the season. He only completed 7-of-17 passes, threw two dreadful interceptions and was held to 11 yards rushing. An understandable game from the freshman considering how badly his offensive line protected him. Add three more turnovers and this game got out of reach early.

Up Next: At Louisville - When the Bulls are clicking they look like they could be a serious conference contender, but in their two blowout losses to Pittsburgh and Rutgers they’re offense staggered so badly they played as if they didn’t even deserve to play in a bowl game. Nevertheless, this week has blowout written all over it. The one thing they do consistently well is rush the quarterback, and against a team that has already given up a remarkable 32 sacks a shutout could be in the works. Prediction: South Florida 30, Louisville 10

6.Connecticut 4-5, (1-4): Last week: Idle - The Huskies are still two wins away from becoming bowl eligible, considering they finish the season at home against Syracuse, a win over Notre Dame on the road won’t only be a memorable moment for the program but a leap closer to another post-season.

Up Next: at Notre Dame - It’s not a secret that the Irish like to throw the ball, and Connecticut's pass defense has struggled giving up an average of 232 yards a game through the air. What they can do successfully this week is pound the football. Their line has proved they can win the battle up front and with Jordan Todman running the football the ground game surely can keep the game close. If they win the turnover battle and prevent Golden Tate from making any big plays they should be in it with a chance to come out on top in the fourth quarter. Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Connecticut 17

7. Louisville 4-6, (1-4): Last week: Won vs. Syracuse 10-9 - Trent Guy is the MVP of this football team. Not only did his punt returns give the Cardinals good field possession numerous times during the game but his 36-yard catch was the key play made on the game-winning touchdown drive. It was Josh Chichester who caught the 15-yard touchdown delivered from Adam Froman. The 6-8 sophomore Chichester has size that’s for sure, and is a guy that could be major part of a bounce back Louisville team next year.

Up Next: vs. South Florida - This is not a good match-up for Louisville. Speed is their biggest disadvantage and it just so happens South Florida is one of the fastest teams in the Big East. Keep an eye on freshman Darius Ashley. The Bulls haven’t had a good history facing off against physical running backs. Prediction: South Florida 30, Louisville 10

8. Syracuse 3-7, (0-5): Last week: Lost at Louisville 10-9 - It may be unfair to be too harsh on a team who’s not that good to begin with and is now having to deal with injuries, stars quitting and suspensions. But there’s only one thing this team really knows how to do well...and that’s lose. It seems on a weekly basis only one player has a positive game on offense and that’s running back Delone Carter who rushed for 129 yards. If you watch the Orange then you’d know his numbers would be a whole lot better if he were breaking tackles down field rather then behind the line of scrimmage.

Up Next: vs. Rutgers - This team makes way too many unforced errors for anyone to be confident in them to get a win. Prediction: Rutgers 29, Syracuse 14

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Photos Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh, Tom Ciszak Rutgers Athletics, UConn Athletic Communications