Louisville, Rutgers sit atop Big East power rankings
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 00:09
1. Louisville (3-0): Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has officially thrown his name into Heisman contention. Throwing five touchdown passes, no interceptions and having a 182.2 QB rating tends to do that–not to mention spearheading a dangerous Louisville offense that has dropped 30 points or more on its last three opponents. Their next foe, FIU and their 111th ranked defense, doesn’t seem likely to stop the No. 20 ranked Cardinal train from going 4-0 and possibly getting one step closer to a BCS championship berth.
2. Rutgers (3-0): The No. 23 ranked Scarlet Knights have scored at least 23 points on their last three opponents, while having their defense allow an average of only 8.3 points. However, they now face a tough test in Arkansas, who may not only have starting quarterback Tyler Wilson back, but will be more than ready to rebound from being trounced 52-0 by No. 1 ranked Alabama. Nonetheless, one can’t discount that Jawan Jamison, a young prospect that brings back memories of Ray Rice, will be more ready than ever, especially against an Arkansas defense that just allowed three rushing touchdowns and 225 yards on the ground.
3. Cincinnati (2-0): What a year so far for senior running back George Winn, having already rushed 35 times for 242 yards this season–in all of last season, he ran only 40 times for 212 yards. He and the Bearcats, however, face a tough test in the previously Top 25 ranked Virginia Tech, who is still reeling off an upset from Pittsburgh.
4. Connecticut (2-1): Nobody questions the Husky D. Even after allowing 21 points to Maryland in the Epsell Bowl, they are still ranked No. 11 in overall defense. The problem is quarterback Chandler Whitmer’s five interceptions, no touchdown passes and four sacks in three games. Add in an offensive line that has been under pressure for being pummeled all year, and an underwhelming season from running back Lyle McCombs, and there is a genuine cause for concern for UConn, especially with a Week 6 matchup against the Scarlet Knights’ dreaded defense looming over them.
5. South Florida (2-1): USF just can’t beat the Scarlet Knights, who have beaten them six times in their last seven meetings. After winning with relative ease against their last two opponents, the Bulls couldn’t get anything going in the passing game, effectively neutralizing their offense and laying the blueprint for other teams to follow. Most concerning point for USF: the 38 minutes they allowed Rutgers to have in time of possession. Not a good sign against No. 14 ranked rushing team, Ball State coming up.
6. Temple (1-1): Temple has looked decently in both their games, but most impressive about their team is their running back, senior Matt Brown, who has rushed 29 times for 176 yards, which would put him on pace for his best season next. Look for Temple to try to get him involved once more against Penn State and their stingy No. 28 ranked defense, in a physical game that should feature a lot of running the ball and defense.
7. Pittsburgh (1-2): How about that for an upset? After stumbling out of the gate in their first two games and losing by an average of 17 points to their opponents, they stifled the previously ranked No. 13 Virginia Tech to a tune of 35-18. Pittsburgh led the Hokies 21-0 with 13 minutes to go in the 2nd quarter before easing off the gas pedal a bit, but there was no doubt who was in control of the game. “Gimme” games in the following weeks against Garner-Webb and Syracuse should prepare them for a showdown against conference leader Louisville.
8. Syracuse (1-2): Their offense isn’t the problem here. Ryan Nassib has thrown for 1139 yards, the most passing yards in the Big East, and second most yards in the entire nation. His receivers, Marcus Sales and Jarrod West, have combined for an ungodly 38 receptions and 561 yards, even more than Pittsburgh’s receiving duo. The issue with Syracuse remains their porous defense, which has allowed even more points¬–33.7 PPG on average. They were able to beat a lowly ranked Stony Brook football team, but their Orange embarrassment of a defense won’t be covered against a brutal three-week stretch against Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Rutgers. Ouch.
Western Michigan, Connecticut’s next opponent, led by quarterback Alex Carder, has a highflying passing offense and is ranked No. 25 in the nation. It’ll be interesting to see how the Husky defense does against the toughest offense they’ve faced so far. However, if Connecticut wants to win this game and prove that they’re a real contender for the Big East crown, they need to click on offense and expose a Bronco defense that has allowed 24.3 points per game. If running back Lyle McCombs can wear down Western Michigan’s defensive line and if Chandler Whitmer can keep his mistakes low, Connecticut should be able to win this one in a hard nose, possession based battle.