In a League Without a Favorite, the Cincinnati Bearcats Made an Early Statement

Paul SieversAnalyst ISeptember 7, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 07:  Tony Pike #15 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates a touchdown against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on September 7, 2009 in Piscataway, New Jersey.   by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

If you're normal and were at a barbecue or a pool party on Labor Day instead of cooped up inside watching college football, you missed a dominant performance by the Cincinnati Bearcats, who routed Rutgers 47-15 in Piscataway, N.J.

Tony Pike was Tony Pike, going 27-of-34 for 362 yards and three TDs to go along with a sweet handlebar mustache for Cincinnati. Bearcats' coach Brian Kelly's game plan was Brian Kelly-esque and this team was prepared the way Brian Kelly teams are usually prepared. They were able to neutralize a pretty intimidating crowd in a newly expanded stadium as they executed flawlessly for 60 minutes.

After an off-season spent wondering a) how did Cincy won the Big East and b) how to replace 10 defensive starters, we all missed the big picture. The big picture is that teams that are well-coached and well-quarterbacked can get away with other deficiencies.

Am I ready to hand Cincy their tickets back to a BCS bowl game? Of course not. There's still a lot of football to be played and Rutgers' offensive game plan today could best be described as uninventive.

What I am ready to do is call Cincy the early favorite to get back to a BCS game. None of the other six teams could have gone into Jersey and done what the Bearcats did today.

As of right now, they are the best team in the Big East and if the national pollsters don't think they're one of the 25 best teams in America, we need new people voting on these things.

As a Pitt fan, I am circling Dec. 5, the date the Bearcats come to Heinz Field. Every other Big East fan should be circling the day their team plays Brian Kelly's boys as well.

It's probably too early to judge, but based on this small sample it appears as if the road to the Big East title is going to go through Cincinnati.

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