Big East Report Card: Cincinnati Bearcats Pass (and Defend) with Flying Colors
The first week of the college football season is in the books. It's time to pass out grades to the Big East teams after this first test of the semester.
Fear the Bearcats. Forget about replacing 10 players on defense if you can score basically every time you have the football! Quarterback Tony Pike put up Heisman numbers against Rutgers (27-of-34, 362 yards, three TDs). The 537 yards of total offense had to make Rutgers coach Greg Schiano sick to his stomach.
Rutgers was one of four teams in Big East title talk, but it was dismantled and embarrassed by Cincinnati. Said TV commentator Brian Griese: "...lack of focus, lack of passion, and lack of execution, that's why it's 45-7 (later 45-15)."
Rutgers can now turn the helm over to freshman quarterback Tom Savage and lick its wounds with some upcoming cupcakes.
Pitt did what it was supposed to do against Youngstown State. The 38-3 win showed that freshman running back Dion Lewis will help the Panther offense. He ran for 128 yards and scored three touchdowns. A solid opening day for Pitt.
About what you might expect from the Mountaineers, although they gave up too many points in the 33-20 win over Liberty. Senior quarterback Jarrett Brown threw for 243 yards (19-of-26), and Noel Devine ran for 112 yards on 17 carries.
West Virginia: B-
UConn went on the road, which is always tougher than opening at home. The Huskies got an unimpressive 23-16 victory over Ohio U. The good news was sophomore running back Jordan Todman going for 157 yards on 25 carries. The bad news was quarterback Zach Frazer at 11-of-24 for 127 yards and two touchdowns, but three interceptions. He'll have to play better than that for his team to succeed.
USF had a heck of a time in the first quarter with Wofford's running game, but the Bulls settled down, pitched a shutout the rest of the game, got some offense from Matt Grothe (199 total yards), and found reliable running from Mo Plancher. The Bulls know they need to improve over the next two weeks. The 40-7 win was the margin it should have been.
South Florida: B
A win, is a win, is a win for Louisville, a team expected to struggle in the Big East. Sure, it was 30-10 over Indiana State, a team that won no games last season. But it's still a win, and the Cardinals are undefeated...pizza for everyone!
The Orange and rookie quarterback Greg Paulus snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Minnesota. The game was there for the Orange to win, and a huge home crowd was trying to get them over the hump. Alas, Paulus tried to force a pass into triple coverage in the end zone in overtime, and that spelled doom for the Orange. Coach K would have ripped him a new one.
Still, Paulus was effective early with the short passing game and will surely get better as the season progresses. But the 23-20 loss to the Golden Gophers could have and perhaps should have been an upset win for Doug Marrone's debut.
There you have it—your first week of grades from professor Tom. The teams are back at practice this week, and we'll see you in a day or so for the entrees, appetizers, and cupcakes for Saturday!
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