West Virginia and Pittsburgh Both Fall; New No. 1 in The Week 4 Power Rankings?
There's really no defending the Big East this year.
What can I say? I'm a Big East guy, but even I'm beyond trying to argue for this piss-poor conference. They're not going to lose their BCS bid based on one month of football, after years of being much better than their national perception, but the conference has certainly been dreadful this year.
In Week 4, cupcakes were devoured of course, but once again league members failed to capitalize on opportunities for big wins over quality opponents. The top two teams in last week's ranking, West Virginia and Pittsburgh, played tough competition and could have made a statement for the league, but both failed to do so.
So the question is, will they remain at the top, or wallow in the embarrassment of being grouped in with the rest of the league?
No. 8: Louisville Cardinals
The Cards had a bye this week, but once again I'm tempted to move them out of the basement.
They went on the road and really gave Oregon State a game last Saturday, but fell just short of picking up the win. It was actually one of the least embarrassing games of the season so far for a Big East member, because they didn't get annihilated like everyone else seems to be doing.
But at the end of the day, they did lose. They're now 1-2, and their only victory was an unimpressive one over Eastern Kentucky.
No. 7: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
To someone with only a casual interest in college football, Rutgers' loss this week may not have looked too bad.
They played host to North Carolina, a team that once held high hopes for this season, but had those dreams cast aside when the news broke that, to put it simply, they weren't playing by the rules.
The Tar Heels entered the week 0-2 and depleted by mass suspensions, meaning the Knights essentially got to play against North Carolina's scout team.
Most of Carolina's suspensions came on the defensive side, but still Rutgers failed to play competently when they had the ball.
The running game only totaled 87 yards, on 2.4 yards per carry, and quarterback Tom Savage continued his horrid start to the year going 16-for-29 for 150 yards, two interceptions, and no touchdowns.
The offensive line has been the main problem, but perhaps it's time for Greg Schiano to start looking at other quarterbacks?
TIED-- No. 2: Cincinnati, UConn, Pittsburgh, South Florida, and Syracuse
It feels somewhat like taking the easy way out, clustering five teams together in a tie, but at this point, I firmly believe that the Big East members in the middle of the conference are indistinguishably mediocre.
I wanted to move Cincinnati up from last week's ranking, where they came in at No. 6. They hosted Oklahoma, who came in ranked No. 8 in the country and gave them a great game. They fell a bit short, but the offensive line was reminiscent of the '09 Bearcats, running up 461 yards against the Sooners' D.
They fell short, but this week may be remembered as a turning point for Butch Jones' Bearcats.
UConn beat Buffalo this week. They simply looked bad for large stretches of the game though, and it led to the benching of quarterback Zach Frazer in favor of Cody Endres.
The Huskies' offense took off from there, putting away the Bulls and assuring that UConn wouldn't make it two straight losses against MAC opponents.
On Pittsburgh, well, what's there to say about their 31-3 home loss to Miami? "Embarrassing," "unacceptable," and "fire the coach" are words and phrases that come to mind. I'm half tempted to drop them into last place just for this performance.
Tied For No. 2 Continued
USF, who leaped forward to No. 3 in last week's power ranking coming off their bye week, got back to work hosting an 0-3 Western Kentucky team.
They won, 24-12, but they didn't necessarily look good doing it.
The Bulls managed only 283 yards of total offense, and only 57 through the air. Seriously, 57 total passing yards against WKU!
B.J. Daniels went 7-11, but threw an interception and didn't manage a single touchdown pass. It begs the question; after Daniels' dreadful performance against Florida two weeks ago, has Skip Holtz given up on the passing game? If he only trusts B.J. Daniels to throw the ball 11 times against WKU, what's he going to do once they get into conference play?
And, of course, Syracuse. The 3-1 Syracuse Orange-- I haven't been able to say that since 2003.
To this 'Cuse fan, it sounds pretty good.
With their start, they would be the clear No. 2 right now, except for the fact that their three wins came against Akron, Maine and Colgate. The schedule is abnormally easy this year, but give the Orange some credit; they looked great in all three wins and could have been 4-0 right now if they'd been able to contain Jake Locker when they traveled to Washington.
In their 42-7 win over Colgate this week, Delone Carter was the star, rushing for 172 yards and four touchdowns on just 14 carries.
No. 1: West Virginia Mountaineers
To answer the earlier question; no, there will not be a new No. 1 this week.
The Mountaineers traveled to Baton Rouge this week and picked up their first loss of the season against LSU, but for this power ranking it hardly matters. West Virginia is still clearly the favorite at this point.
Geno Smith came back down to Earth, going just 14-for-29 for 119 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Even worse, Noel Devine only managed 37 yards on 14 carries against the tough LSU defense.
West Virginia won't see a defense that tough again this year though, and its own defensive performance was encouraging. LSU only managed 230 yards from scrimmage, and they scored their only offensive touchdown after West Virginia fumbled on its own 10-yard line.
A 10-yard touchdown drive and a couple of field goals were all the Tigers managed on offense all night—the difference in the game was a punt return touchdown by Patrick Peterson.