The BIG EAST is one of only three conferences (Big Ten, SEC) to have two teams ranked in the top 10. West Virginia is ranked fourth in the Associated Press and USA Today Polls released on Sept. 24, while Louisville is ranked eighth in both polls. Rutgers also moved into the top 25 this week after improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1980. The Scarlet Knights are 23rd in both of this week's polls. Rutgers was last ranked (17th) in the final AP Poll in 1976, after finishing the season 11-0.
The last time the BIG EAST had three teams ranked was in the final polls of the 2004 season when Pittsburgh was 19th in the Associated Press Poll and 20th in the USA Today/ESPN Poll, West Virginia was ranked 23rd by USA Today/ ESPN and Boston College was ranked 25th by AP. One season earlier, the BIG EAST had four teams ranked in the Associated Press Poll released on Nov. 23, 2003 – Miami (No. 10), Pittsburgh (No. 20), Virginia Tech (No. 21) and West Virginia (No. 24). Miami (10th), Virginia Tech (20th) and Pittsburgh (21st) were also ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Poll that same week.
Making A Mark
BIG EAST teams are currently 22-7 (.759) versus non-conference opponents this season, including 9-7 against teams from other charter BCS conferences. The BIG EAST went 6-2 in week 4, outscoring its opponents by a combined 226-86 margin. Four league squads held their opponents to 10 points or less.
Week Four Highlights
Three BIG EAST teams remained undefeated after week 4. Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia are all 4-0. It is the first time that the Scarlet Knights have gone 4-0 since 1980. The Mountaineers are 4-0 for the third straight year. The Cardinals are 4-0 for the third time in the last four seasons.
Three running backs rushed for 100 or more yards in week 4. Connecticut's Terry Caulley ran for 152 yards, marking the 12th time in his career and the first time in ‘06 that he has surpassed the 100-yard mark. Rutgers' Ray Rice posted 105 yards and three scores. It was Rice's ninth career 100-yard game and his fourth of the season. Syracuse's Curtis Brinkley registered his first career 100-yard game, recording 108 yards and one score.
Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko was nearly perfect in week 4 versus The Citadel. Palko completed 15-of-17 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns.
• The BIG EAST Conference possesses some of the nation's most potent offensive weapons. Pittsburgh QB Tyler Palko is the nation's leader in passing efficiency (187.3) and ranks sixth in total offense (293.5).
Rutgers RB Ray Rice is fourth nationally in rushing (151.0), while West Virginia RB Steve Slaton is sixth (145.8). Rice is also tied for third in scoring (13.5). In addition, Pitt wideout Derek Kinder leads the nation in receiving yards (445).
A number of conference defensive players are also ranked among the NCAA statistical leaders. UConn linebacker Donta Moore is tops in the nation in tackles for loss (2.50), while Syracuse defensive end Jameel McClain is second nationally in sacks (1.5) and Pittsburgh linebacker H.B. Blades is third in tackles (11.8).
The success of BIG EAST teams on the field shows on the national leaderboard. Offensively, Louisville leads the nation in both scoring (44.0) and total offense (523.0), while West Virginia ranks third in scoring offense (41.5). In addition, the league has three teams in the top 10 in rushing – number three West Virginia (299.8), number four UConn (267.4) and number seven Louisville (249.5).
Defensively, Rutgers is tied for second in turnovers gained (13), ranks fourth in the nation in total defense (205.0) and fifth in scoring defense (7.5). Also, Syracuse is tied for first in sacks per game (4.75), Louisville is sixth in rushing defense and Connecticut is ninth in pass defense (132.3).