Big East Blues

What is going on with the Big East? Not much, that's for sure.

OK, that's it. I've seen enough. I know it's not even three weeks into the season, but honestly, I'm almost to the point where I can't stand to watch any more Big East "football". Last night's thrashing of Rutgers by an upstart North Carolina team might have been the straw that broke this camel's back.

The Scarlet Knights started the season with two nationally televised home games. Not just nationally televised games, but games at exclusive, only-game-in-town time slots that meant college football junkies were watching Greg Schiano's squad without interruption. You know, channel changer out of reach, sandwich and cold beer close by. No other games on TV, no reason to leave the couch.

The result? Two gigantic eggs laid.

Both times, the wood choppers had the axe turned the wrong way. And the result? Laughable blowouts in the soon-to-be-renovated Rutgers Stadium. (By the way, is it too late to put the kibosh on those plans?)

As Seinfeld attorney Jackie Chiles would say, "This is the most public yet of my many embarrassments."

Yes, it looks as though the Rutgers of old is making an encore appearance in 2008. Oh, maybe they'll right the ship. Nothing sends a message of "don't panic, we're fine" like back-to-back wins over Navy and the always-powerful Morgan State Bears.

Then again, this could be the year the Knights get over the proverbial hump and into a BCS game. After all, have you seen the rest of the conference? Yikes.

In Pittsburgh, home of the Panthers, this was supposed to be the year – again – that Pitt football returned to prominence. And why shouldn't it be? They've won a total of one big, meaningful game over the past four years. Yes, I know, it was a huge win for the Panthers last December when they single-handedly prevented their archrival from playing in the BCS title game. But after that game, the Panthers waved goodbye to most of their offensive line.

They've also been the victim – and this isn't their fault – of unrealistic expectations. Just because they beat the Mountaineers last December doesn't warrant a preseason top 25 ranking, especially with the aforementioned holes in the trenches and the fact that they only won FIVE GAMES a year ago. Think about it: how often to teams that haven't been to bowl games in four years get ranked in the preseason? Not that often. And there's a good reason for that.

So when the Panthers fell in their season lid lifter to Bowling Green, everyone cried foul over Pitt's preseason ranking. Of course the national pundits and media types who were calling Pitt overrated after its loss were the same one proclaiming their golden arrival just weeks earlier.

Elsewhere in the conference, the Connecticut Huskies own the league's marquee 2008 win to this point by virtue of their 12-9 shootout win over Temple last Saturday in overtime. That's a distinction on par with Hoover holding the highest GPA in the Delta House.

Cincinnati? The only blip they've made on the radar screen has been Ben Mauk's Rasputin-like effort in trying to gain a sixth year of eligibility. Mauk may have finally run out of luck earlier this week just days after his Bearcats were thrashed by Oklahoma. To add injury to insult, starting QB Dustin Grutza suffered a nasty ankle injury that will keep him on the shelf for at least two months.

All in all, the Bearcats are probably still one of the conference's top three teams, but replicating the success of last season just got a lot harder with one of their most experienced players going down to injury.

South Florida needed overtime to beat in-state foe UCF. A win tonight over Kansas on national television would restore some of the conference's dignity, but against the Golden Knights, USF hardly looked like a team that's ready to compete against a defending Orange Bowl champion.

Then again, they do have a national audience to showcase their program in front of. Of course, so did Rutgers…twice.

Finally, there is Syracuse, the league's unanimous last-place pick before the season. I would say that head coach Greg Robinson needs to prep his lengthy resume, but would it not be best to just leave his last four seasons off it altogether? Robinson's record at SU currently stands at seven wins, 30 losses, including last weekend's two-touchdown blowout in the Carrier Dome to Akron. AKRON!

Luckily for the Orange, the heat under Robinson's seat is nearing a boiling point. A bad showing against Penn State this weekend with dozens of Cuse legends in attendance for the Orange Carpet premier of "The Express" might be enough for a change.

So Mountaineer fans, don't worry about that loss to ECU last weekend. Yes, it was ugly, but it doesn't do anything to keep WVU out of the Big East race. The conference championship is there for the taking.

The question is, does anybody want it?


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