League Focus

It is the time of year when many college football fans are beginning to discuss the BCS, and which teams deserve bids.

While much of the focus is on leagues that could place a team in the national championship game, there's also the matter of filling out the rest of the BCS bowl slots. The fight for those spots, such as the one that goes to the Big East champion, will be no less heated than the race for number one.

This past weekend the Big East saw some interesting shake-ups as Rutgers went on the road and defeated 17th-ranked Pittsburgh by 20 points. Quarterback Mike Teel threw for six touchdowns against the Panthers in what head coach Dave Wannstedt called "the worst defensive performance I have seen in my tenure." Rutgers also knocked off Connecticut in the previous week and currently sit at 2-2 in the league.

South Florida, one of the pre-season favorites, also fell this weekend to Louisville. The Cardinals picked up their first in conference victory of the season, while South Florida fell to 1-2. While those results have some looking at the league with a jaded view, WVU head coach Bill Stewart thinks they point in another direction. He also dismisses the notion that the Big East is a lesser league that should have its automatic bid reviewed, if not removed.

"Every single weekend someone is knocking someone else off, and that is just strong conference play," That includes a string of three consecutive BCS bowl wins by the league.

The Mountaineers are the only undefeated team in the Big East, but the toughest part of their schedule is still ahead of them. Just two weeks ago their victory over Rutgers at home seemed insignificant, but now, after victories over Pittsburgh and Connecticut, that win looks better for WVU.

This weekend West Virginia travels to Hartford to take on Connecticut, which is coming off a very impressive victory over Cincinnati.

"Randy Edsall has that team playing well and we know they are going to give us a tough game," Stewart said. Stewart said that he watched film of the Cincinnati game and took note of how hard Connecticut hit and how well they executed on defense.

The Huskies also boast one of the most talented runners in the country in Donald Brown. Brown currently leads the nation in rushing with 1,324 yards on 235 carries to go along with 14 touchdowns. He combines strong inside running with a quick burst that powers him through tackles and into the open field, and he will be the toughest challenge to date for West Virginia's excellent rushing defense.

"I have been able to coach a lot of talented backs in my career and Donald Brown is one of the best I have seen," Stewart said.

While the Big East Conference may lack national star power this year, the competitiveness inside the league can't be overlooked.

"We cannot look ahead on our schedule," Stewart noted. "Right now we are on week eight, and that is the most important thing."


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