Joe Perez: Parity plagues Big East
With each passing week, the Big East landscape becomes more and more unclear.
Only one team (South Florida) is ranked and several others (West Virginia, UConn, Louisville and Pittsburgh) are just on the outside looking in on the top 25 polls.
Rutgers’ win over Pittsburgh, plus UConn’s drubbing against Cincinnati only served to muddle the picture.
“It’s pretty interesting, we were working in our room (Sunday) and the ACC and the Big East are fairly similar this year in that everybody’s doing it and everybody’s knocking each other off,” Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe said. “It’s going to be a stretch run to the finish in the month of November and into December.”
It’s become a conference where every week each team finds itself potentially playing for a shot at the conference title and a spot in a Bowl Championship Series game
Most teams are approaching the two-thirds mark to their season or have just reached that point. Because of the weekly pounding teams are taking, the conference has played into the perception of inferiority.
A greater concern is the loss of potential bowl games in the event that several teams struggled down the stretch and fail to reach bowl eligibility. A worse-case scenario is that when the BCS contract is renegotiated following this season, the Big East is kept out of the equation. Six teams have at least five wins and a seventh, Rutgers, may be the hottest team in the conference.
Meanwhile, West Virginia, which travels to UConn Saturday, is the only team undefeated (2-0) in conference play.
“Look at our past track record,” West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. “Look at the past few years of bowls with the Big East. One year we were 5-0, he next year we were 3-2, there was the Sugar Bowl win we had against Georgia, that’s 9-2 in the last 11 bowl games we played. So you’re darn right we deserve a BSC (bowl) and always will. That’s just strong conference play.”
Pitt’s loss to Rutgers sapped any momentum the Panthers had built in recent weeks as they returned to the polls. As concerned as Pitt may be about getting back on track this week against Notre Dame, coach Dave Wanstedt is hoping quarterback Bill Stull will be on the field.
Stull sustained neck and head injuries in Pitt’s defeat. He was kept overnight at a Pittsburgh hospital.
“He was at practice (Sunday),” Wannstedt said. “We’re just going to take him day-to-day.”
UConn redshirt freshman kicker Dave Teggart, made his first start a memorable one. Teggart, the Big East’s Special Teams Player of the Week, leads the latest batch of standouts.
Teggart kicked four field goals, including a 47-yarder into the wind, plus four PATs in UConn’s win over Cincinatti.
Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel’s six touchdowns on 14-of-21 passing for 361 yards landed the Scarlet Knight Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Louisville defensive tackle Adrian Grady claimed the Defensive Player of the Week nod. Grady helped lead the Cardinals’ defense in holding the Bulls to eight yards rushing. He registered seven tackles — 2 1⁄2 for a loss — plus two sacks.
Contact Joe Perez at email@example.com.