If Louisville is playing with a chip on its shoulder, Cardinals coach Charlie Strong has to be pleased with the results.
Louisville is the lowest ranked undefeated team at No. 11 in the Associated Press top 25, two spots behind a two-loss LSU. The other five undefeated teams -- Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and Ohio State -- are all in the top five.
Even an undefeated Big East champion may have difficulty cracking the top five, especially one whose best non-conference win is by 5 over North Carolina at home. For now, Louisville will just have to settle for dominating performances against its conference opponents, such as this week’s 45-17 win over Temple.
While Louisville keeps winning, other Big East teams had an eventful weekend, at least at the quarterback position. USF four-year starter B.J. Daniels will miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle, and Cincinnati coach Butch Jones may be mulling a change of his own at quarterback.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville -- A week after setting a career high with 416 passing yards against Cincinnati, Bridgewater set a career-best with five touchdown passes against Temple. The sophomore is averaging 325 passing yards per game in Big East play while throwing 10 touchdowns and one interception in four conference games.
2. George Winn, Cincinnati --Winn rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries against Syracuse on Saturday, adding a 37-yard touchdown pass to boot. Winn is averaging 128.3 rushing yards in Big East games, leading the conference by nearly 20 yards per game.
3. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- Jamison’s workload has eased a bit in the last two games, partially because Rutgers trailed at halftime in the win over Temple and loss to Kent State. Although Jamison failed to hit the 100-yard mark in two of the last three games, he has topped 80 yards rushing in each of the last two contests.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers -- Greene will have a chance to shine against Army’s option offense this week. Greene leads Rutgers in tackles (74) and sacks (5.5) and leads the Big East in forced fumbles (five).
2. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut -- Connecticut rebounded from allowing 40 points to Syracuse two weeks ago to hold USF to 13 on the road. Smallwood leads the Big East in tackles for a loss (13) and is second in tackles (91).
3. Greg Blair, Cincinnati -- The senior leads the Big East in tackles (83) to go with 4.5 tackles for a loss, two interceptions and four pass breakups. His 10 tackles Saturday against Syracuse gave him double-digit tackles for the third consecutive game.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. Charlie Strong, Louisville --Strong has the Cardinals off to a 9-0 start, the best in school history. The win over Temple on Saturday topped Louisville’s 8-0 start in 2008 under Bobby Petrino. The Cardinals are 9-1 in their last 10 Big East games and 14-2 since starting the 2011 season 2-4.
2. Kyle Flood, Rutgers -- Here’s where Flood will be challenged most. Not only is his team bruised from a turnover-laden loss to Kent State, Rutgers will go three weeks between conference games before facing Cincinnati on Nov. 17. The undefeated record is gone, but the program’s first Big East title remains in reach.
3. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- The Bearcats snapped out of a two-game losing streak to defeat Syracuse 35-24, but Jones now has a quarterback quandary on his hands after benching Munchie Legaux in the third quarter against Syracuse.
Big East Post-Week 10 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (9-0, 4-0)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 10 result: Beat Temple 45-17
Temple returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but that was one of the few momentum swings in the Owls' favor. The game was tied at 17 early in the second quarter, but once Louisville got going, Temple had no chance. The Cardinals scored on seven of 10 possessions (six touchdowns, one field goal) through the first three quarters to put the Owls away. The Cardinals have topped 500 yards in the last two games and average 7.2 yards per play in Big East games. The next best is Cincinnati at 6.2.
This week: at Syracuse
2. Rutgers (7-1, 4-0)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 10 result: Off
The Scarlet Knights have had a week to simmer over the 35-23 loss to Kent State, but on the bright side for Rutgers, the defense has had an extra week to prepare for Army’s option offense. Not that Rutgers may need much help -- the Scarlet Knights have won eight in a row against Army by an average score of 32-11. After not allowing a team to rush for 100 yards in the first six games, Rutgers has allowed 343 rushing yards the last two games.
This week: Army
3. Cincinnati (6-2, 2-1)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 10 result:Beat Syracuse 35-24
After saying earlier last week he wouldn’t flinch when it came to sticking with starting quarterback Munchie Legaux, Coach Butch Jones “went with the gut” in replacing Legaux with senior Brendon Kay in the third quarter. Jones’ gut was right as Kay led two scoring drives and completed 3 of 3 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback change contributed win Saturday, but it will lead to questions this week leading up to a road trip to Temple. Legaux’s ability has been apparent all season, but he’s been inconsistent. He’s struggled to complete half his passes (he went 11 of 22 against Syracuse), and he’s been turnover prone (he threw an interception and a near-pick six Saturday, which caused him to be benched). Aside from the quarterback situation, running back George Winn had a career day with 165 yards on 30 carries and four total touchdowns.
This week: at Temple
4. Pittsburgh (4-5, 1-3)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 10 result: Lost to Notre Dame 29-26 in triple overtime
Although Pittsburgh failed to pull off the upset of the season with a 29-26 loss in triple overtime to Notre Dame, the Panthers aren’t the same team that lost to Youngstown State and Cincinnati in the first two games. The Panthers have put more on the shoulders of veteran running back Ray Graham, who rushed for 172 yards and a touchdown against the Irish. On his own, Graham rushed for more yards on the Notre Dame defense than any team this season. It was also his highest rushing total since rushing for 226 yards against USF on Sept. 29, 2011. A bowl game remains a possibility, but Pitt is going to need to win at least one game on the road with its final three games at Connecticut, vs. Rutgers at home and at USF.
This week: at Connecticut (Friday)
5. Syracuse (4-4, 1-3)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 10 result: Lost 35-24 to Cincinnati
The maddening season for Syracuse continued as the Orange couldn’t get out of its own way against Cincinnati. The Bearcats had their execution issues, but the Orange had more: Syracuse lost two fumbles, had a 25-yard field goal blocked, missed a 42-yarder and dropped a potential pick six. This has been a trend for a team that leads the Big East in total offense but ranks only fourth in scoring. The difference is more stark on a national level: Syracuse averages 463.8 yards per game (26th nationally), but averages only 26.4 points per game (74th).
This week: Louisville
6. USF (3-6, 1-4)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 10 result: Beat Connecticut 13-6
This is the kind of two-year stretch it’s been for USF: The Bulls ended a six-game losing streak, finally closed out a game in the fourth quarter and picked up their first two interceptions of the season. But a dose of bad news followed the game with the announcement four-year starting quarterback B.J. Daniels will miss the remainder of the season with broken ankle. In an odd bit of symmetry, Daniels ascended to the starting quarterback job after a season-ending to senior Matt Grothe, making his first career start on the road against Florida State. Redshirt freshman Matt Floyd will make his first career start against another of the Sunshine State’s major programs in Miami in two weeks.
This week: Off
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 10 result: Lost to Louisville 45-17
After a 2-0 start, Temple is starting to look more like a team struggling to find its footing at the Big East level. In the Owls’ last three loses, they’ve been outscored 127-44. With four turnovers against Louisville (including two fumbles from quarterback Chris Coyer), Temple is minus-8 in turnover margin the last four games. Unless Temple can follow through on aspirations to schedule a December game at Hawaii, the Owls must sweep Cincinnati, Army and Syracuse to become bowl eligible.
This week: Cincinnati
8. Connecticut (3-6, 0-4)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 10 result: Lost to USF 13-6
After losing 13-6 to USF, Connecticut is going to have an uphill climb to win even one Big East game this season with Pittsburgh, Louisville and Cincinnati on the remaining schedule. The offense emerged from an off week as ineffective as it had all season. The Huskies failed to score a touchdown, were sacked three times and turned the ball over on each of its final three possessions to end a comeback bid. During this four-game losing streak, UConn has accounted for three offensive touchdowns (three passing, none rushing) and 11 turnovers (seven interceptions, four fumbles).
This week: Pittsburgh (Friday)
By David Fox
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