The de facto Big East championship game between Louisville and Rutgers has been established with the Scarlet Knights’ 10-3 win over Cincinnati on Saturday.
But that’s not going to be the big topic around the Big East in the two weeks before the game in Piscataway. The Big East may yet again be the subject of conference realignment talk as reports surfaced Saturday that Maryland is in negotiations to leave the ACC for the Big Ten, a possibility that could cause Rutgers to leave the Big East to be the Big Ten’s 14th member.
As far as developments on the field, Rutgers remains in position for its first (and only?) Big East title.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville -- The Cardinals’ bid at an undefeated season is up, but Bridgewater has been excellent the last three games with 1,164 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. Even more will be on his shoulders with leading rusher Senorise Perry out for the season.
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- Nassib continued his hot streak in a non-conference game against Missouri, passing for 385 yards and two touchdowns in Columbia. His lone interception against the Tigers was his first since Oct. 13.
3. Alec Lemon, Syracuse -- The Nassib-Lemon connection has been key to Syracuse’s turnaround this season. Lemon caught 12 passes for 244 yards with two touchdowns against Missouri, giving him 727 yards and seven touchdowns in the last five games.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers -- Greene led the way for the defense in Rutgers’ 10-3 win over Cincinnati with 11 tackles, two sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss.
2. Sio Moore, Connecticut -- Moore is two weeks removed from recording two sacks and a forced fumble against Pittsburgh. He and the UConn defense will have their work cut out for them in the next two weeks against Louisville and Cincinnati.
3. Logan Ryan, Rutgers -- Ryan anchors the standout Rutgers’ secondary with four interceptions and 13 pass breakups. Ryan picked up an interception at Rutgers‘ 3 to turn back a Cincinnati scoring chance early.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. Kyle Flood, Rutgers -- Flood has done in one season Greg Schiano never did in building the Rutgers program to relevance. The Scarlet Knights are off to a 5-0 start in conference play and have a chance to deliver a Big East title and a BCS bid for the first time in school history.
2. Charlie Strong, Louisville -- A BCS bid remains in sight for the Cardinals. After an off week, Strong will try to repair a defense that flopped against Syracuse. This week’s opponent, UConn, won’t provide much of a test downfield for Louisville, but Rutgers could in the finale.
3. Doug Marrone, Syracuse -- The Syracuse alum has gone from a hot seat candidate to doing one of the better coaching jobs in the league over the second half of the season. Once inconsistent, Syracuse has won four of the last five to become bowl eligible.
Big East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
1. Rutgers (9-1, 5-0)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 12 result: Rutgers becomes the first team not named Louisville to take the top spot in the Big East power rankings thanks to a dominating defensive performance against Cincinnati. The Bearcats rushed for a season-low 90 yards, and Brendon Kay threw two interceptions against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights still have lingering concerns on offense with two red zone interceptions and a missed field goal. With Jawan Jamison hobbled, however, sophomore Savon Huggins delivered on the promise he showed as a recruit by rushing for 179 yards on 41 carries.
This week: at Pittsburgh
2. Louisville (9-1, 4-1)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 12 result: Off
The off week may have come at a good time for Louisville. Several weeks of close calls finally caught up to the Cardinals in a 45-26 loss to Nov. 10. Louisville will face Connecticut on Saturday and then have a five-day turnaround for the Big East title at Rutgers. The Cardinals’ two-man show at running back is down to Jeremy Wright (680 yards, nine touchdowns) after a season-ending injury to Senorise Perry against Syracuse.
This week: Connecticut
3. Syracuse (6-5, 4-2)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 12 result: Beat Missouri 31-27
Wildly inconsistent to start the season, Syracuse has settled into a rhythm with four wins in the last five games, including two road wins (USF and Missouri) and a victory over undefeated Louisville. Ryan Nassib led another fourth-quarter comeback with a 17-yard pass to Alec Lemon in the final 17 seconds to wrap up a 21-point fourth quarter. Syracuse is bowl eligible for the second time under Doug Marrone and could be in line for an eight-win season with the Orange can defeat Temple and then win a bowl game.
This week: at Temple (Friday)
4. Cincinnati (7-3, 3-2)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 12 result: Lost to Rutgers 10-3
Yet again, Cincinnati couldn’t find away to crack the Rutgers defense. For the second consecutive year, the Bearcats managed just a field goal against the Scarlet Knights. Cincinnati changed quarterbacks two weeks ago, but the Bearcats ended up with similar results with two interceptions on 17-of-31 passing from Brendon Kay. Even George Winn, the rock of the Cincinnati defense, was stymied for 46 yards. With the loss, Cincinnati lost a slim chance to reach a BCS game.
This week: USF (Friday)
5. Pittsburgh (4-6, 1-4)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 12 result: Off
Pittsburgh is coming off an open date after two deflating losses -- one in triple overtime against Notre Dame and an upset by Connecticut. The UConn loss may be the most damaging to Pitt’s bowl hopes as the 4-6 Panthers face Big East-leading Rutgers this week in a game that could eliminate Pitt from the postseason. Interestingly, Pitt’s season-opening loss to Youngstown State means nothing for the Panthers’ bowl eligibility as Pitt defeated a second FCS team, Gardner-Webb, on Sept. 22. Only one win over an FCS team counts toward bowl eligibility.
This week: Rutgers
6. USF (3-7, 1-4)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 12 result: Lost to Miami 40-9
Skip Holtz burned the redshirt of junior quarterback Bobby Eveld, a decision which turned out to be short-lived. Eveld, who started in place of B.J. Daniels’ season-long backup Matt Floyd, was knocked out in the first quarter with an injury. Eveld went 3 of 8 for 29 yards while Floyd finished 20 of 35 for 175 yards and two picks. As has been the case all season, the defense flopped for USF, allowing Miami to pass for 463 yards. The clock may be ticking for coach Skip Holtz.
This week: at Cincinnati (Friday)
7. Connecticut (4-6, 1-4)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 12 result: Off
Connecticut is a week removed from its shocking 24-17 upset of Pittsburgh. Winning the final two games against Louisville and Cincinnati will be a tough task, but the Huskies will try to duplicate what worked against Pitt. The run game is returning from its best day in Big East play with 132 yards, and the Huskies’ defense remains one of the best in the conference. UConn ranks ninth nationally in total defense at 296.2 yards allowed per game.
This week: at Louisville
8. Temple (4-6, 2-4)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 12 result: Beat Army 63-32
Against Army, Montel Harris had one of the best rushing performances of any player this season with a Big East-record 351 yards and seven touchdowns, the latter being one short of the FBS record. Harris’ effort naturally overshadowed Temple’s change at quarterback where Clinton Granger made his first start of the season. Grange was 2 of 4 for 31 yards but rushed for 85 yards. Beyond Harris, Temple rushed for 534 yards and nine touchdowns against Army.
This week: Syracuse (Friday)
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