After two weeks of the season, Louisville still looks like the team to beat in the Big East, but the Cardinals are not without company.
The top four in our power rankings remain unchanged since last week, but USF and Cincinnati picked up key wins to signal they may be in the conference title hunt. USF finally turned the tables on its fourth quarter woes, and Cincinnati appears to be just as explosive on offense without Zach Collaros and Isaiah Pead.
Post-Week 2 Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --The Cardinals sophomore quarterback added another milestone performance to his resume, earning his first 300-yard passing game in a 35-7 win over Missouri State. Bridgewater was 30-of-39 with 344 yards and two touchdowns again the Bears.
2. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse -- The Orange have faced tough competition in Northwestern and USC, but Nassib has kept Syracuse competitive in both games. The Orange are third in the nation in passing with Nassib throwing for 804 yards with six touchdowns.
3. B.J. Daniels, USF -- Daniels showed off his arm in the fourth quarter with two touchdown passes of at least 50 yards (he had three in the game, though the first was the result of broken tackles). Daniels has accounted for seven touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) in two games
Post-Week 2 Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Walter Stewart, Cincinnati -- The senior had nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble in the 34-10 win over Pittsburgh on Thursday.
2. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut -- Smallwood continued to be the most productive player on the UConn defense in a stout effort. The sophomore finished with 14 tackles and three tackles for a loss as the Huskies lost 10-7 to NC State.
3. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers -- The Scarlet Knights linebacker continued to rack up the tackle numbers with 10 stops against Howard, including a sack, a forced fumble and a pass breakup.
Post-Week 2 Coach of the Year Standings
1. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- Pittsburgh may be the worst team in the Big East right now, but Cincinnati might be one of the best after a 34-10 win Thursday. Despite losses to graduation, the Bearcats still have game-changing performers on both sides of the ball.
2. Charlie Strong, Louisville -- The Cardinals have done everything they were supposed to do this season with decisive wins over Kentucky and Missouri State by a combined score of 67-21.
3. Skip Holtz, USF -- Holtz will learn more about his team’s ability to compete for a Big East title when the Bulls face Rutgers this week, but it was encouraging to see the Bulls battle back on the road against Nevada.
Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (2-0, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 2 result: Beat Missouri State 35-7
Louisville took care of business against an overmatched Missouri State team that lost 51-9 at Kansas State a week earlier. Missouri State loaded up to stop the run, allowing Teddy Bridgewater to pass for a career-high 344 yards. Bridgewater got some new faces in the passing game involved with freshman receiver Charles Gaines catching three passes for 73 yards and senior tight end Nate Nord catching four passes for 59 yards with a touchdown. Up next, Louisville will face its toughest test of the season against North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated Louisville 14-7 last season.
This week: North Carolina
2. USF (2-0, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 2 result: Beat Nevada 32-31
The Bulls finally saw a late fourth-quarter win go its way. A year ago, USF led or was tied in the fourth quarter of each of its last six losses. On Saturday, Nevada led 31-20 in the fourth quarter, but B.J. Daniels completed touchdown passes for 52 and 56 yards in the fourth quarter to seal the win. And before that, USF forced a fumble in the Bulls' territory and held Nevada to a field goal in the red zone to prevent the game from going out of reach earlier in the fourth quarter. Starting cornerback Kayvon Webster and receiver Sterling Griffin left the game with injuries, but Andre Davis was the breakout Big East player of the weekend with 12 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns, including the 56-yard game-winner. A major concern for Skip Holtz, though, will be allowing 549 yards of offense and twice falling behind by double figures.
This week: Rutgers
3. Rutgers (2-0, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 2 result: Beat Howard 26-0
A sloppy effort wasn’t enough to derail a shutout of Howard, but it does signal the Scarlet Knights have plenty of work to do before facing USF in its Big East opener. Rutgers missed two extra points, committed 11 penalties and dropped a handful of passes against Howard. Quarterback Gary Nova was a mere 15 of 27 for 130 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Jawan Jamison added his second 100-yard game of the season, averaging 7.9 yards per carry.
This week: at USF
4. Cincinnati (1-0, 1-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 2 result: Beat Pittsburgh 34-10
Cincinnati’s offense is going to be just fine, it seems. In his first game as the permanent starter, Munchie Legaux completed 14 of 28 passes for 205 yards with two touchdowns, but he was more impressive in the ground game. Legaux rushed for 117 yards on six carries against Pittsburgh. Receiver Ralph David Abernathy IV (two touchdown catches) looked like a star now that he’s moved into the offense full time after returning kicks last season. Cincinnati had eight plays or 20 yards or more against the Pitt defense.
This week: Delaware State
5. Connecticut (1-1, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 2 result: Lost to NC State 10-7
Connecticut’s defense will keep the Huskies competitive. The offense, though, remains a work in progress. One 46-yard touchdown pass was the only explosive play for NC State all day. UConn sacked Mike Glennon six times and limited him to 15 of 30 attempts with an interception. The offense, though, reverted to its 2011 form. Chandler Whitmer threw three interceptions, and the Huskies rushed for only 35 yards and 1.1 yards per carry.
This week: at Maryland
6. Syracuse (0-2, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 2 result: Lost to USC 42-29
With an easier schedule, Syracuse might be 2-0. Instead, Syracuse is 0-2 with hard-fought losses to Northwestern and USC. Syracuse narrowed USC’s lead to 21-16 going into the fourth quarter, but the Trojans were just too much for the Orange. Ryan Nassib has proven capable of moving the ball on any opponent, but the defense has allowed 42 points in back-to-back games. Stony Brook should give Syracuse a chance to not a win, and after that the Orange face Minnesota and Pitt.
This week: Stony Brook
7. Temple (1-1, 0-0 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 2 result: Lost to Maryland 36-27
Temple’s limitations in the passing game were evident as the Owls attempted a second-half comeback against Maryland. Temple fell behind 26-3 at halftime and crawled back to with in 2 in the final 7:18 of the fourth quarter. However, owls quarterback Chris Coyer threw the game-clinching interception for Maryland to seal a loss that included three Temple turnovers and a missed field goal. An off week is coming at a good time. Montel Harris, who left the opener with a hamstring injury, and Matt Brown, who was limited with an ankle injury, have opportunities to heal before the Owls face Penn State on Sept. 22.
This week: Off
8. Pittsburgh (0-2, 0-1 Big East)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 2 result: Lost to Cincinnati 34-10
Pittsburgh’s misery continued on just the first play of the game when Cincinnati’s George Winn rushed for a 58-yard score. Pittsburgh’s problems could be found all over the the field as Tino Sunseri was sacked six times and intercepted once, the defense allowed eight plays of 20 yards or more, including runs of 77 of 58 yards, and the Panthers committed eight penalties, including key miscues by veterans. If there’s any silver lining, it’s the play of Ray Graham. The running back seemed to be more confident as the Cincinnati game wore on as he finished with 103 yards on 19 carries and 51 yards on four receptions.
This week: Virginia Tech
by David Fox
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