Rutgers’ road win over a team that lost in overtime to Louisiana-Monroe and 52-0 to Alabama saved the Big East further embarrassment in Week 4.
Only a week after the Big East went 3-0 against ACC schools, the Big East flopped Saturday with two losses on the road against MAC teams and two losses against vulnerable Big East teams on the road. Even league favorite Louisville struggled at times on the road at Florida International.
Thanks to Rutgers’ win over Arkansas, the week wasn’t a total loss for the Big East.
Offensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville --Bridgewater had his worst game of the season despite playing in familiar territory in his hometown of Miami. The sophomore entered the game against Florida International completing 72-of-88 passes, but he was 19 of 36 against FIU. He also threw his first two interceptions of he season.
2. Gary Nova, Rutgers --In a development that would have been unthinkable back in August, Nova outplayed Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson in Fayetteville. A week after a sound performance against USF in Tampa, Nova broke out by going 25 of 35 for 397 yards with five touchdowns against Arkansas.
3. Jawan Jamison, Rutgers -- The Scarlet Knights’ offense isn’t one dimensional. Jamison topped 100 yards for the fourth time this season, rushing for 118 yards on 33 carries against Arkansas. Rutgers may be watching his workload, though, as the sophomore has 74 carries the last two weeks.
Defensive Player of the Year Standings
1. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers -- The Scarlet Knights’ defense didn’t have its best game against Arkansas as Tyler Wilson passed for 419 yards, 303 of those to Cobi Hamilton. Greene, though, finished with seven tackles, two pass breakups and a quarterback pressure.
2. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut -- With Western Michigan going to the air against UConn, Smallwood didn’t have the big-play numbers he’s had in other games this season, finishing with seven tackles. Yet Smallwood still leads the Big East in tackles and tackles for a loss.
3. Jason Hendricks, Pittsburgh -- After moving a few players the secondary, Pitt’s pass defense has become a strength in the past two games. Along with Jarred Holley, safety Jason Hendricks has helped lead the way with three interceptions in the last two weeks.
Coach of the Year Standings
1. Kyle Flood, Rutgers -- Rutgers looked shaky in the first two games of the season, but the Scarlet Knights appear to be capable of finally winning their first Big East title. The first-year coach leads the only team in the country with three wins on the road (Tulane, USF and Arkansas).
2. Butch Jones, Cincinnati -- Jones’ main task is navigating an odd stretch to start the season which has included two open dates, an early conference game, an FCS opponent and now a neutral site game against Virginia Tech.
3. Charlie Strong, Louisville -- The Cardinals’ last six quarters have to be of concern for Strong (right). North Carolina went on a 27-3 run against Louisville in the second half a week ago. The Louisville let a short-handed FIU hang around in a 28-21 win.
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (4-0, 0-0)
Last week’s rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat Florida International 28-21
Louisville’s offense sputtered at times, but the Cardinals avoided a second consecutive loss to FIU despite a curveball thrown to the coaching staff. All assistants from both teams coached from the sidelines when FIU’s staff found its headsets were inoperable (rules prohibit one team coaching from the press box if the other cannot). Teddy Bridgewater had his worst game of the season, but more troubling may be the play of the defense. FIU had 326 yards of offense despite playing without its top running back, Kendrick Rhodes, for the entire game and without starting quarterback Jake Medlock for part of the game. Louisville has four sacks and 12 tackles for a loss this season, Big East-lows in both categories.
This week: at Southern Miss
2. Rutgers (4-0, 1-0)
Last week’s rank: 2
Week 4 result: Beat Arkansas 35-26
Rutgers is 4-0 for the first time since 2006, when the Scarlet Knights started with nine consecutive wins and finished 11-2. Excluding Louisville wins over Kentucky, Rutgers notched the Big East’s first win in an SEC stadium since USF defeated Auburn on the road in 2007. After a couple of years of questions at quarterback and problems on the offensive line, Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova seems to be getting better by the week behind a line that has allowed two sacks all season.
This week: Off
3. Cincinnati (2-0, 1-0)
Last week’s rank: 4
Week 4 result: Off
Cincinnati will return from an open date to try to do what Pittsburgh did to Virginia Tech two weeks ago. The Bearcats have had two weeks to digest a dominating win over Pitt followed by a lackluster effort against Delaware State, where quarterback Munchie Legaux accounted for four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles).
This week: Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.)
4. USF (2-2, 0-1)
Last week’s rank: 3
Week 4 result: Lost to Ball State 31-27
The offense appeared to recover from its struggles against Rutgers a week ago with B.J. Daniels passing for 312 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-30 attempts while rushing for 75. Daniels led scoring drives of 84 and 99 yards in the second half to narrow the deficit to a field goal. The defense, however, was a no-show. The Bulls were shutout in the “big play” department with no takeaways and no tackles for a loss. In the last two games, USF has allowed opponents to convert half of their third-down attempts (16 of 32 combined against Rutgers and Ball State). This is a team whose defense has been a calling card -- the Bulls were in the top four nationally in sacks and tackles for a loss just a year ago. DeDe Lattimore, Sam Barrington and Ryne Giddins are still at USF, but the results are not.
This week: Florida State
5. Pittsburgh (2-2, 0-1)
Last week’s rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat Gardner-Webb 55-10
Has Pittsburgh overcome its dysfunction on both sides of the ball from the first two games of the season? It sure appears so over the last two weeks against Virginia Tech and Gardner-Webb. Pitt did what it couldn’t do against its last FCS opponent and built a big lead on Gardner-Webb by the end of the first half. Ray Graham rushed for a 78-yard touchdown in the first quarter and took most of the day off thereafter. And after completing 18 of 24 passes for 244 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers, Tino Sunseri ranks 15th in the country in pass efficiency.
This week: Off
6. Connecticut (2-2, 0-0)
Last week’s rank: 5
Week 4 result: Lost to Western Michigan 30-24
Connecticut’s stifling run defense couldn’t help the Huskies against Western Michigan, who defeated UConn for the second season in a row. Western Michigan rushed for only 77 yards and 2.6 yards per carry, but Connecticut’s offense remained stuck in neutral. Chandler Whitmer passed for 333 yards, and Lyle McCombs had his first 100-yard game of the season. But Whitmer was sacked six times and turned the ball over three times (two interceptions one fumble). UConn is last in the Big East in turnover margin (minus-6), pass efficiency (119.8), yards per carry (2.9) and sacks allowed (10). The Huskies are also the only team in the league with more interceptions than touchdown passes.
This week: Buffalo
7. Syracuse (1-3, 0-0)
Last week’s rank: 6
Week 4 result: Lost to Minnesota 17-10
Through the first three weeks of the season, the line on Syracuse was that the Orange were not as bad as its record indicated thanks to hard-fought losses to Northwestern and USC. Maybe not. Syracuse was kept out of the end zone until the game’s final minute in a road trip to Minnesota. Quarterback Ryan Nassib struggled, passing for only 82 yards in the first half and turning the ball over three times (two interceptions, one fumble) in the game. The defense wasn’t much better as Minnesota backup quarterback Max Shortell passed for 231 yards. Turnovers continue to be a problem as Syracuse is minus-6 in turnover margin this season.
This week: Off
8. Temple (1-2, 0-0)
Last week’s rank: 8
Week 4 result: Lost to Penn State 24-13
Even with running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown in the lineup, Temple was unable to move the ball against the Penn State defense thanks to the Owls’ non-functional passing game. Chris Coyer was 13 of 26 for 124 yards with a touchdown against Penn State, but it was clear the Nittany Lions didn’t spend much time worrying about Temple as a passing threat. The Owls have the fewest pass attempts and fewest completions in the Big East and average a Big-East-low 6.6 yards per attempt (every other team in the league averages at least 7.2). Harris and Brown combined for just 49 yards on 14 carries as Temple failed to score a touchdown until the final 1:33.
This week: Off
By David Fox
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