By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 6 Big East Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. West Virginia (5-1) – It took a half for the Mountaineers’ offense to wake up, but when they did, the onslaught of points was on. West Virginia scored 33 points in the second half to defeat Connecticut 43-16. Quarterback Geno Smith led the way for the Mountaineers once again, throwing for 449 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Dustin Garrison continues to emerge as the No. 1 ball carrier, rushing for 78 yards and a score. Another positive for West Virginia was defensive end Bruce Irvin, who registered 1.5 sacks against Connecticut. The Mountaineers have a bye in Week 7 and return to action on Oct. 21 at Syracuse.
2. South Florida (4-1) – The Bulls’ first bye week of the season came at a good time. After losing 44-17 to Pittsburgh, South Florida had two weeks to figure out what went wrong and make the needed adjustments. Saturday’s game at Connecticut will only be the Bulls’ second Big East contest of the year, and there’s plenty of time to make up ground on West Virginia, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati for the battle to win the conference title.
3. Rutgers (4-1) – The Scarlet Knights are still struggling on offense, but continue to find ways to win. Saturday’s 34-10 victory over Pittsburgh was huge, as Rutgers has already equaled last season’s win total. True freshman Gary Nova started at quarterback and completed 11 of 24 throws for 173 yards and two scores. The Scarlet Knights step out of conference for a difficult matchup against Navy this Saturday. Rutgers has some question marks, but is the only Big East team with a 2-0 record in conference play through six weeks.
4. Pittsburgh (3-3) – One week after demolishing South Florida 44-17, the Panthers were unable to build upon that momentum in Big East play in a 34-10 loss to Rutgers. Contributing to the disappointing outcome was four turnovers, suspect quarterback play from Tino Sunseri and six sacks allowed by the offensive line. Running back Ray Graham continues to be one of the top players in the Big East this season, rushing for 162 yards and one touchdown against the Scarlet Knights. The Panthers step out of conference for a matchup against Utah in Week 7.
5. Cincinnati (4-1) – The Bearcats had a bye on Saturday and return to action this Saturday against Louisville. Cincinnati has won its last three games over the Cardinals. This matchup was moved from Nippert Stadium to Paul Brown Stadium (the home of the Cincinnati Bengals). The Bearcats have already matched last season’s win total and will move one step closer to bowl eligibility with a victory over Louisville.
6. Syracuse (4-2) – It wasn’t pretty, but the Orange posted a 37-34 win over Tulane to earn their fourth victory of the season. Syracuse was outgained, but won the turnover battle and outside of one 40-yard touchdown run, kept Green Wave running back Orleans Darkwa in check. The Orange has been living on the edge all year, barely beating Rhode Island and three games going into overtime. Syracuse is off this Saturday and returns to action with a date against West Virginia on Oct. 21.
7. Louisville (2-3) – The 14-7 loss to North Carolina capped an interesting week in Louisville. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford did not make the trip to Chapel Hill, with rumors about his future with the team swirled late in the week. However, coach Charlie Strong indicated Sanford would return for the Oct. 15 game against Cincinnati. However, it’s unclear if Sanford will call plays or if Shawn Watson continues as offensive coordinator. One bright spot in the loss to the Tar Heels was the play of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The freshman completed 19 of 30 throws for 173 yards and one touchdown. Louisville takes on rival Cincinnati this Saturday.
8. Connecticut (2-4) – The Huskies hung tough for a half against West Virginia, but didn’t have enough offense to make it interesting in the final two quarters. Quarterback Johnny McEntee seems to have a firm grasp on the starting job, completing 21 of 37 for 192 yards against the Mountaineers. Although McEntee has settled as the No. 1 quarterback, the Huskies still need more production from him. Repeating as Big East champions is very unlikely. However, are there enough wins on the schedule to get bowl eligible?