By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 8 Big East Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Cincinnati (6-1) – Thanks to a 37-34 win over South Florida on Saturday, the Bearcats are the new No. 1 team in the Big East power rankings. Quarterback Zach Collaros made several clutch plays in the victory, finishing with 389 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Bearcats struggled to stop South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels, but also forced four turnovers. Cincinnati has won five in a row and is the only Big East team without a loss in conference play. The Bearcats are off this Saturday, before returning to action on Nov. 5 at Pittsburgh.
2. West Virginia (5-2) – Due to a 49-23 loss to Syracuse, the Mountaineers relinquish the No. 1 spot in the power rankings for the first time this season. There weren’t many positives in the loss, as both sides of the ball had issues for West Virginia. Quarterback Geno Smith threw two interceptions, but didn’t get much help from the rushing attack or offensive line. The Mountaineers’ defense also struggled to get stops, allowing Syracuse to collect 443 yards of total offense. West Virginia hits the road for a matchup against Rutgers this Saturday.
3. Rutgers (5-2) – The Scarlet Knights make a slight drop in this week’s power rankings. Rutgers had its four-game winning streak snapped on Friday night, losing 16-14 to Louisville. Winning the turnover battle has been huge for the Scarlet Knights this season, but they were on the losing end of that statistic against the Cardinals. Freshman quarterback Gary Nova threw three interceptions, while Louisville only turned the ball over once. Rutgers is still in good shape in conference play, especially with West Virginia visiting Piscataway this Saturday.
4. Syracuse (5-2) – The Orange were heavy underdogs on Friday night, but pulled off one of Week 8’s big upsets by beating West Virginia 49-23. Quarterback Ryan Nassib posted a solid performance, throwing for 229 yards and three scores. The defense did a good job of pressuring West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, along with forcing him into two interceptions. The win on Friday gives Syracuse its first back-to-back wins over the Mountaineers since 2000-2001. The Orange play at Louisville this Saturday.
5. Pittsburgh (3-4) – The Panthers had a bye in Week 8 and will return to action on Wednesday night against Connecticut. Pittsburgh is reeling just a bit, as it has lost back-to-back games and still needs three wins to get bowl eligible. If the Panthers want to get into the postseason, beating the Huskies are a must. Coach Todd Graham has been frustrated with the production from his offense, but will be sticking with Tino Sunseri as his quarterback. Sunseri has struggled, but hasn’t received much help from his offensive line.
6. South Florida (4-3) – A promising 4-0 start has suddenly been washed away with three straight losses. The Bulls looked like one of the top teams in the Big East early this year, but are likely out of the conference race due to the recent losses. South Florida is coming off a 37-34 loss to Cincinnati on Saturday, which makes it the only team in the Big East without a conference win. The Bulls have a bye this Saturday, which comes at a good time for a team that is desperate for wins just to get bowl eligible.
7. Louisville (3-4) – The Cardinals are starting a handful of young players, and it appears things are starting to come together. Louisville snapped a three-game losing streak, defeating Rutgers 16-14 to earn its first Big East win in 2011. The Cardinals finally got their rushing game on track, getting 108 yards from sophomore back Jeremy Wright, while Dominique Brown and Victor Anderson combined for 78 more. Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to progress, completing 10 of 18 throws for 122 yards and one score. Louisville still has a lot of work to do in order to get bowl eligible, but a win over Syracuse on Saturday would help postseason hopes.
8. Connecticut (3-4) – The Huskies had a bye in Week 8 and are back in action on Wednesday night at Pittsburgh. Connecticut’s off week came at a good time, as the team upset South Florida to earn its first Big East win of 2011. With the Huskies having some momentum, the bye week allowed them some time to look back and fix some of the mistakes from the first half. The offense is still a concern, particularly at quarterback with Johnny McEntee and Scott McCummings getting snaps each week. Connecticut is unlikely to repeat as Big East champs, but returning to a bowl game is still within reach.