By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 11 Big East Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. Cincinnati (7-2) – The Bearcats suffered a setback in the Big East title race, losing 24-21 to West Virginia on Saturday. The loss to the Mountaineers was Cincinnati’s first conference defeat this year. Making matters even worse was an injury to starting quarterback Zach Collaros. The senior suffered a fractured ankle and has been lost for the rest of the regular season. Backup Munchie Legaux completed 9 of 20 throws for 138 yards in relief of Collaros, while also rushing for 77 yards and a score. The Bearcats still hold a one-game lead in the Big East, but face road tests the next two weeks – at Rutgers and at Syracuse. Without Collaros, Cincinnati could see its Big East title hopes slip away.
2. West Virginia (7-3) – Don’t count out the Mountaineers in the Big East title race. West Virginia kept its conference championship hopes alive with a 24-21 victory over Cincinnati on Saturday. With the rushing attack going nowhere, quarterback Geno Smith carried the offense with 372 passing yards and one score. The defense also made a few key plays, recording a touchdown in the first half and blocked field goal as time expired to preserve the victory. West Virginia still needs another Cincinnati loss to jump back to the top of the standings, but Saturday’s win was big to get back into the mix. The Mountaineers are off next Saturday and play Pittsburgh on Nov. 25.
3. Louisville (5-5) – The Cardinals had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 21-14 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday. The offense was held in check most of the afternoon, as Louisville’s first score came late in the third quarter. Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw for only 162 yards, and the rushing attack never managed to get on track. After building momentum with three straight wins, Louisville has to turn its focus back to getting bowl eligible. The Cardinals need to win one of their final two games (at Connecticut and at South Florida) to get into the postseason. Louisville isn't eliminated in the conference title race, but needs Cincinnati lose out.
4. Rutgers (7-3) – The Scarlet Knights got all they could handle from Army, but used two fourth quarter touchdowns to finish with a 27-12 victory. Chas Dodd got the call at quarterback and completed 17 of 27 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown. Jeremy Deering also gave the offense a spark, rushing for 66 yards on 14 attempts. This game may be the first of two for Rutgers in Yankee Stadium this year. With a 7-3 record, the Scarlet Knights have to be squarely on the Pinstripe Bowl radar, which is held on Dec. 30 in New York City.
5. Pittsburgh (5-5) – Quarterback Tino Sunseri led the Panthers to a 21-14 victory over Louisville on Saturday, totaling 227 overall yards and posting two scores. The win over the Cardinals was Pittsburgh’s first on the road this year and improved its record to 3-2 in Big East play. The Panthers need one more win to get bowl eligible and have two games remaining: at West Virginia and home against Syracuse. Pittsburgh has a bye this Saturday and travels to Morgantown for the Backyard Brawl on Friday, Nov. 25.
6. South Florida (5-4) – The Bulls snapped a four-game losing streak with a dominating 37-17 victory over Syracuse on Friday night. Quarterback B.J. Daniels carried the offense, rushing for 117 yards and a score, while passing for 254 yards. The defense allowed 405 yards, but kept Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey in check and allowed only seven points in the second half. South Florida still needs one more win to get bowl eligible, and ends the year with three home games – Miami, Louisville and West Virginia. The Bulls expected to be better than 5-4 entering Week 12, but there’s a good chance they can finish 8-4 with a favorable remaining schedule.
7. Connecticut (4-5) – The Huskies had a bye in Week 11 and return to action this Saturday against Louisville. Connecticut needs two wins to get bowl eligible, but there’s no guaranteed victories on the schedule. The Huskies are home against Louisville and Rutgers, before closing out the year at Cincinnati. Connecticut’s postseason hopes largely rest on its quarterback play. Johnny McEntee has been inconsistent, and Scott McCummings may see more time as a change of pace option.
8. Syracuse (5-5) – The Orange head into their bye week with two games remaining, and one victory needed to get bowl eligible. After upsetting West Virginia 49-23 on Oct. 21, Syracuse has lost three consecutive games, including a 37-17 defeat to South Florida on Friday night. The offense had its moments against the Bulls, but was unable to cash in on a couple of key opportunities around the goal-line. And the defense struggled to stop South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels, who totaled 371 overall yards. Syracuse returns to action on Nov. 26 with a home date against Cincinnati.