By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)
Post-Week 12 Big East Power Rankings
Check out all of our college football rankings.
1. West Virginia (7-3) – The Mountaineers had a bye in Week 12 and will return to action this Friday in the Backyard Brawl against rival Pittsburgh. With West Virginia moving to the Big 12 and Pittsburgh off to the ACC, will this be the final matchup between these two schools for a couple of seasons? Thanks to Cincinnati’s loss to Rutgers, the Mountaineers have to be considered the favorite to win the conference and claim the BCS berth. Along with winning its final two games, West Virginia needs a little help in the form of a Louisville loss to take the Big East title outright.
2. Louisville (6-5) – Considering the Cardinals got off to a 2-4 start with losses to Marshall and FIU, coach Charlie Strong has to be pleased with where his team stands going into the final game of the regular season. Louisville handled Connecticut 34-20 to keep pace in the Big East title race. With Cincinnati’s loss to Rutgers, the Cardinals are now in a five-way tie for the No. 1 spot in the conference. If Louisville knocks off South Florida and gets help in the form of losses by Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, it will claim the conference title and a spot in the BCS.
3. Rutgers (8-3) – Thanks to their 20-3 victory over Cincinnati, the Scarlet Knights have completely changed the outlook of the Big East race. The Bearcats had full control of the conference, but the loss to Rutgers has created a five-way tie atop the conference. Running back Jawan Jamison gashed Cincinnati for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries, while quarterback Chas Dodd threw for 173 yards and no picks. The defense came up big for Rutgers, limiting running back Isaiah Pead to 28 yards and holding Cincinnati to its lowest point total this year. The Scarlet Knights play their final regular season game this Saturday at Connecticut.
4. Cincinnati (7-3) – The Bearcats commanding lead in the conference standings is no more. With Saturday’s 20-3 loss to Rutgers, the race to win the Big East is wide open with five teams tied with two conference losses. With Zach Collaros out, sophomore Munchie Legaux made his first start against the Scarlet Knights and completed only 12 of 31 throws for 158 yards and one interception. Running back Isaiah Pead never managed to get on track, recording 28 yards on 14 carries. Cincinnati plays at Syracuse this Saturday and finishes the year with a home game against Connecticut on Dec. 3.
5. Pittsburgh (5-5) – With two games remaining, the Panthers are still alive in the Big East title mix. Thanks to Rutgers’ win over Cincinnati, the door is open for Pittsburgh, Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia once again. The Panthers had a bye on Saturday and return to action on Nov. 25 at West Virginia. Pittsburgh has not defeated West Virginia since 2008 and has not won in Morgantown since 2007.
6. South Florida (5-5) – The Bulls have been on the wrong end of some close games this season. South Florida dropped back to .500 with a 6-3 loss to Miami on Saturday. The Bulls managed only 247 yards on offense, largely due to an injury to quarterback B.J. Daniels. The junior suffered a sprained shoulder and will be questionable to play in next week’s game against Louisville. In games decided by a touchdown or less, South Florida is 1-4 this season.
7. Connecticut (4-6) – Any hope the Huskies had of repeating as Big East champs ended with Saturday’s 34-20 loss to Louisville. Connecticut’s offense struggled all day to find its rhythm, as quarterback Johnny McEntee completed only 18 of 45 throws for 265 yards and two interceptions. Running back Lyle McCombs rushed for only 33 yards, but that pushed his total over 1,000 for the season. The Huskies can still get bowl eligible, but they need to beat Rutgers and Cincinnati to get to six wins.
8. Syracuse (5-5) – The Orange had a bye in Week 12 and will return to action this Saturday against Cincinnati. The off week came at a good time for coach Doug Marrone, as Syracuse has lost its last three games. The Orange has had an up and down season, but can still get bowl eligible with a win over Cincinnati or Pittsburgh in the final two weeks of the regular season. Syracuse had Big East title hopes in the preseason, so a 1-4 conference record going into Week 13 has to be considered a disappointment.