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Rutgers maintains its spot at the top of the rankings, but the there is little difference between the Scarlet Knights and the Cincinnati Bearcats and Louisville Cardinals. All three of them have broken away from the Peloton that is the rest of the Big East. We all await the first deceive clash between these three teams on October 16th when Cincinnati and Louisville meet in the Ville.
1) Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights handled their business with a smothering performance at home, downing Connecticut in a performance so smothering that it inspired a philosophical bent. For my money Rtugers is the best team in the conference, mainly because their defense is the single most effective weapon possessed by any team in the Big East. They might not be smothering in the Alabama sense, but they are extremely disruptive. And the offense isn't bad either with Jawan Jamison leading the way.
2) Cincinnati: Its never really pretty, but the Bearcats kept on grinding Saturday night, picking up a 7th straight win in the annual Battle For The Victory Bell. The defense was back on form against the Redhawks, particularly from an takeaway standpoint as UC took the ball off Miami four times, the most takeaways since the USF game last season. Zach Dysert did throw for 300 yards, but had a 104 passer rating, which is expected at this point. The Bearcats ground game got back into action, as requested, as George Winn had a monster game. This was a shockingly easy win for the Bearcats.
3) Louisville: The Cardinals were off these week. But the bad taste from the FIU and Southern Miss games still lingers. The Cardinals are still one of the teams that control their own destiny, but this isn't the team everyone assumed the Cardinals would be in August when they were the runaway favorite.
4) Syracuse: I guess, not much conviction for this pick. Really this is down to one man, Ryan Nassib. Nassib alone means that this team is capible of giving. Nassib didn't have his A game Friday, but Cuse still won, albeit at home. Still if the question is which team from the pesantry can unseat one of the top three its the Cuse. Simply because Nassib can throw up a 300 yard, 3 TD game, with 75 percent completion percentage, seemingly at will. Thats kind of dangerous.
5) Pitt: Yes its the team that just lost to the Cuse, but Pitt can pose problems, as Louisville will find out this week. The Panthers are, without question, the biggest enigma in the Big East. They have an efficient, semi explosive offense, that can pose problems with the run or pass, but they have massive issues in the red zone. Similarly the defense isn't bad on efficiency terms, but when those do or die moments in games come they die, almost always. Just a weird year for Pitt all around.
6) Temple: Like country music, I don't really understand the appeal, but Temple has to move up here, for the simple reason that they won their first game in their new/old conference at home against a team that was presumed to be one of the leaders in the conference, inexplicably so.
7) Connecticut: And now we enter hot seat row, for the coaches that are facing mounting pressure, and yet remain comfortably ensconced in their current positions for the foreseeable future. Like UConn teams of the pass these Huskies are good on defense, top 25 in every major defensive category, but abysmal on offense, bottom 25 in rushing, scoring and total offense. The defense will keep them in every conference game, the offense will ensure that they don't win many of them.
8) USF: Bulls fans are having a sad right now. USF is not a good football team, there is no disputing that at this point. All there really is to ensure that fans are at least mad at the right people.