This is a new weekly rundown breaking down the top 10 things from the week that was in the Big East. Without further ado.
10) Pitt: I know, I know. Pitt is not a Big East team blah. True, true all of it. That being said there is no one who could have predicted, let alone expected, what happened Saturday afternoon when the Panthers dominated Virginia Tech in exactly the same way that UC dominated the Panthers. It is hard to imagine any team in the country having the turnaround that the Panthers had between games.
9) The UConn Defense: Everyone talked about Rutgers having the best defense in the conference in the pre season. Not without reason. They do have Kasheem Green, the reigning Co-Defensive Player of the Year and, by consensus, the best back seven in the conference. But it is UConn who is currently ranked in the top 10 in all four major defensive categories, not Rutgers. UConn traveled to Maryland and shut down former boss Randy Edsall in a 24-21 win. The Huskies are for real defensively, not so much offensively.
8) Yawain Smallwood: On a defense that seemingly has nothing but pass rushers and soul crushing linebackers Yawain Smallwood is both. Trevardo Williams and Sio Moore get most of the notice, they are the seniors, and they have been around the block. But Smallwood is coming into his own. Against Maryland Smallwood tallied 14 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and he forced a fumble for fun. He is the reckoning.
7) Marcus Sales: Three games in the books for Syracuse and Sales is just 76 yards from setting a his personal best in terms of receiving yardage. Just for good measure he is on pace to exceed his receiving tally from the three previous years combined. Taking his numbers and projecting them over a season Sales is on pace to shatter, not just break, the Syracuse single season marks for catches, yards and TD's. Sales is, of course, the biggest benefactor from the emergence of Ryan Nassib into the quarterbacking equivalent of a Visigoth. Speaking of which
6) Ryan Nassib: There is no longer an Air Raid QB in the Big East, and that is a tremendous tragedy. But looking at the boxscores you would never know it. Nassib continues what has to be one of the most remarkable seasons by a Big East QB since Tony Pike. I assumed that Nassib would be a good QB this year, and that he would have air it out a bit. I wasn't expecting 375 yards a game.
5) George Winn: Homer pick, so sue me. But no one expected this kind of production from Winn this year, least of all me. But he has come out of the gates red hot and is currently tied with the awesomely named Zurlon Tipton* for 14th in the country averaging 121 yards per game.
* Seriously, how is Zurlon Tipton not on the All Name All Stars.
4) Rushel Shell: The freshman phenom came out in a big way against the Hokies. He carried the ball 23 times for 168 yards against the Hokies, and generally reminded everyone why he was one of the most highly decorated recruits in the last decade or so from Western PA.
3) Teddy Bridgewater: Once upon a time I seriously questioned the logic of simply assuming that Teddy Bridgewater would make "the leap." Yeah that didn't work out for me. Bridgewater has been simply immaculate this year, and he had it all on display against North Carolina. At least for a half. Now, if only Bridgewater and Co. could remember that all games have two halves they would be in great shape.
2) Jawan Jamison: Since the departure of the immortal Ray Rice Rutgers has been a team without an offensive identity. For a while there they had an offensive identity of "Throw it in the general direction of Kenny Britt/Mahmoud Sanu." But that is just something you do, not an identity. The search may be over. Jawan Jamison might just be that identity. He carried 41 times, (a Rutgers record) for 151 yards and a score against South Florida. He leads the Big East in rushing and is just generally playing like a monster.
1) Jawan Jamison's Spin Move: Just because.