Without further ado.
7) South Florida
Thoughtful analysis/rambling available after the jump.
Four weeks in, with four separate data points for most teams, the hierarchy of the conference has began to take shape. While it is surely folly to make definitive points, about any of these teams, before the end of September* the most general of outlines is discernible in the standings.
* Cue, South Florida fans nodding vigorously
There are three tiers in the conference. Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati are in that top group. I have Louisville on top, Rutgers second and the Bearcats third. Rutgers had the win of the week in the conference, while Louisville found themselves in a battle with FIU for a second straight year. UC meanwhile is holding a dominating win against Pitt in hand, and already played what is, most likely, the worst game they will play all season. The difference between these three teams is razor thin.
Rutgers now has a competent offense, a revaluation for a quarterback, and the usual array of talented locals and Floridians to fuel the offense. But, the Rutgers defense is not the world beater everyone assumed they would be, and there are gaping holes in the secondary.
Louisville has the highest ceiling of any team in the conference, but a general lack of focus, and sundry defensive lapses, have prevented the Cardinals from reaching their full potential. The lack of focus that the Bearcats had against Delaware State, but the performance against Pitt can't be overlooked.
Speaking of Pitt, they occupy the middle tier all by themselves right now. Over the course of the year someone will join them there, either one of the top three dropping down or, more likely, one of the bottom four rising up like Batman from the Prison Pit. (Commence chanting)
Temple, UConn, USF and Syracuse are all on essentially the same level. I have Cuse at 5 because they have played a more difficult schedule than anyone in the Big East and have, generally, acquitted themselves quite well. USF is the team that probably doesn't belong down here, and thus has the best chance to move up. But doing so would require a lot of faith in a greatly improved B.J. Daniels, or at the very least in a suddenly competent Skip Holtz.. For all intents and purposes USF is fools gold until they aren't, whenever that might be.