|Big East picture still blurry with 5 games left|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 29 October 2008 13:37|
No. 24 South Florida, the only Big East team in the Top 25, has a losing record in league play. The last undefeated team in the league - West Virginia - hasn't won a game on the road. Connecticut - working on its third quarterback of the year - is tied for second. A team with a four-year starter at quarterback - Rutgers - was in last place until a week ago before knocking off trendy pick Pittsburgh.
Outside of woeful Syracuse, the championship chase seems to be wide open. And don't count out the Orange just yet, they host surging Louisville (5-2, 1-1 Big East) on Saturday in a rematch of a game Syracuse won 38-35 a year ago.
``This is the black and blue league,'' West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. ``It's a battering and banging and clanging. It's just a rough, rough league.''
Pittsburgh (5-3, 2-1) appeared to establish itself as the early front-runner after knocking off South Florida on the road earlier this month. Then the Panthers were destroyed at home by Rutgers last week as struggling Scarlet Knights quarterback Mike Teel threw a six touchdowns.
UConn (6-2, 2-1) is in a second-place tie with the Panthers despite one of the shakiest quarterback situations in the country. The Huskies are already on their third quarterback due to injuries, though the ever-churning legs of tailback Donald Brown have helped UConn survive despite being one of the most one-dimensional teams in the nation.
South Florida (6-2, 1-2) leads the league in total offense and total defense but has let winnable games against Pittsburgh and Louisville slip away. West Virginia (5-2, 2-0) is in position to win a second straight title but hasn't beaten a major college team with a winning record.
``We were remarking in our room, the ACC and the Big East are fairly similar,'' said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. ``Everybody is still in it. Everybody is knocking each other off. The parity, it's amazing. It's a championship game every week.''
Bowl Championship Series just because the champion's league record isn't quite as sexy as some others.
``Look at our past track record,'' Stewart said. ``I look at the last few years in bowls in Big East. We were 5-0 one year, 3-2 another year. We've won three straight BCS games. We deserve a BCS (bid) and always will.''
TEEL TURNS IT AROUND: Rutgers coach Greg Schiano never lost confidence in senior quarterback Mike Teel, even after Teel struggled with his decision-making and his temperament as the Scarlet Knights got off to a 1-5 start.
At one point Teel led the Big East in interceptions and grew so frustrated he threw a punch at a teammate at the end of a loss to Navy.
Schiano, however, never lost confidence in his quarterback, and Teel repaid his patience with a breakout performance against Pittsburgh. He threw for 361 yards and six scores - three more than he had all season - in a 54-34 win. Teel was named conference offensive player of the week for his efforts.
``It would have been easier for him to throw in the towel,'' Schiano said. ``He didn't and I'm glad about that. We as a program and as a team needed it. He's certainly done it on the big stage numerous times. I'm glad he did it again.''
plays he saw during spring practice would start showing up in the games.
``Saturday wasn't much different than the three previous weeks,'' Schiano said. ``We were only a couple inches off here or there and all of a sudden we're catching those balls and hitting those big plays. This looked like the receiving corps and the quarterback I saw in the spring.''
FEELING BETTER: West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said the most important person on the team isn't the coaches or even quarterback Patrick White. Instead, Stewart credited his strength and conditioning staff for helping the Mountaineers reel off four straight wins heading into Saturday's game at UConn.
``Injuries are the biggest part in football,'' Stewart said. ``You can take all that Xs and Os and take all that coaching and take all these geniuses that have all the answers and all these clinics, if you don't have players on the field, you're not worth a hoot.''
The Mountaineers have regrouped even as quarterbacks White and Jarrett Brown have been hit by injuries and having senior linebacker Reed Williams out almost the entire year. Stewart said his team's conditioning and it's ability to stay fresh late in games that have keyed the surge.
start, a 40-16 win over Cincinnati, including a 47-yarder into a 20 mph wind.
That earned him some high praise from his coach and Big East special teams player of the week honors.
``The thing I like about David is he's one of those kickers that was an athlete,'' Randy Edsall said Tuesday.
Teggart was a star baseball player in high school and was a linebacker on the football team when he wasn't kicking.
``He's competed in the arena, just other than kicking so he has probably a little bit different mentality,'' Edsall said.
He said it's hard to recruit a kicker, because so much of the kicking game is mental.
``To know what's between the ears, and how somebody is going to react, you have no clue, you have no idea,'' Edsall said.
He said Teggart is very even keeled, a perfectionist with good mechanics and quick to the ball.
Teggart took over after senior Tony Ciaravino missed 3-of-4 kicks in a 12-10 loss to Rutgers.
OTHER HONORS: Louisville senior defensive tackle Adrian Grady joined Teel and Teggart on the awards list. Grady was named defensive player of the week after collecting seven tackles and two sacks in a 24-20 win over South Florida.
Associated Press Writer Pat Eaton-Robb in Storrs, Conn. contributed to this report.