The Big East once again finds itself in the uncomfortable position of trying to prove itself against the big boys. For years now, the critics call the Big East the bottom feeders of the BCS. Some even say the Big East should lose it’s automatic BCS bid.
So far this season, the Big East has struggled in out of conference games. The conference has gone 4-9 against FBS schools, and just 1-6 against the five other power conferences.
The lone win was a West Virginia victory over Maryland, of the ACC.
Last season, the Big East was 9-7 when matched up against BCS schools but two of those wins came against a lackluster Notre Dame team. This season, Connecticut was picked by many as a surprise team out of the Big East. The Huskies were upset last weekend by Temple.
Pittsburgh was thought to be the team to beat this year in the Big East. They opened the season with an overtime loss to Utah. The Pitt Panthers get a chance at redemption this weekend when they host the 19th ranked Miami Hurricanes.
That game is one of four big out of conference matchups this week. Rutgers hosts North Carolina and Cincinnati hosts 8th ranked Oklahoma. The marquee matchups is Saturday night when #22 West Virginia travels to #15 LSU.
Can the Big East pull off a couple victories this weekend against top notch opponents?
You would have to think Cincinnati has no shot at beating Oklahoma. The Bearcats have not looked good so far this season and enter this game with a 1-2 record. Their lone win came against Indiana State by a score of 40-7. The Bearcats have lost to Fresno State and North Carolina State, both on the road.
Pittsburgh and Rutgers offer the Big East the best chances this weekend. Pittsburgh has looked up and down so far. They have had their moments when they look like a good solid football team, and other times they look bad. Can they put it all together against an athletic Miami squad? The Panthers defense will need to contain Miami quarterback Jacory Harris. The Miami QB is a dual threat type player.
Pittsburgh will have to deal with the loss of stand out defensive end Greg Romeus to a back injury. The Panthers will look to get their running game on track with sophomore Dion Lewis. I give Pittsburgh the advantage playing at home at Heinz Field.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights host a North Carolina squad that is still without 12 players, including many defensive starters. Don’t let that fool you however, the Tar Heels are a very talented group and well coached. The North Carolina offense is explosive and can score quickly.
Rutgers will need to avoid giving up the big play, something their defense has been prone to doing. Offensively, Rutgers is likely without starting running back Joe Martinek. They could try to expose a young, inexperienced Tar Heels secondary. Or will they try to get the running game going.
West Virginia travels to Baton Rouge to host an LSU team that is very tough. At this point in the season, West Virginia has developed into the Big East’s best team and only ranked team. The key here will be the Mountaineer’s offense. I expect to West Virginia defense to hold it’s own against an LSU offense that sputters at times, but can Noel Devine and the offense get it going against an athletic, tough LSU defense? If this game was in West Virginia, I would not hesitate to say they would win. But, it’s not.
What would be a successful weekend for the Big East? Is a split in these four games enough to prove it belongs with the elite? Or do they need to win three of these games? Requiring the conference to win all four just wouldn’t be fair, would it?
Double G Sports calls for Cincinnati to get beat up at home against Oklahoma while Pittsburgh and Rutgers get close wins at home and West Virginia to pull off the road upset and beat LSU. Let’s hear your predictions….