One Crazy Conference
Charlie Strong continues to surprise at Louisville.
By: Steven Lassan | 11/8/10, 5:27 PM EST
Half of the Big East football teams were off last week. And Pittsburgh was one of those with a bye. Which worked out quite nicely for the Panthers.
Among those in action was second-place Syracuse. The Orange went against a Louisville team without two of its key players — running back Bilal Powell and quarterback Adam Froman. Still, the Cardinals won 28–20, giving Pitt, 3–0 in league play, a nice cushion.
The Panthers now have a two-game lead in the loss column against the other seven teams. And all they have to do to win at least a share of the conference title is go 2–2 or better the rest of the way.
Who would have thought? Pitt has a strangehold on the Big East after playing just three league games.
“The Big East is crazy,” said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano after his team’s loss. “Who knows what is going to happen?”
Well, there are a few things we know. We know the winner of this week’s South Florida-Louisville game will secure bowl eligibility. Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse also become bowl-eligible with wins this week.
We also know a few coaches have jump-started their programs. Syracuse fell to Louisville, but the Orange, a former league doormat, remains in second place at 3–2. Then there are the stories of South Florida’s Skip Holtz and the U of L’s Charlie Strong.
After a very sluggish start to the Big East season, USF is now in third place at 2–2 and in bowl contention. On Wednesday, the now 5–3 Bulls picked up their second straight win and snapped a four-game series losing streak against Rutgers. South Florida offensive tackle Jacob Sims recovered a fumble in the end zone to give the Bulls the lead for good.
Bulls’ back Moise Plancher had his career’s best game with 135 rushing yards on 21 carries. He also had three catches for 45 yards. Defensively, linebacker Jacquain Williams had 11 tackles and was in on two key fourth-quarter sacks.
Louisville, meanwhile, continued its surge under Strong by winning at SU’s Carrier Dome, marking the first road win after 12 straight league losses. It was all the more impressive without Powell, who entered as the nation’s fifth-leading rusher, and Froman.
“This was a win that I think gets this program heading in the right direction,” Strong said. “I told them there was going to be a win where they started believing in each other. This is one.”
Running back Jeremy Wright stepped in for Powell and ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Justin Burke threw a pair of touchdown passes.
South Florida 28, Rutgers 27
Louisville 28, Syracuse 20
Moving on up
Syracuse fell to Louisville, but running back Delone Carter, who ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, moved into fifth place on the Orange’s all-time career rushing list. He now has 2,724 yards.
Much of the focus surrounding Rutgers’ team this season has been on the quarterback position. Chas Dodd or Tom Savage? Last Wednesday, though, RU almost won without a scoring contribution from the position. The team, with Dodd at the controls, received 13 points from its special teams — Mason Robinson scored on a 60-yard punt return and San San Te hit a pair of field goals. Receiver/Wildcat back Mohamed Sanu had a game-high seven receptions for 48 yards and also threw a 21-yard TD pass.
The rich get richer
It looks more and more like Pitt will get the services of defensive end Greg Romeus for this Thursday’s game at Connecticut. Romeus, one of the nation’s highest-rated ends, returned to practice last week after sitting out since Sept. 17 after back surgery. Romeus has only played once this season, a loss to Utah.
South Florida had four players suffer injuries against Rutgers, but all four — quarterback B.J. Daniels (toe), offensive lineman Jamar Bass (toe), back Demetris Murray (knee) and back Mo Planchar (knee) — are expected to play Nov. 13 at Louisville.
Run, Geno, run
While West Virginia lost its last outing, 16–13 at Connecticut, one twist was increased running by Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith. He carried the ball 15 times for 64 yards, both career highs. This past week, WVU coach Bill Stewart said the thought Smith “ran the ball very well” and indicated that might continue. West Virginia hosts Cincinnati on Saturday.
Most Popular Articles
Contests & Promotions
Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing!
Enter the Athlon Sports Fantasy Racing game. Just head over to athlon.myfantasyracing.com and register for your chance to win a chance to watch a 2014 race from the grandstands. You'll also have a chance to win other amazing prizes such as an autographed Kyle Busch helmet.