It was not a good week for a lot of the members of the New Big East. With no league games on the docket, opportunities were plentiful to increase win totals against mostly middling competition. Unfortunately, 5 of the 9 teams that played this weekend lost and some of those that did win did so with their share of struggles. 6 teams hit the road and 4 of them returned home with a loss. Of course, this does nothing but muddle the middle of the conference and make the power rankings as much as a crapshoot after 4 weeks as they were after week 1. But on the positive side, the New Big East has 3 teams ranked in the AP poll (Louisville #19, Rutgers #23, and Boise State #24).
1. Louisville (4-0)
Last Week #1; This Week: Won 28-21 @ FIU
Teddy Bridgewater came back down to earth a little this week, but still did enough to get the Cardinals a win at FIU. Throwing more incomplete passes than he had in the previous three games combined, he was also picked off for the first time (actually, first two times). FIU was able to grab a 14-7 2nd quarter lead, but Louisville scored the next 21 points. A 4th-quarter Bridgewater interception gave FIU the ball deep in Louisville territory and set up the Panthers’ only 2nd half score, closing it to 28-21. But the Cardinals were able to pick up three first downs and run out the clock. They and their undefeated record head to Southern Mississippi this Saturday (CBSSN, 8pm).
2. Rutgers (4-0)
Last Week #3; This Week: Won 35-26 @ Arkansas
When you can give up 303 yards recieving and 3 TDs to a WR (like Rutgers did with Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton) and still win by a two-possession margin, you’re doing OK. Coming into the game, I expected more from Rutgers’ defense, but never would have guessed that QB Gary Nova would go off like he did. 397 yards and 5 TDs later, Rutgers walked away from Fayetteville with a win and another can of gas poured on the dumpster fire that is Arkansas football. The Scarlet Knights head to UConn this weekend (ESPNU, Noon).
3. Cincinnati (2-0)
Last Week #2; This Week: Bye
I hope Cincinnati is well rested. After playing just two games in the first 4 weeks of the season, they head to FedEx Field to play Virginia Tech this weekend (ESPNU, 3:30pm). They won’t have another weekend off until after their season finale at Connecticut on December 1st. With Virginia Tech looking vulnerable, the Bearcats could be looking at a 6-0 start and a matchup of undefeateds with Louisville at the end of October.
4. Boise State (2-1)
Last Week #4; This Week: Won 7-6 vs. BYU
Had this game happened in the SEC, I’m sure we would have had a montage on Sportscenter of how awesome a defensive battle it was. But the truth, much like the truth of last year’s Bama-LSU slogfest in the regular season, was that neither team had much of an offense. Boise forced 5 turnovers (and never turned it over themselves) and held BYU to 200 yards, 95 of which came on BYU’s last possession and only scoring drive. After the late TD, Bronco Mendenhall rolled the dice (against a team that had no faith in their kicker) and went for a two-point conversion that fell short. The highlight of the night, of course, was the defensive TD by the Broncos’ nose tackle, Mike Atkinson, after he picked off BYU QB Riley Nelson and rumbled 36 yards to paydirt. It’s clear Kellen Moore is missed, but looking at the MWC schedule for Boise, it’s possible they don’t lose again before heading to Nevada in their season finale. Boise opens that conference schedule this week at New Mexico (local TV only, 6pm).
5. UCF (2-1)
Last Week #7; This Week: Bye
Now we get into the messier part of the power rankings. UCF moves up to #5 by virtue of a bye week and their inability to notch a loss against it. This week they’re visited by a Missouri team that’s been pounded on during their first two SEC games, the latest a 31-10 loss at South Carolina (FSN, Noon).
6. UConn (2-2)
Last Week #5; This Week: Lost 24-30 @ Western Michigan
It’s never a good look to drop a game to a directional Michigan school, even if you are on the road. UConn never led in the game. The Huskies were in Western Michigan territory with less than 8 minutess to go in the game, down by a touchdown, but a 53-yard fumble return for a TD by the Broncos put the game out of reach. With Rutgers coming to town, it’s likely the Huskies fall below .500 for the first time this year (ESPNU, Noon)
7. USF (2-2)
Last Week #6; This Week: Lost 27-31 @ Ball State
In a game that went back and forth, it was Willie Snead’s 11th and final catch that gave the Cardinals the victory over the Bulls. BJ Daniels continues to put up BJ Daniels stats – 19/30, 312 yds, 3 TD, and 2 INT – and losing in the most BJ Daniels of ways. After starting at the USF 13 with just 1:02 to go, Daniels drove the Bulls to the Ball State 28 yard line and then was picked off at the 10 to end the game. Of course, all of that will be forgiven if the Bulls can somehow pull off the monumental upset when #4 Florida State visits this weekend (ESPN, 6pm).
8. SDSU (2-2)
Last Week #8; This Week: Lost 28-34 vs. San Jose State
If you just look at who they have lost to, I could probably move SDSU up ahead of UConn and USF in the rankings of 2-2 teams. San Jose State doesn’t seem to be the laughingstock team they were just a couple of years ago (great news for Navy, whom the Spartans visit this weekend), with their only loss being by 3 to now #8 Stanford. But wins over Army and North Dakota don’t really prove a lot, and so they stay below the other 2-2 teams. The Aztecs head to Fresno State this weekend for a late game (local TV only, 10pm).
9. Temple (1-2)
Last Week #9; This Week: Lost 13-24 @ Penn State
Honestly, the only reason Temple’s above Navy is because they lost to Penn State by less. When you look at the box scores and drive charts, it’s clear Navy shot themselves in the foot more than Temple did vs. the Nittany Lions. Navy’s offense put up more yards. Whatever. This is the anti-homer ranking of the week. Temple gets to be the best 1-2 team – hooray. They have a bye this week before South Florida visits October 6th.
10. Navy (1-2)
Last Week #11; This Week: Won 41-3 vs. VMI
It started out extremely ugly. So ugly that Navy QB Trey Miller was on the verge of getting pulled in the 1st half after turning the ball over twice. But Coach Niumatalolo stuck with Miller and it paid off. While the Navy defense harassed VMI all afternoon, allowing just 3 drives of more than 25 yards, Miller got his act together and rushed for 116 yards and 3 TDs while throwing for another 107 on 50% passing. Hopefully the Midshipmen can build on this. San Jose State visits this week (CBSSN, 3:30pm) and then it’s off to Colorado Springs to take on an Air Force team that just lost to UNLV (snicker).
11. SMU (1-2)
Last Week #10; This Week: Bye
SMU just drew the short straw from the 1-2 teams thanks to their bye week. Given how badly they have lost to Texas A&M and Baylor this year, I don’t expect too much positive from the Mustangs when #15 TCU visits this weekend (FSN, 6pm)
12. Houston (0-3)
Last Week #12; This Week: Bye
The good news is you can’t lose to a bye week. The bad news is you could possibly lose to Rice this weekend at Reliant Stadium (FSN, 3:30pm).
13. Memphis (0-4)
Last Week #13; This Week: Lost 14-38 @ Duke
I don’t even know what to say about Memphis these days. They turned Duke over 4 times, never turned it over themselves, but still managed just 152 yards and 9 first downs. I guess it’s good that Memphis had the lead a couple of times in the 1st half and held Duke scoreless in the first quarter. But after their TD with 9:17 to go in the first half, Memphis didn’t see the Duke side of the field until there were under six minutes left in the game. This team is bad. What does the San Jose TV market look like? Is it too late to do a swap? Memphis gets a bye this week before getting Rice at home October 6th.