There are no more undefeated teams in the New Big East after Louisville fell at Syracuse this weekend. Louisville drops to #2 in the power rankings this week behind Rutgers. Louisville has a great offense but struggles defensively while Rutgers continues to shine on defense enough to let its offense do enough to win. Their season-ending battle should be a fun one.
As I continue to do these rankings, it is becoming more and more clear how important a new TV deal is to the conference. The current one isn’t just low paying, it’s terrible exposure. For example, two of the top three teams in conference face off this week (Rutgers at Cincinnati). That’s a matchup between a top-25 team and a team that is receiving votes and can have a significant impact on who gets to go to a BCS bowl game this year, and it is being shown on the regional Big East Network. And while that is bad, it’s worse for lowly Memphis. This upcoming week’s game at UAB will be the third consecutive week Memphis gets no TV coverage – not even ESPN3 – for a game. For the season, Memphis will have 5 games with no TV, 2 on ESPN3, and 5 on regional TV. That’s not a great lineup for a school trying to pull itself out of the cellar of D-1A football. The new TV deal will not only infuse cash into schools, but also increase the national profile of the conference on the whole.
On to the power rankings!
1. Rutgers (8-1)
Last Week #2; This Week: Won 28-7 vs. Army
Army scored on the opening drive of the game, then Rutgers’ defense and special teams stepped up and shut them out for the remainder. The Scarlet Knights forced three fumbles and blocked 2 punts, giving their offense shorter fields to work with. After tying the game at 7 on an 11-play, 74-yard drive in the 1st quarter, Rutgers had just two drives over 10 yards. Their final three scores came on drives of 45 yards, 1 yard, and a returned fumble. Rutgers heads to Cincinnati this weekend (Big East Network, Noon).
2. Louisville (9-1)
Last Week #1; This Week: Lost 45-26 at Syracuse
Louisville’s defense finally cost them a game this weekend, which is odd to say given that their defense ranks in the top 40 nationally. But there’s really no other way to put it when Teddy Bridgewater goes off completing 36 of 49 passes for 426 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Senorise Perry was lost for the year with a torn ACL (just announced today) as the Cardinals’ ground game was held to under 100 yards for the first time all year. Louisville gets a bye this week before playing UConn.
3. Cincinnati (7-2)
Last Week #3; This Week: Won 34-10 at Temple
A week after coming off the bench to lead the Bearcats to victory, Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay got his first career start over a struggling Munchie Legaux. He finished with an efficient 244 yards, 2 TDs, and no interceptions while adding 71 yards rushing. The Cincinnati defense did their part as well, forcing 7 punts, an interception, and a turnover on downs. Cincinnati hosts Rutgers on Saturday (Big East Network, Noon).
4. UCF (8-2)
Last Week #4; This Week: Won 31-24 at UTEP
The Knights struggled with UTEP, allowing the Miners to tie the game with two touchdowns in the 4th quarter. But UCF stud running back Latavius Murray gained 46 of his 117 yards on the next drive as he scored the game-winning touchdown. The Knights can’t feel great about the game being so close despite forcing 4 UTEP turnovers, but a win is a win, and this one keeps the Knights undefeated and atop the C-USA East division. This weekend we get what could be a preview of the C-USA title game as UCF travels to face Tulsa, who is the West division leader and also 6-0 in conference play (FSN, Noon).
5. SDSU (8-3)
Last Week #5; This Week: Won 28-9 vs. Air Force
San Diego State effectively ended Air Force’s hopes of a Mountain West title when they beat the Falcons this past weekend. They did so thanks to an opportunistic offense that scored 21 points off of 4 turnovers. SDSU reached 8 wins for the third consecutive season and are now huge Air Force fans as they need the Falcons to beat Fresno State on Nov 24th in order to keep their hopes of a MWC title alive. In the meantime, SDSU gets a bye this week before traveling to Wyoming.
6. Boise State (8-2)
Last Week #6; This Week: Won 49-14 at Hawaii
Boise rebounded from last week’s loss to SDSU by thoroughly beating Hawaii this past weekend. They dominated every phase of the game. A balanced offensive attack paired with a defense that forced 5 turnovers turned a 7-7 tie in the first quarter into a blowout as Boise scored six unanswered touchdowns. But the game was not without some struggles for the Broncos. When faced with 3rd downs, Boise converted just 4 of 16. They did manage to convert 4 of 5 4th-down tries. Boise needs Wyoming to beat SDSU to have a shot at the MWC title, but they still have two conference games of their own, starting with a trip to Colorado State this weekend (NBCSN, 3:30pm).
7. Navy (6-4)
Last Week #7; This Week: Lost 41-31 at Troy
Troy opened up a 21-0 lead and Navy couldn’t manage to completely close the gap despite outstanding games from Keenan Reynolds and Gee Gee Greene. Navy’s defense struggled all day to stop Troy’s offense, and the tackling looked as bad as the Notre Dame game. Even through all of that, it was a 3-point game at the start of the 4th quarter. Navy comes home this weekend to face a Texas State team that gave #19 Louisiana Tech all they could handle on Saturday (CBSSN, 3:30pm).
8. SMU (5-5)
Last Week #8; This Week Won 34-6 vs. Southern Miss
SMU extended the misery for winless Southern Miss, who didn’t have a drive of 40 yards or more all day long. SMU forced 8 punts and 2 interceptions and held the Golden Eagles to 178 yards of offense. SMU QB Garrett Gilbert passed for a touchdown and ran for two more as he accounted for 343 total yards. The Mustangs head to Rice this weekend (CSS, 3:30pm).
9. UConn (4-6)
Last Week #12; This Week: Won 24-17 vs. Pitt
In a tale of two halves, the Huskies opened up 24-0 halftime advantage and held on as Pitt scored 17 unanswered points in the 2nd half. UConn running back Lyle McCombs had his second 100+ yard game of the year, picking up 120 yards and a TD on 29 carries. The daunting task of winning out takes a breather this weekend as UConn heads to a bye week before traveling to Louisville on the 24th.
10. Houston (4-6)
Last Week #9; This Week: Lost 41-7 vs. Tulsa
There’s no shame in losing to Tulsa. There is a little shame in giving up 41 points, turning the ball over 4 times, and managing just 22 minutes of possession. Tulsa’s defense held Houston well below their season average of 497 total yards, yielding just 262. Meanwhile, the Golden Hurricane’s 11th-ranked rushing offense continued churning along with 350 yards. Houston has to win out for a bowl, starting with Marshall this weekend (CSS, Noon).
11. USF (3-6)
Last Week #11; This Week: Bye
After losing BJ Daniels for the year, USF head coach Skip Holtz has yet to announce a starter for this week’s game at Miami. While freshman backup Matt Floyd came in to the game two weeks ago to replace Daniels, Holtz is considering burning the redshirt year currently being used junior QB Bobby Eveld. Either way, this game will be a matchup of two teams that are struggling for consistency (FS Florida, 3pm).
12. Temple (3-6)
Last Week #10; This Week: Lost 34-10 vs. Cincinnati
Temple is officially the 2nd team in the New Big East to be eliminated from postseason play thanks to their loss vs. Cincinnati. The game was probably over before it started, but it certainly didn’t help that Temple’s leading rusher, Montel Harris, left the game in the 2nd quarter win an injury. Temple heads to Army this weekend (CBSSN, Noon).
13. Memphis (2-8)
Last Week #13; This Week: Won 37-23 vs. Tulane
Memphis got their 2nd win of the season this past weekend. A Tulane field goal tied the game at 16 halfway through the 3rd quarter, but Memphis scored 21 consecutive points after that. The teams combined for 8 turnovers, including three Memphis interceptions of Tulane QB Ryan Griffin, who had thrown just one interception all year prior to this game. Memphis heads to UAB this weekend (No TV, 2pm).