Big East Fails To Impress (Me)
I keep hearing about how the Big East is better than we think it is. That we’ll be really impressed if we actually watch them play. That, as the commentators said during the game last night between No. 21 South Florida and No. 8 Cincinnati, if nothing else they’ll show that they can play defense; that they’ll hit you in the mouth.
Really? That sounds exciting. Let me know when that starts.
Two years ago, when West Virginia was at its peak and UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati and Rutgers all turned into contenders with their surprise seasons, I grudgingly admitted that the Big East was pretty good.
That may or may not have been withheld until West Virginia trounced Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, but still.
Since then, the Big East has reverted to its losing ways. The beginning was highlighted by last year’s Orange Bowl, when a pretty bad No. 19 Virginia Tech beat up on an even worse No. 12 Cincinnati. The only way the ACC can win a BCS Bowl – pit them against the Big East.
And No. 19 vs. No. 12? This is the Bowl Championship Series? Three top-10 teams missed out on BCS games while we were subject to the number 19 team versus the number 12 team in truly one of the worst sports viewing experiences of my life.
Cincinnati scored in the first quarter. That was it for them for the game. The two teams combined for 27 points and five turnovers. Cincinnati’s Tony Pike had a 43.2 QB rating in the game. Tyrod Taylor of Va. Tech was marginally better with a 58.9.
The ineptitude continued last night as, once again, a big Big East matchup failed to live up to the billing in Cincinnati’s easy 34-17 win over South Florida. The stats look pretty good overall (aside from South Florida racking up 12 penalties for 113 yards), but if you actually watched the game, you saw a couple of teams that just don’t look like they’re up to snuff.
I don’t want to take anything away from Tony Pike. He and his receivers made some great plays last night. However, South Florida also helped pave the way for them with some awfully big mistakes.
Take South Florida’s third possession, for example. The Bulls managed to march down to the Cincy 27-yard line. On third and three, B.J. Daniels rushed for no gain. Then, rather than going for the field goal to tie the game, they called a passing play (for a QB who has been better at running than passing), had an incomplete pass and walked away from the Bearcats 27 yard line with no points.
Despite that poor decision, they had a great chance on the next possession. South Florida got the ball after its defense forced three straight incomplete passes by Pike. What does South Florida do? Throw an interception that leads to the first TD for the Bearcats.
Two possessions later, after they had already sacked Pike once, South Florida had a chance at a safety on 3rd and 17, but the blitzing defender whiffed and Pike completed a beautiful pass along the sideline to convert the third down. On the next play, one South Florida player had an offside penalty and a late-hit penalty to hand Cincy 20 yards for free. Four completed passes later, the Bearcats had a 17-7 second quarter lead.
So, Cincinnati made some plays, but their first two TDs came because of South Florida miscues. And the game continued like that. Even when Pike had to leave with an apparent aggravation of the plate that he has from when he broke his arm last season, replacement QB Zach Collaros passed for 72 yards on just four completions and rushed 10 times for 132 yards and two TDs.
It was just a sloppy game all around that failed, yet again, to sell me on the Big East being any good at all. And with the way that South Florida dominated Florida State earlier this year in B.J. Daniels’s first college start, the question must be posed – how bad is the ACC?