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Big East Fails To Impress (Me)

with 4 comments

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 FloridaCincinnati 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?

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Written by Austin Swafford

October 16, 2009 at 9:40 am

Posted in Big East, Commentary

4 Responses

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  1. I think the Big East is good…..in basketball. I don’t agree that cincy is a bad team. I think that they have a high powered offense that can work wonders to get to the endzone. True they pretty much had to make the big plays to actually score most of the time but Zach Collaros and their receivers are spot on when it comes to talent. I really couldn’t care less if Collaros only passed for 72 yard, if he blasted South Florida on the ground (which he did) then kudos…you gotta remember those stats that he got were compounded in less than one half of football. Cincy is still my pick for Big East, I do not agree with the commentators saying that Pitt and West Virginia are going to be big bumps in the road for Cincy, I also would like to see how it plays out if Cincy goes undefeated because unlike TCU and Boise St., Cincinnati is actually a BCS school.

    Jon Castano

    October 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    • I think you missed my point. My point wasn’t that he only passed for 72 yards. It’s that he passed for 72 yards on just four completions. That’s 18 yards per completion. That’s ridiculous. I can’t believe the big plays South Florida was giving up. That was my point. And this was supposed to be a fairly strong defensive team in the Big East. So much for that.

      Austin Swafford

      October 17, 2009 at 1:25 am

  2. Who, South Florida????? Yeah I am sorry but I never ever considered them a strong defensive team. I watch some of their past games and knew they were vulnerable to big plays, Cincy just matched up well against them.

    Jon Castano

    October 17, 2009 at 2:00 am

    • That’s great that you saw those holes, but South Florida had been averaging a little over three forced turnovers per game, including 11 just against Syracuse and Florida State. They held Charleston Southern to 188 yards of offense. Not that I’d brag about dominating Charleston Southern, but that same Charleston Southern team had 323 yards against Florida. South Florida was generally considered to be a defensive power in the Big East. So my point is, if the Big East’s defensive power can be so easily dissected, how good can the conference be? My point isn’t that South Florida didn’t actually have holes. My point is that people keep making these statements about the Big East (like that they play great defense and hit you in the mouth) that don’t really seem to be that true.

      Austin Swafford

      October 17, 2009 at 5:08 am


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