There are too many remaining scenarios to count when it comes to crowning a Big East champion. The loss by Pitt at UConn last Thursday brought the Panthers back to the pack. Pitt has one league loss with three league games to go. Syracuse is 4-2 in conference play with just one league game remaining (at home against UConn Saturday) plus a non league game against Boston College. South Florida is 3-2 with two league games left (home against Pitt on Saturday and then home against UConn on Dec. 4) plus a non conference game against Miami. The Mountaineers and UConn are both 2-2 with three league games remaining. Only Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati look to be out of it with three league losses each. Although each of those teams have opportunities to become bowl elidible as none of the teams at the bottom of the league standings have more than three league losses.
If the Mountaineers win out, they will claim at least a share of the conference title. WVU could get some help and capture the league’s BCS birth. But first, a win on the road would be nice. WVU’s last road win came on Sept. 10 against Marshall. WVU will play its next two s away from home at Louisville Saturday and then at Pitt on Nov. 26.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong wouldn’t comment on the status of quarterback Adam Froman Monday. Froman has missed the last two games with a deep thigh bruise after starting the first eight games of the season.
"No update on Adam," Strong said Monday morning.
Senior Justin Burke has started in Froman’s absence .
Louisville is coming off a heart breaking 24-21 overtime loss at home to South Florida Saturday. The Cardinals overtime possession ended when quarterback Justin Burke was stopped on 4th an inches. South Florida then won the game with a 37-yard field goal. Louisville blew an 11 point lead in regulation.
"You just have to bounce back," Strong said. "It was a tough loss, but the thing is that we have two games left to go play."
Louisville will host the Mountaineers at noon on Saturday.
Conference leader Pitt plays at South Florida also at noon Saturday. Right now, it may be the Bulls may be playing the best football of any team in the league. South Florida has won three consecutive conference games following an 0-2 start. The Bulls have averaged 314 yards of total offense during the streak while cleaning up the turnover problem that plagued them in their two conference losses. South Florida has turned the ball over just twice in three weeks after suffering five turnovers in losses to Syracuse and West Virginia.
"It’s really rewarding as a coach to see these guys come together ," South Florida coach Skip Holtz said.
Keeping that winning streak going certainly won’t be easy.
"I really believe they are the most talented team in the league," Holtz said of the Pitt squad that will visit Raymond James Stadium this week.
"They are one or two in this league in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles," Holtz said of the Pitt defense. "Their defensive front is very strong and very active."
" Pitt is still in the drivers seat in the conference race as the only one loss. team and the Panthers have the capability to win out. But their next two opponents seem improved. South Florida has won three straight. And WVU’s offense finally broke through with 37 points in the win over Cincinnati.
Pitt leads the all-time series with the Bulls, 3-2, and has won the past two games in the series.
"We didn’t play clean like we had the past three weeks," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said of the UConn loss. "Our kids under stand that I think. It’s far enough along in the season and they know what we’re playing for.
"We’ll bounce back," Wannstedt concluded.
Another tough break for Pitt defensive end Greg Romeus. Romeus has suffered a second major injury this season and he will now be out for the rest of the season. Romeus underwent back surgery following the season opening game against Utah. He recovered from that and came back last Thursday against Connecticut only to suffer a torn knee ligament on a play were he was rushing the quarterback.
Romeus was limited to just two games this year a season after winning Co-Big East Player of the Year honors.
UConn has back to back upset wins over WVU and Pitt at home and the Huskies are right back in the title hunt. Connecticut is 5-0 at home so far this year and 0-4 on the road as the Huskies prepare to play at Syracuse Saturday at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.
UConn churned up Pitt on the ground last Thursday as the conference’s leading rusher, Jordan Todman, rolled up a career high 222 yards on 37 caries.
"Our offensive line played really well," UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "The five offensive lineman, the three tight ends we had in there at different times in the game and our fullback Anthony Sherman did a very good job on assignments and blocking. That gave Jordan the opportunity to hit the holes.
"He ran hard, read his blocks and just did a good job."
UConn iced the game on a gutsy call when Edsall decided to go for it on 4th and 1 at its own 19 yard line with 2:30 remaining. Todman got four yards when he needed one. Todman remains second in the country with an average of 147 yards per game. Amazingly, he was left off the list of Doak Walker Award semi-finalists.
"I am extremely disappointed," Edsall admitted when asked about the slight of Todman who has followed up last year’s 1,000 yard rushing season with 1,176 yards so far through just eight games after missing one with an injury. "Here is the second leading rusher in the United States of America and he doesn’t even make the final ten? I think that is unheard of.
"But we don’t focus on that," Edsall continued. "We focus on the team and if the individual honors come along, then so be it. So many things now days are so political and we try not to get caught up in the political game."
UConn had the league’s defensive player of the week in senior linebacker Lawrence Wilson. Wilson had 11 tackles including a sack. The Connecticut defense forced four turnovers and had three sacks. Wilson leads the Big East with 95 tackles on the season.
Syracuse just keeps finding ways to win despite a series of injuries and substantial lack of depth on the team.
Syracuse, with seven wins, is bowl elidible for the first time since 2004. The Orange will play their final Big East game this week and then they’ll close the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 27 against Boston College.
The two last place teams in the league will meet Saturday night at Cincinnati as Rutgers visits. Both teams are 1-3 in the league.
Rutgers has had quarterback issues all season long. The latest twist was the use of freshman receiver Jeremy Deering out of the wildcat. Deering had 29 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown during the loss to Syracuses . The carries were the most for a Rutgers player since Ray Rice in the 2007 International Bowl. Deering also completed his only pass attempt and he had a 10-yard reception as he accounted for 181 of the team’s 280 yards.
"we are trying to use the talents of the players we have," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "We have a plan, but you don’t always know how that plan is going to go so you have to adjust as the game goes. Our plan wasn’t to have Jeremy carry the ball 29 times last Saturday, but as it was working better he was able to handle the load so we kept going to him.
"So sometimes you have to go with the ebb and flow," Schiano said.
Rutgers has also used sophomore Tom Savage, freshman Chas Dodd and wildcat runner Mohamed Sanu at quarterback this season. Sanu left the Syracuse game in the second quarter with a leg injury. Also Saturday, running back Joe Martinek did not play in the game because of injury.
"Mohamed has a leg (injury) and we won’t know until later in the week if he’ll be able to play this week or not," Schiano said.
Dodd started the Syracuse game but was benched after going 3-11 for 30 yards. Savage started the second half and was 6-12 for 76 yards.
Cincinnati fell out of the conference race with Saturday’s loss at WVU. It was the third consecutive loss for the Bearcats. Still, coach Butch Jones has found plenty of positives and plenty to play for.
"The message is real clear among the players and staff," Jones said. "We have to stick together . Our loyalty and character are both being tested. But that’s a good thing.
"We are still playing for a bowl game," Jones said. "But that is all down the road. We have to concentrate on the task at hand and the effort it is going to take (to beat Rutgers this week.)
"They are the best defense we’ve seen to date with creating turnovers and stripping the ball," Jones added. "We all know the problems we’ve had hanging on to the football.
Cincinnati committed four more turnovers in the loss at WVU giving them a conference high 19 for the season.