No. 23 Cincinnati 70, SE Missouri State 3
Cincinnati looked like Texas Tech this past week, as they pummeled a Division 1-AA opponent by 67 points. There is no sense in boring you with the stats, since SEMS was unable to put up much of a defense. What is more interesting is that the Bearcats are ranked No. 17 in the new AP Poll, up from 23. Moving up six spots by crushing a Division 1-AA team? This just proves that people respect high-scoring offenses, even if they pad their numbers against weak opponents.
Next week Cincinnati takes its Big East-best offense on the road to face Oregon State. This will be a good test for the Bearcats and the Big East. The Beavers are a quality Pac-10 club, but this is a game Cincinnati must win to prove that the Big East can hang.
Rutgers 45, Howard 7
After a terrible opening game, Rutgers made a quarterback switch, promoting freshman Tom Savage. The changed worked against Division 1-AA Howard, but we will have to wait a few more weeks to see if the Scarlet Knights are really improved.
No. 7 Penn State 28, Syracuse 7
A 21-point loss may not be good for the Orange, but it is certainly an improvement, especially since this game was in Happy Valley. Last season, I was at the Carrier Dome to witness Penn State throttle the ‘Cuse 55-13. This game was nothing like that one. Syracuse is still a bad team, but there is nothing wrong with losing to Penn State on the road.
West Virginia 35, East Carolina 20
Last season East Carolina knocked off both Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Entering this season, some analysts picked the Pirates as a potential sleeper BCS team. Well, West Virginia quickly put those dreams to bed. The Mountaineers offense was unstoppable all game, recording over 500 yards. Next week WVU goes on the road to face Auburn. This will be another test for the Big East. Auburn is not great, but any victory over the SEC is a good one.
Pittsburgh 54, Buffalo 27
Don't be fooled by this score. Buffalo is not a terrible team. Time will tell if Pitt can continue this offensive output, but this is an impressive win, especially on the road.
No. 19 North Carolina 12, Connecticut 10
UConn's 2009 home opener saw a visit from the ranked Tar Heels. This was a win the Big East could have really used to assert itself against a bigger conference. Instead, the Huskies managed to lose a sloppy game on a terrible play. With less than two minutes to play, UConn faced a 3rd-and-22 from their own 8-yard line. The Huskies managed to pick up the first down, but the play was called back because of a holding penalty. Since the penalty occurred in the end zone, it resulted in a safety.
In two games, UConn's offense has looked bad. They need to find some way to move the ball and put some points on the board.
South Florida 35, Western Kentucky 13
During the game, South Florida's fourth-year starting quarterback Matt Grothe became the Big East's all-time leader in career total offense. He currently has 10,702 yards.
For the second straight week, South Florida beat a severely inferior opponent. Next week will be more of the same, when they face Charleston Southern.
What We Learned
1. Syracuse appears to be moving in the right direction.
2. West Virginia proved that last season's loss to East Carolina was an aberration.
3. Although he will never be an NFL quarterback, South Florida's Matt Grothe is one of the Big East's all-time most prolific quarterbacks.
Big East Respect Barometer
Like last week, several Big East teams continue to use the early season to beat up on weaker opponents, which — let's be honest — proves nothing. Also, UConn's home loss to North Carolina was a missed opportunity for the conference as a whole. On the flip side, the fact that conference doormat Syracuse lost by only 21 points at Penn State is a plus. Also, Cincinnati's offensive output continues to draw national attention.
So far the teams in the league have done little to discredit themselves, but, like I said, they haven't really proven much. Of the six BCS conferences, the Big East is still last in the respect rankings.
But the real challenge starts next week. The Big East has teams playing against the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and SEC. None of the Big East teams' opponents are ranked, so all of the games are winnable. In terms of respect, next week is a very important one for the Big East.