Big East quarterbacks under the radar
Notebook: Rutgers dominates again; Louisville set for road test
In an under-the-radar conference, it is no surprise that an impressive quarterback play in the Big East has gone relatively unnoticed. Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), Tino Sunseri (Pittsburgh) and B.J. Daniels (South Florida) all rank in the top 10 in passing yards in FBS. Not one quarterback in the Big East has a rating below 120.6 on the season and Sunseri has the 15th-highest rating in the country at 166.8.
“I feel like we have been in sync since Day 1,” the Pitt quarterback said after tossing three touchdowns to go with 344 passing yards in a 55-10 win against Gardener-Webb.
The most impressive performance in the Big East so far this year came from Rutgers' Gary Nova. On Saturday he torched Arkansas for a career-best 397 yards and five touchdowns to help his Scarlet Knights stay perfect.
“I was not expecting that,” Nova said of his big day. “That’s a quarterback’s dream to go back and forth like that [against Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson]. Those are the moments you dream about in college football.”
However, the conference’s best quarterback and one of the top passers right now is Syracuse’s Nassib, who has the second-most passing yards in the country with 1,367 to go with his 10 touchdowns.
“I think Ryan isn’t the type of kid who says ‘Oh I’m playing this team I’m going to show who I am,’ ” Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of ... the leadership that Ryan has provided for this team.”
The Big East is the only conference with three quarterbacks in the top 10 yardage totals in FBS.
Cincinnati (2-0, 1-0 Big East)
• The Bearcats are coming off a bye week to face a talented Virginia Tech team. The Bearcats are still smarting from their loss against Pitt, which sent them tumbling out of the top 25. Cincinnati’s 12th-ranked rushing attack, led by running back George Winn, will square off against VT’s 23rd-ranked defense. The Bearcats are 4-5 all-time against the Hokies.
Next Game: vs. Virginia Tech Sept. 29
• Quarterback Chandler Whitmer threw the first three touchdowns of his short Huskie career on Saturday to put his team in a position to win, throwing a touchdown pass with 2:21 left in the game to put UConn within six. One failed onside kick later and coach Paul Pasqualoni’s squad is still looking for back-to-back wins in 2012. However, the strong offensive performance says the Huskies are getting more balanced.
Next Game: vs. Buffalo Sept. 29
No. 19 Louisville (4-0)
• The Cardinals outlasted a 1-3 Florida International team in a performance that did not nothing to help its top-25 ranking. Louisville was outgained and lost the time of possession and turnover battles, but a fourth-quarter drive featuring running back Jeremy Wright helped ensure the win.
• Cardinals' quarterback Teddy Bridgewater threw his first two interceptions of the season, but balanced his performance with two more touchdown passes. Louisville will travel to Southern Mississippi Saturday for its second of three consecutive road games.
Next Game: at Southern Mississippi Sept. 29
Pittsburgh (2-2, 0-1 Big East)
• The win last week against Virginia Tech looks to have lit a fire under the Panthers as their 55 points against Gardner-Webb were the most scored by Pitt in one game since 1999. Running back Ray Graham, who started the scoring with a 78-yard touchdown run, sees even bigger things for the offense down the stretch.
“We can be deadly because we have a lot of weapons,” Graham said. “I think that once we get going we’re going to be hard to stop and I think that we only can stop ourselves.”
Next Game: at Syracuse Oct. 5
No. 23 Rutgers (4-0, 1-0 Big East)
• The Scarlet Knights are quietly atop the Big East as the win against Arkansas vaulted them into the Top 25. Rutgers' 14th-ranked defense gave up more than 13 points for the first time this season, but added two interceptions to give it six on the season, tied for third in FBS. The Scarlet Knights will head in to a bye week before they defend their top spot in the conference against three consecutive Big East opponents.
Next Game: vs. Connecticut Oct. 6
South Florida (2-2, 0-1 Big East)
• After starting the season hot, USF now find itself on a two-game losing streak. USF’s B.J. Daniels made plays with his arm and his legs, throwing for 312 yards and three touchdowns while totaling 75 yards on the ground. Turnovers continue to be Daniels’ Achilles heel, as he threw two more picks against Ball State, one with less that a minute left in the game as the Bulls were nearing the red zone.
• Skip Holtz’s team will need to fix their problems quick since they play host to fourth-ranked Florida State, which has the sixth-ranked defense in the country.
Next Game: vs. Florida State Oct. 29
• Alec Lemon’s nine catches on Saturday gave him the Orange career record of 145. However, for first time in four games, the Orange failed to score more than 20 points as Minnesota shut down Syracuse’s potent offense. Nassib, who entered the game averaging 379.6 passing yards per game, was held to 228 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and a fumble.
• Freshman running back Ashton Broyld made it four turnovers for the Orange after he fumbled at the Minnesota 23 yard-line. Head coach Doug Marrone will get two weeks to work on ball protection before his team has to host Pitt.
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh Oct. 5
• The Owls failed to reach the end zone until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter and rushed for just 113 yards. Penn State controlled the game from the beginning, with quarterback Matt McGloin shredding Temple for 318 yards and a touchdown.
“You give a quarterback that much time back there [and] they’re going to make their plays,” Temple head coach Steve Addazio said.
Addazio will need to find some way to generate a pass rush and soon, with South Florida and QB B.J. Daniels coming for Homecoming in two weeks.
Next Game: vs. South Florida Oct. 6