If Week 5 taught us anything, it is that the Big East is now a three-team race.
Rutgers, Cincinnati and Louisville all remain perfect after a month’s worth of games. With conference leader Rutgers on their bye week last week, the Cardinals and Bearcats took full advantage of their opportunity to gain some ground.
It’s a fact Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is thankful for.
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More Conference Notebooks
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Big 12: West Virginia, Baylor set records
SEC: Texas A&M faces first SEC obstacle
Pac-12: Despite start, Cougars have hope
Big Ten: RB merry-go-round continues in Iowa
Big East: Louisville, Cincinnati keep pace
“It’s always good to have a good strong start because you draw praise across the country…and you’re drawing the attention of everyone,” Strong said.
“There needs to be a team in this conference in the Big East that can stand up and become a team that can draw everyone’s attention and people will respect. Right now you have three teams that are ranked, so it goes a long ways and I think with those three teams we can continue to play well then at the end of the year we’ll see where we’ll end up.”
Both teams are about to enter the gauntlet of conference play. Strong is confident his team has a good mentality moving forward.
“Now just the [team’s] whole mindset is totally different because they think they can go win.,” Strong said. “…just like the other night when we were down 11 points never once did we feel like we were gonna lose that game [or] that we were out of it.”
Meanwhile, after two bye weeks, Cincinnati will now have to play nine consecutive games to finish out the season. It is a challenging schedule, but head coach Butch Jones believes his team can ride the momentum of its success.
“We just have to continue to build off this,” Jones said. “Each week is a new season and I think again, that’s what makes college football special, that every game counts. We have to earn the right to stay ranked. That means improving every week, and obviously continuing to win. “
Cincinnati (3-0, 1-0 Big East)
• QB Munchie Legaux hit Damon Julian with 13 seconds remaining for the wining score to complete his team’s 27-24 comeback win against Virginia Tech on Saturday. Legaux took command of the Bearcat offense, passing for a career-best 376 yards and three TDs. Leguax has increased his passing total each game and seems to be getting more comfortable in the offense.
• This is the second time this season that a Big East team has beaten Virginia Tech.
Next Game: vs. Miami (Ohio) Oct. 6
• The Huskies continue their streak of only winning every other week with a victory against South Florida. UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer posted yet another solid game with 227 yards passing and a touchdown.
• Running backs Lyle McCombs and Martin Hyppolite combined for only 157 yards rushing last Saturday. UConn’s ground game ranks only 111th in the country. With a young quarterback like Whitmer, the Huskies will need a more balanced attack when they travel to face the tough Rutgers defense next week.
Next Game: at Rutgers Oct. 6
No. 19 Louisville (5-0)
• A torrential downpour caused quarterback Terry Bridgewater to take a backseat last weekend against Southern Miss. as the Cardinals went to the ground game with Senorise Perry, who hit up the Golden Eagles for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
• Louisville is the first team in the Big East to five wins and will begin their seven-game conference series after their bye.
Next Game: at Pitt Oct. 13
Pittsburgh (2-2, 0-1 Big East)
• After a week to recover, coach Paul Chryst looks to continue his team’s impressive turnaround. Chryst said the extra preparation time would be more about correcting mistakes than extra game planning.
“The focus this week will be just on …that we gotta get better at it and we’ll have a pretty good work week,” Chryst said. “Each position group has some areas that you just take a look at. This week as coaches we will certainly get a jump on that game plan but as far as our practices the main focuses will be on ourselves.”
Next Game: at Syracuse Oct. 5
No. 23 Rutgers (4-0, 1-0 Big East)
• The Scarlet Knights lead the Big East after back-to-back road wins. Now, after a week off, coach Kyle Flood is making sure his players are focused on Connecticut on Saturday.
“Even if you don’t read the press clippings, there are students on-campus who are reading them and family members that are reading them and what I’ve said to the players is its about expectations,” Flood said. “Our expectations going into the bye [was] that there are things we are going to get better at …and then when we transition [over] to game week we’re gonna do everything we can to be 1-0 [Saturday].”
Next Game: vs. Connecticut Oct. 6
South Florida (2-3, 0-1 Big East)
• The normally explosive offense of the Bulls was held in check most of the game by the stingy Seminole defense. Quarterback B.J. Daniels scored USF’s only touchdowns, both on the ground, and was held to only 143 yards passing.
• With close to eight minutes to go in the third quarter, the Bulls trailed the fourth-ranked Seminoles by only three and looked like they just might make a game of it when Florida State signal caller E.J. Manuel threw his only touchdown pass of the day and left the Bulls behind.
• USF is now in a tailspin after three consecutive losses. Next week’s conference matchup at Temple may just be the Bulls’ defining moment of the 2012 season.
Next Game: vs. Temple Oct. 6
• The Orange are losing control of the season and head coach Doug Marrone’s seat is getting warmer by the week. With an extra week to prepare for their first conference game with Pittsburgh, Marrone feels his team is rested and this week will provide valuable time to get ready for the matchup.
“For us again this is probably the healthiest that we’ve been,” Marrone said. “[This week I need to be] Going back and really looking from a quality control standpoint and really pointing out the mistakes that I’ve made that have kept this football team back and try to work on specific details to get the players over the top.”
Next Game: vs. Pittsburgh Oct. 5
• The Owls came into their bye riding a two-game losing streak, but head coach Steve Addazio thinks his team’s mistakes are correctable and Temple has the dedication to keep the season alive.
“There is great effort, there are young guys that are improving, we’re competing, we’re in every football game right now.,” Addazio said. “The bye week you wish you were playing, but we’ll take advantage of it and get ready to play a really good South Florida team.”
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