Strange road atop of Big East
Notebook: Syracuse rides surge while USF struggles continue
Rutgers lost its first game of the year in ugly fashion, making Louisville the only undefeated team left in the Big East. Rutgers’ setback was to Kent State (7-1), a Mid American Conference school, leaving the Scarlet Knights undefeated in Big East play and at the head of the conference but showing some ripples in the armor.
“Seven turnovers,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. “Very difficult to win a football game when you turn it over seven times.”
The Scarlet Knights committed more turnovers against Kent State than they had all season (six). Six of those turnovers were interceptions from quarterback Gary Nova, but Flood says the whole team shares responsibility for the loss.
“All the reasons we’ve been standing here talking about how we’d won games protecting the football, running the football, field position…and really all three of those phases hurt us in one way or another,” Flood said.
Louisville on the other hand has been flat-out finding ways to win. The Cardinals have come from behind in the second half to win its last four games.
“I look at this football team and I think I can say that when you talk about tenacity, you talk about finish, you talk about resiliency and that’s what you look at with this football team,” Louisville coach Charlie Strong said.
Louisville boasts a complete team, and does not need to rely too heavily on one side of the ball the way Rutgers does. Strong says his team believes in it leaders like their sophomore signal-caller.
“When you have a quarterback like Teddy Bridgewater you’re sitting there knowing that he’s gonna make the throws and make some plays,” Strong said.
Regardless, both coaches know there is still plenty to play for this season both on the confernce level and for bowl positioning.
“We are 8-0 but still we have yet to put to put together a 60-minute game,” Strong said. “We need that to happen.”
“A lot of things in our league will be decided in those last four games,” Flood said.
Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1 Big East)
• The Bearcats held a 10-point lead against heavily favored Louisville in the third quarter before finally falling in overtime. George Winn lead the way on offense for the Bearcats, piling up 125 of Cincinnati’s 196 rushing yards. Butch Jones may lean more heavily on the ground game as quarterback Munchie Leguax tossed three picks in the loss, the last one coming in overtime to set up Louisville for the winning score.
Next Game: vs. Syracuse Nov. 3
Connecticut (3-5, 0-3 Big East)
• Huskies' coach Paul Pasqualoni can notch the 150th win of his coaching career if Connecticut can get a road win against a South Florida team that has yet to win a game in the Big East.
• UConn has quietly risen to the top of the defensive rankings in the conference, ahead of both Pitt and Rutgers in total defense.
Next Game: vs. South Florida Nov. 3
No. 12 Louisville (8-0, 3-0 Big East)
• A career day from QB Teddy Bridgewater and an opportunistic defense lead the Cardinals to an overtime victory. Bridgewater threw for 416 yards and hit DeVante Parker twice for touchdowns in the forth quarter. The Cardinals put up 524 yards of offense, their highest total of the season and their fifth game with more than 400 yards of offense.
Next Game: vs. Temple Nov. 3
Pittsburgh (4-4, 1-3 Big East)
• The up-and-down Panthers hung yet another 40-plus points on their opponents, this time against the in-state rival Owls. Quarterback Tino Sunseri was 20 for 28 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. While Sunseri was good, it was running back Ray Graham who shouldered the load for Pitt, racking up 180 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns.
Next Game: vs. Notre Dame Nov. 3
Rutgers (7-1, 4-0 Big East)
• A season-worst seven turnovers by the Scarlet Knights inevitably lead to their first loss in a game where Rutgers only led for 4 minutes into the first quarter. The 312 yards passing and two touchdowns were not enough to make up for six interceptions by QB Gary Nova.
Next Game: vs. Army Nov. 10
South Florida (2-6, 0-4 Big East)
• It took a Syracuse desperation play with 3 seconds remaining to turn what could have been a season-changing win into yet another Bulls’ loss. USF relied heavily on its run game to cut down on turnovers. USF rumbled for 369 yards with 145 and a touchdown coming from tailback Lindsey Lamar and 134 from quarterback B.J. Daniels.
Next Game: vs. Connecticut Nov. 3
Syracuse (4-4, 3-1 Big East)
• The Orange overcame a 23-3 half-time deficit to get their third win in four weeks. Quarterback Ryan Nassib hit Alec Lemon with only 3 seconds remaining to get Syracuse back to .500 on the season and 3-1 in league action.
• Nassib unleashed an aerial assault in second half, throwing four touchdowns, including the game winner. Nassib compiled 328 yards passing, with 127 yards going to Marcus Sales in addition to two touchdowns.
Next Game: vs. Cincinnati Nov. 3
Temple (3-4, 2-2 Big East)
• The Owls fell behind 31-7 at the half and could never recover, losing their second consecutive Big East matchup. The Owls have now been outscored 82-27 in the past two games.
Next Game: vs. Louisville Nov. 3