Big East power rankings, Week 9

We have a new leader. One that looks conspicuously like the leader from the offseason:

1. Pittsburgh (4-3, 2-0 Big East): Pitt has scored 86 points its past two games and is the only team in the league that's still undefeated in conference action. Looks like the Panthers are hitting their stride at the right time, and it's hard to argue for anyone else here.

2. Syracuse (5-2, 2-1): The Orange have two conference road wins, and their only league loss is to the team now No. 1 in these rankings (albeit by a whole bunch of points). Again, hard to argue against Syracuse here, as surprising as that may still sound.

3. West Virginia (5-2, 1-1): The Mountaineers have to hope Saturday's upset loss to Syracuse was merely a hiccup. The schedule is still favorable, and if they win out, they likely will win the Big East unless you believe the Orange won't lose again.

4. Cincinnati (3-4, 1-1): The defense has allowed 65 points in the last two weeks. Somehow the Bearcats made South Florida look like an offensive powerhouse. I keep thinking this team is on the verge of turning the corner and doing good things, but time is rapidly running out. (And by the way, Nos. 4 through 7 on this list are pretty much interchangeable at this point.)

5. Louisville (4-3, 1-1): The Cardinals have matched last year's win total and are vastly improved from a season ago, as demonstrated in their 26-0 drubbing of UConn on Saturday. Two more wins, and they'll be bowling for the first time since the '07 Orange Bowl.

6. South Florida (4-3, 1-2): Friday's 38-30 win at Cincinnati was by far the best performance of the season by the Bulls. Was it a one-week wonder, or has this team finally figured some things out?

7. Rutgers (4-3, 1-1): Let's review the past five weeks for the Scarlet Knights: home losses to North Carolina and Tulane, a three-point win over a fading UConn club, an overtime escape against Army and a 20-point loss at Pitt. Yuck.

8. Connecticut (3-4, 0-2): The Huskies' 26-0 loss at Louisville -- off a bye week, no less -- wasn't even as close as the score indicates. UConn is a disaster right now, and with West Virginia coming to town Friday night, the season is teetering on the brink of utter collapse.