Welcome to your midweek mailblog. Thanks for all your questions. One correction at the top: Earlier this week I said Pitt receiver Devin Street had career highs for catches and receiving yards. His six catches were a career high, but the receiving yardage was not.
Now one question for the readers out there. Jake in Phoenix asked if I could provide a weekly update on TCU so everybody can get acquainted with the Horned Frogs before they join the league. I already follow them, so it would be easy for me to do. Let me know in the mailbag or in the comments section whether this would be something you want to read on the blog.
On to your questions:
Bob Nelson in Robbinsville, N.J., writes: Andrea, I think you're doing a great job covering the Big East (yes, here it comes) but shouldn't Notre Dame have to win a game before being projected to play in the Champs Sports Bowl?
Jeff Middleton in Wilmington, Ohio, writes: How is it possible for the Bearcats to be No. 7 in the power rankings but in your Bowl projections you say they are better than UofL, UConn, and Rutgers?
Andrea Adelson: When I do the bowl projections, I try to project how I see the season ending. So that means I project Notre Dame to have at least seven wins, and Cincinnati to be better than Louisville, UConn and Rutgers.
Bullology in Orlando, Fla., writes: AA, you consistently tempered your expectations for USF because of three new starters on the offensive line (including a redshirt freshman). I know it has only been two games (one of which was against Ball State) but have you seen anything in the offensive line play thus far to make you a little more confident in the group's ability?
Adelson: I have seen plenty. The fact is, USF has probably had the most consistent offensive line play of all Big East teams, which is an accomplishment considering the new starters. That being said, I think the Bulls would be even happier if the running game develops a little bit more. They have been good, but not outstanding there, and have more time to work on that before Big East play begins.
Tommy Zoccola in Memphis writes: Hey I'm a big UConn fan here and I'm a bit mad at your recent power rankings. Not because of how low you put us but of how high. We deserve to be No. 7. When our offense gains less than 200 yards and our starting quarterback throws three picks against an average at best vandy team, we almost deserve the cellar.
Adelson: Tommy, I have to tell you it was really, really hard to determine the order of teams 5-7. A case can be made for all of them to be flopped around. I thought about putting UConn at No. 6, but the defense and special teams played much better than Cincinnati's. Rutgers could have been ahead, but the Scarlet Knights converted five turnovers into 12 points and had 1 yard rushing. So yeah, distinguishing from those three schools was tough. I ended up with UConn ahead because the Huskies were the closest to winning the game, despite the inept offense.
Larry McClain in Sacramento, Calif., writes: You have Mark Harrison as your second-best receiver in the conference and he is the second-best receiver on his own team. Did you happen to see the North Carolina game? C'mon man!
Adelson: C'mon man, is right! How do you think I feel when I have him ranked so highly and he looks so average?
Joe in Greenwood, Ind., writes: Butch Jones has to be the worst coach in America. To stand there with your arms crossed and not challenge a terrible spot for a first down is inexcusable. It is also clear the defense wasn't on the agenda for the last nine months at Cincinnati.
Adelson: I would not call Jones the worst coach in America. I am not sure challenging the spot would have gotten the first down. But I will agree it was very disappointing to see the defense play that way. All summer we were told they would be better. I do think they had some bad matchups in the secondary, but that is no excuse. Giving up 400 yards passing should never happen.
Vernon Applegate in Hampton, Va., writes: Andrea, how can you continue to nothing but bad mouth RU. From where I sit, there may not be a team in the Big East right now capable of beating them. Their D will win them lots of games on their own.
Adelson: Vernon, you were not the only one to write into the mailbag this week asking why I have given Rutgers no credit. So when a team loses, should I just ignore that and focus on the positive? I believe I mentioned the five takeaways on defense. In a video today I mentioned their stellar play in the turnover department. But that being said, the offensive line is playing poorly, and the running backs are playing poorly. So much so that Greg Schiano is considering revamping the entire line, and already has changed up his running backs rotation. Getting five turnovers is great. But converting them into 12 points? Failing to score on four tries from the 2? Say what you will about not having the two runs challenged, but from my vantage point they were not touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu and Mark Harrison dropped touchdowns. I have to tell you, it is pretty tough to lose a game when you are at plus-5 in turnover margin and your opponent has 9 penalties. Tell me how Rutgers is going to beat Big East teams without a run game or better play on the offensive line. I am sure you love your team. But you clearly are wearing scarlet-colored glasses when you say that there is no team capable of beating Rutgers this season.