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Big East Tuesday mailbag

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Since there are so many questions in my mailbag each week, and since we have a weekend's worth of games to review before we look forward, I've decided to bring the Tuesday mailbag back. There will be a mailbag on Friday, too, so you'll get a double dose of my smart-aleck answers and general lack of solutions.

Jeff from Pennsylvania writes: Do you think that it is possible that six running backs in the Big East could eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark this year? I know that this might sound impossible at first, but if you break it down it might not be that unreasonable. Victor Anderson: Close last year and Louisville's only offense; Dion Lewis: Pitt is a run-first team and looked good; Noel Devine: A lock barring injury; Jordan Todman: UConn is run-heavy offense; Delone Carter: Close in 2006 and looks to be a big part of Syracuse offense; Joe Martinek: With a freshman QB, Rutgers will be leaning on the junior. If this would happen, does this elevate the Big East to the best running conference in the country? Any thoughts?

Brian Bennett: Interesting question. Actually, Anderson did eclipse 1,000 yards in 2008, and so did Devine. I'd put them as locks, barring injury. Lewis is already a third of the way there, and I think Todman has a really good chance for the reasons you mentioned. The ones I wonder about are Carter, who has been injury-prone through his career and is playing in an as-yet unproductive offense, and Martinek, who likely will split carries with Jourdan Brooks, along with maybe Kordell Young and De'Antwan Williams. So right now, I'd put the over-under at four backs. Let's remember, though, that running backs take a lot of punishment over the course of a year, so injuries can play a big factor.


Dave from Pittsburgh writes: Brian, do you think the return of Mike Ford will help USF get out of the gates a little faster next week? Also, do you think they're just going through the motions and waiting for the Florida State game? What do you think of the ACC's struggles with FBS teams?

Brian Bennett: I'm not sure Ford, the tailback who was suspended for two games, will make that big of a difference. After all, he hasn't made a huge impact in some time for the Bulls, and he's probably a little rusty. South Florida actually had a back -- Moise Plancher -- run for over 100 yards against Western Kentucky. I'm not sure what the problem with the Bulls' slow starts is. It has to be hard to focus with games against Wofford, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern. Coaches can talk about playing them one week at a time as much as they want, but kids know the names on the jerseys. Either way, the Bulls need to get sharper.

As for the ACC, it's quite embarrassing for that league. The one thing the Big East can say so far is that it has taken care of inferior competition with no near-upsets.


Jeremy H. from Cincinnati writes: OK, I understand you don't want to make this the Cincinnati all day, all the the time blog, but not one helmet sticker for a Bearcat? Hands down the two most impressive players yesterday in the Big East and quite possibly anywhere were Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. And many teams played games against laydown opponents so you can't discredit them that.

Brian Bennett: Gilyard definitely had an impressive game, with four touchdowns. The reason I didn't include him is that I limit the helmet stickers to five players per week, and I try not to include performances against FCS teams if there are other worthy candidates. It was impossible to avoid in Week 1, but not in Week 2.


Mark from Norfolk, Va., writes: Let's be honest: out of all the schools in the Big East, Pitt is the only one with any sort of real football history and legacy. When do we turn it around and return to glory?

Brian Bennett: I think Syracuse would object to that statement. Regardless, Pitt does have a storied legacy with multiple national titles. Will the Panthers get back to that? Well, college football has changed drastically. The power and the talent is now centered in places like Florida, Texas and California, and Pitt doesn't have the same money or resources as schools in the SEC or Big 12. Can Pitt become a force in the Big East and make the occasional run at national elite status? Sure. Will it be competing for national titles every year? I don't think that's realistic.


Josh C. from Martinsburg,W.Va., writes: Can you explain how Oklahoma State can lose to Houston and still be ranked in the top 25, when West Virginia was in that same position last year, ranked the same (8th) and when we lost to East Carolina, we fell out of the polls all together. Another example of ESPN and the Pollsters being bias against West Virginia is that we beat UNC in the bowl game last year but they managed to be ranked coming into the '09 season. I believe we get no love or respect from the college world no matter what we do.

Brian Bennett: I can't speak for the voters, and I don't have a vote in either major poll. But one key difference between the two situations is that Oklahoma State had a big win over Georgia the week before, while West Virginia had only beaten an FCS school (Villanova) before the ECU loss. Beating an SEC team carries weight, which the Mountaineers may find out this weekend if they can take down Auburn. My big question is how Oklahoma State can be ranked ahead of Houston? Didn't they just play that game in Stillwater?


Kamil from Kearny, N.J., writes: Hey Brian, I read this blog daily and love every minute of it but what's with all this Rutgers hating all of the sudden. You were very "bullish" on RU prior to the first game. Out of nowhere everything you write about Rutgers tends to be negative. They had a terrible first game while they were trying to work out some quarterback bugs. They seemed to have improved in the second game but no credit was given (yes, Howard was terrible but RU only let up seven points). Let's go back to being a bit more upbeat about RU.

Brian Bennett: I don't think I've been "hating" on Rutgers. But if you're wondering why the coverage seems more negative, I can sum that up rather succinctly: 47-15.