What did we learn in the Big East after Week 11?
1. Cincinnati is beatable. The Bearcats were the only unbeaten team going into this week, but that all changed after a 24-21 loss to West Virginia. You have to give Cincinnati major props for fighting back from a 10-point deficit behind backup quarterback Munchie Legaux. After a shaky start, he really showed his ability to run with the football and nearly led his team to another comeback win. Cincinnati still controls its own destiny -- win out and it's BCS bound. But there are now doubts about whether or not the Bearcats can run the table without starting quarterback Zach Collaros, who hurt his right ankle in the game. The door to the Big East title was not kicked open today. It was pushed open, and now it is up to the Bearcats to shut it closed again. Do they have what it takes with games remaining against Rutgers, Syracuse and UConn?
2. Then there were five. As in five teams right behind Cincinnati with two league losses. There are numerous scenarios for each of these teams to try and win the league title. I will try to go over all of them in the conference race update post Monday. Everybody needs Cincinnati to lose one more time. Then it all depends on the tiebreakers -- first is head-to-head record. If those are tied, then it goes to BCS standings. With no teams set to crack the BCS standings this week, we can only guess as to which team would be highest. UConn is the only team that does not have at least five wins in this league. Parity at its finest.
3. Louisville growing pains. Last week, after the Cardinals beat West Virginia for their third straight win, coach Charlie Strong wondered whether or not his team had learned anything after their September win over Kentucky. Louisville followed that game with a loss to Marshall. This time around, Louisville followed up the West Virginia win with a loss to Pitt at home. This is still a young team that has a lot of growing up to do, especially on offense. When the run game doesn't work, this offense doesn't work. The defense gave up a season-high 200 yards rushing after being so good against the run all season. The Cardinals have to find consistency.
4. USF returns. The Bulls we thought we were going to see this season finally showed up in the Big East play during a thorough win over Syracuse. They got a great performance from B.J. Daniels; the defense was solid against the run for a second straight week; and now the Bulls return home for their final three games of the season. If they play the way they did against Syracuse, they should win at least one of the remaining games against Miami, Louisville and West Virginia. This team (5-4, 1-4 Big East) is too talented to be sitting at home during bowl season.
5. Super receivers. What can you say about what Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu has done this season? A healthy Sanu, playing receiver exclusively, set a school and Big East record for single-season receptions after catching 13 passes against Army. He now has 94 receptions for 973 yards, ranking sixth in school history for single-season receiving yards. While he leads the league in receptions, West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey leads in yards. He went over the 1,000-yard mark with his seventh 100-yard game of the season in a win over Cincinnati. Bailey now has 1,037 yards and needs 7 yards to set the school record for single-season receiving yards.