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Big East stock report

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Stock up

1. Pitt: At 8-1 and a Top 10 ranking in November for the first time since 1982, the Panthers are at their highest point in a quarter-century. And Notre Dame is coming to town for a sold-out game at Heinz Field. Can the Panthers continue their climb?

2. Julian Miller: The West Virginia defensive end was named Big East defensive player of the week for his three-sack performance against Louisville. The Mountaineers weren't sure about their defensive line outside of Chris Neild and Scooter Berry going into the year (remember the Tevita Finau saga?) Miller has shored that up with team bests of 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.

3. UConn's grit: We knew the Huskies were tough the way they hung in there after the Jasper Howard death. To come back from 20 points down in the second half on the road against a Top 5 team and nearly pull off the victory was an amazing feat.

4. Darius Ashley: The Louisville freshman running back wasn't used much early in the season, then hurt his shoulder against Pitt. With Vic Anderson and Bilal Powell sidelined Saturday, Ashley carried the ball a whopping 33 times for 164 yards.

5. Adrien Robinson: With Ben Guidugli still slowed from a concussion at Syracuse, Robinson took on a bigger role as Cincinnati's tight end against UConn. He had two catches for 74 yards, including a ridiculous 54-yard grab off a batted ball that set up an important field goal at the end of the first half.

Stock down

1. Syracuse's depth: Already battling roster problems -- the Orange had just 55 scholarship players available for the Pitt game -- Syracuse lost star defensive lineman Arthur Jones and starting offensive lineman Jonathan Meldrum to season-ending knee injuries this week. It could be a struggle to find enough bodies to finish the season at this point.

2. UConn's defense: Credit the Huskies for never quitting, but they should use the bye week to figure out what's wrong with the defense. They have given up big plays at the end of games to lose and got stomped for 711 total yards by Cincinnati. The secondary is a major question mark.

3. Noel Devine: Stock is down only relevant to where he was two weeks ago, when we were calling Devine a Heisman Trophy contender. Since then, Devine has run for 42 yards at South Florida and 56 versus Louisville before being sidelined with an ankle sprain. The Mountaineers must have a vintage Devine performance on Friday at Cincinnati.

4. Cincinnati's defense: From third in the country in scoring defense, allowing an an average of a little more than 12 points a game, to surrendering 45 to a Connecticut team not known for being explosive. Yep, that stock has gone down. Is it a one-week blip in the market, or a more problematic long-term concern?

5. The Big East's bowl hopes: Notre Dame's loss to Navy took the Irish off the BCS table, which means the Irish are firmly pointing toward taking the Big East's spot in the Gator Bowl and moving the No. 2 league team to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Big East should root for Pitt and UConn to beat Notre Dame the next two weeks, and then hope Stanford takes care of business Thanksgiving weekend to make the Irish ineligible at 6-6.

Player of the year race: Offense

1. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: The Big East's leading rusher at 1,139 yards on 203 attempts, with 12 touchdowns.

2. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati: The Big East's leader in receiving yards, with 65 catches for 908 yards and eight touchdowns.

3. Bill Stull, QB, Pittsburgh: The Big East's leader in passing yards and pass efficiency; he's has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 1,879 yards and 17 touchdowns, with four interceptions.

4. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Fallen back a bit after the past two games. He has rushed for 1,010 yards on 167 attempts this season, with 10 touchdowns.

5. Zach Collaros, QB, Cincinnati: Yes, that's right. Collaros not Pike. If you credit Collaros with the South Florida win -- the game was very much in doubt when he came in after Pike's injury -- Collaros has won four Big East games and will start a fifth this week. For the season, he has completed 76 percent of his passes for 1,229 yards and 10 touchdowns, with only one interceptions. He's also run for 288 yards and four scores.

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Mick Williams, DT, Pittsburgh: Leads the league with 13 tackles for loss, has three sacks and has forced three fumbles.

2. Kion Wilson, LB, South Florida: Leads the Bulls with 61 tackles. Had some strong comments before the Rutgers game and needs to back them up Thursday night.

3. Julian Miller, DE, West Virginia: See above.

4. Aaron Webster, S, Cincinnati: Has three interceptions and 42 tackles.

5. Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh: Has 7.5 sacks and and an interception.

Newcomer of the year

1. Dion Lewis, RB, Pitt: See above.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, South Florida: Has 9.5 sacks, and interception and a forced fumble.

3. Tom Savage, QB, Rutgers: Has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,341 yards and and eight touchdowns with one interception.

4. Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: has 32 catches for 291 yards and has run 10 times for 55 yards.

5. Darius Ashley, RB, Louisville: See above.