Chat with Brian Bennett
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett will stop by to talk some football.
Bennett joined ESPN.com in August 2008 after nine years at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., where he covered college sports and the University of Louisville beat. He lives in Louisville.
Send your questions now and join Bennett Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Brian Bennett (4:01 PM)
Hello again, everybody. I'm here to take your questions for about 45 minutes today. Let's get it started
How much more is riding on Cincinnati's game Saturday than just a better ranking?
Brian Bennett (4:02 PM)
A loss wouldn't be all that damaging. But a win could get Cincinnati even more national notice. It's conceivable that the Bearcats could creep up into the Top 10 range, and after that, well anything can happen. It would also be a good feather in the Big East's cap.
Any chance Navy changes it up and come out throwing against Pittsburgh this Saturday?
Brian Bennett (4:03 PM)
Navy threw it around a little bit at Ohio State, and Ricky Dobbs is certainly capable of doing so. Given how good Pitt's D-line is and how shaky the secondary looked at Buffalo, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Midshipmen throw a little bit more than we're accustomed to seeing.
Steve (New Jersey)
Hearing rumors that the B12 / Big East Bowl in Yankee Stadium is on, any confirmation?
Brian Bennett (4:04 PM)
I wrote about it last Tuesday. It's not official yet, but it's very close. While I don't like the idea of yet another bowl, I think New York City is a great place to have a game and will be a lot of fun for fans (except maybe the weather during the game).
I just have to say first that last weekend's ND/UM game is one I will never get over as an ND fan just like the 05 USC game. Is it still possible for this ND team to go 10-2 and reach a BCS game?
Brian Bennett (4:05 PM)
Possible? Yes. But that's one they should have had, and now the margin for error is razor thin. Unless Notre Dame can somehow beat USC at home, then it can't lose another game. This week's game against Michigan State, then, is critical.
Grant Lieberman (syracuse )
Brian... what do you think the chances are the syracuse pulls the upset this week and how do you think the Paulus experiment is going for Syracuse? GO CUSE!
Brian Bennett (4:08 PM)
I've thought since this summer that this might be their best chance of the first three, simply because the Orange will have a couple of games under their belt in the new system and will be at home. Of course, they should have beaten Minnesota but couldn't hold on. Northwestern is pretty good though, and Syracuse's offense is going to have to be a whole lot better. On the whole, Paulus has done pretty well, but that's compared to the low standard of offensive performance the program set the previous four years.
Brian, Do you think Jarrett Brown is the best QB no one is talking about nationally? and how good do you really see WVU being? Thanks!
Brian Bennett (4:09 PM)
The best? I don't know about that. But he's awfully good, which is no surprise to me since I've thought that since I saw him this spring. He made some tremendous throws Saturday at ECU. I think more people are starting to notice, and a big game at Auburn will only help his cause.
The UConn spread is around 10... I feel UConn's defense is too good to lose more than 10, what do you think
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
I don't worry too much about point spreads but here's what I think about that game: Baylor is going to score some points at home with Griffin running around. How is UConn going to score? The offense has been putrid, and now it's turning to a backup QB who's had a stomach virus all week. I think this is a tough matchup for UConn.
What team has had the most disappointing 2 weeks to start this season? Do you see it turning around for them?
Brian Bennett (4:11 PM)
Nationally, I don't think it's any question that it's Colorado. In the Big East, probably UConn, given that so much more was expected from the new offensive system.
Jason Strickland (Colorado Springs)
Brian,Is South Florida just sand-bagging against these lesser opponents - not showing anything but vanilla - or are they in a world of hurt come FSU a week from Saturday (not to mention the BE schedule)?
Brian Bennett (4:13 PM)
While I'm sure the Bulls have held some stuff back, let's be honest: It shouldn't matter how vanilla you are against Wofford and Western Kentucky. Superior talent should equal blowout victories. South Florida has let both those teams hang around far too long. I think it's a product of this being a young team with several players taking on new roles. It may take a while for everything to mesh.
Brian, Now that we have seen a couple of games, who do you think looks the best in the Big East, and who would be your top 3 teams to battle for a Big East championship and why?
Brian Bennett (4:14 PM)
No question that Cincinnati has been the most impressive thus far, but it's early. I think the Bearcats, Pitt and West Virginia right now look like the top three contenders because they simply have more answers on both sides of the ball than anybody else.
43rd Parallel (Michigan)
Does the WVU defense have a real chance against Auburn's magnificent offensive line and running game if Scooter Berry and Reed Williams cannot play?
Brian Bennett (4:15 PM)
That would be a big problem for West Virginia if both those guys are out. The smoke signals from Morgantown seem to indicate that Williams will play but Berry might not.
The CJ in Louisville had an article about the defensive line for UofL, saying that it was going to be one of the strong points of the defense. Is that a good sign, or bad, as you have stated before there is no one really on the line with much skill?
Brian Bennett (4:16 PM)
I didn't see a whole lot from that defensive line that impressed me during the preseason. The Cardinals should have more depth now, which is good. But I don't see them being able to put a ton of pressure on the quarterback, and they might not have the speed to match up with playmakers like Randall Cobb.
If this NYC Bowl goes through, what year would it make its debut?
Brian Bennett (4:17 PM)
It would start next year, 2010
Brian, there seems to be a small but recent jump of unrest around Cincinnati regarding Coach Kelly leaving after this year. In your opinion and based on your years covering Louisville, what is it going to take to raise enough money for the practice fields or stadium expansion at UC - and while I know you can't predict the future, do you see anything on the horizon that signals Coach Kelly is out of Cincinnati after this year?
Brian Bennett (4:19 PM)
You probably won't like this answer, but there's nothing much that the school can do to keep a coach who has stars in his eyes. Oh, sure, you can give him a raise and build new facilities. But Cincinnati is just never going to be offer as much money as a big-name school like Florida or Notre Dame or somebody on that level. It will just come down to what Kelly wants. Does he want to keep building at Cincinnati or try to reach for the brass ring somewhere else? I know schools will be coming after him this offseason.
Do yo think Schiano has taken Rutgers as far as he can or do you still see some potential to make them a perennial top 25 team?
Brian Bennett (4:20 PM)
I think that Rutgers can definitely go up from here. Look at who's playing right now, and you'll see a lot of true freshmen. The future is still bright, despite that terrible opener.
CINCY IS RANKED 17 IN THE NATION. OSU ISN'T RANKED AT ALL. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE BEAVERS ARE FAVORED? DOES SOMEBIDY KNOW SOMETHING?
Brian Bennett (4:21 PM)
Oregon State is on the edge of the Top 25 and has won 26 straight nonconference games at home. That's a tough place to play, not to mention the travel.
Hey Brian, what is going on with Geore Selvie? He has 6 tackles and 1 sack verse the cupcake teams. Do you think his production will get back to the expectations, or will he continue to struggle like last season?
Brian Bennett (4:22 PM)
I haven't broken down a lot of South Florida's games, but I'm guessing teams are double- and triple-teaming him a lot. I know he didn't play the whole game against Wofford. Like the rest of the team, his true test starts next week.
Brian, I'm sure you saw Memphis hired former Big East Commisioner Mike T. as a consultant - what impact does this have, if any, on Memphis eventually joining the Big East?
Brian Bennett (4:23 PM)
Tranghese had said that he wanted to get into consulting work after he retired, so in that sense it's not a surprise. One has to assume, however, that Memphis would like to use this connection to work its way into the Big East at some point.
Alan (East Lansing)
With Michigan State looking very good in the first game and somewhat falling apart in the second game, do you think they can turn their season around against ND and then go on to battle for the Big Ten title? Or will Notre Dame finally stop getting beat by the Spartans in South Bend aka Spartan Stadium South?
Brian Bennett (4:24 PM)
I think Michigan State is a notch below Penn State and probably Ohio State in the Big Ten. But this is as big a game for the Spartans as it is for Notre Dame, and MSU's physicality has given the Irish problems in the recent past.
Re: UConn... "So much was expected of their new offensive system." After only 2 weeks? According to whom? Isn't that a bit overstated?
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
I was asked who was the biggest disappointment in the first two weeks. I would think it has to be UConn, of all the Big East teams. They've scored 33 points in two games after all this work to transform the offense, and the passing game has been worse than last year. That's all.
Hey Brian, I understand the Big East is down from last year talent-wise, but do you think that if the conference does as well as it has in the past playing non-conference opponents that they will garner more respect from the media in the future. Or are they just always going to be the bastard child bcs conference.
Brian Bennett (4:26 PM)
Winning cures all ills. These next two weeks are big for the Big East to show that it's better than people think.
Sean (Cleveland, OH)
Brian, what do you think WVU will have to do to beat Auburn Saturday? WVU has a 5 game winning streak versus the SEC to uphold.
Brian Bennett (4:28 PM)
First and foremost, they'll have to stop a running game that's been putting up ridiculous numbers the first two games. That may prove a little tougher is Scooter Berry is out.
Whats your opinion on how will Dion Lewis and the Pitt RB's be in Big East play
Brian Bennett (4:29 PM)
Lewis might not rack up as many yards as he's gotten against two bad defenses so far (Youngstown State and Buffalo) but he and the running game should be just fine. The offensive line is playing really well right now.
Haven't heard much about arthur jones so far this year. Why is he not being talked about when last I saw he was in the top 10 or 15 in the mock drafts. Has he slipped or is Paulus getting his coverage
Brian Bennett (4:30 PM)
Defensive tackles just don't get a lot of publicity unless they're putting up huge numbers, like Jones did at Notre Dame last year. Most teams know to double team him, which is something the Irish decided not to do last year for some reason.
Brian, whats your opinion on WVU's game with CU is it as big as everyone thought it may be and will it actually help the conference build any recognition should WVU beat CU soundly or will it just be like another FCS or lower leverl FBS win in the eyes of the nation?
Brian Bennett (4:32 PM)
The way Colorado has played, I think the national conversation after a West Virginia win would be about how bad the Buffs are and Dan Hawkins' situation. That's just how it is. West Virginia needs to put away a struggling team in that one.
In your opinion, who is the best team in Ohio?
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
I don't know, but I'd sure love to see Cincinnati get a crack at the Buckeyes this year.
Brian, What would Tony Pike have to do or Jarrett Brown for that matter to get serious contention for the Heisman this year?
Brian Bennett (4:33 PM)
Win lots of games. Realistically, that's the only way to get into the discussion. Go undefeated or 11-1 and put up insane numbers.
John Z (Morgantown)
Brian, where would you put ND on the BE power rankings list? Michigan?
Brian Bennett (4:34 PM)
Interesting question, John. I think both Notre Dame and Michigan are legit, from what I saw last weekend, but not elite teams. I think either of them would be in that top three mix I mentioned earlier.
Chris (Wash DC)
Not much is being said about how Cincy's D has performed so far this year. SEMO was not as big as a test as Rutgers was but to hold RU to 50 yds on the ground was good. Everyone was chattering about replacing 10 starters but no comments on how they have performed. How do you think they have recovered since losing 10 on D?
Brian Bennett (4:36 PM)
They've played surprisingly well. Now, to your stat about the Rutgers rushing game, you must remember that the Scarlet Knights all but abandoned the running game after falling behind early, and a bunch of sacks played into those numbers. It was an impressive game, but Rutgers didn't have its act together. This week's game will be a really good litmus test for that rebuilt 'D.'
Barney (London, England)
Do you think this week is a must win for Uconn to save their season, even though its still nonconference?
Brian Bennett (4:37 PM)
Cheerio. I don't think it's a must-win, per se, but expectations may have to be lowered with a loss. It's going to be hard to do much better than 7-5 if they lose to Baylor.
Hey Brian, what do you think of USF's "Toro Loco" and do you think we might see Grothe, BJ Daniels and Evan Landi all on the field at once?
Brian Bennett (4:38 PM)
I like it, because they may be the only team out there with three legit QBs on the field at the same time. Alas, Landi is hurt and may not play this week, so we may have to wait a while to see all the tricks that formation can offer.
Hey Brian,With Mike T. now working for Memphis, what team would leave the BE to make room for Memphis? DePaul? Also, would this lead to an expansion to possibly 12 teams? It just seems like the football and non football schools are going to have to split up at some point.Thanks for the thoughts!
Brian Bennett (4:40 PM)
Let's slow that down a little bit. There's nothing like that in the works right now.
What do you think about Lindsey Lamar for the Bulls and do you think he should replace Mo Plancher as the starter?
Brian Bennett (4:41 PM)
Mo just ran for over 100 yards last week. Lamar is good, and really fast, but Leavitt said he trusts Plancher more.
Eric (Morgantown )
Don't you think the trio of Devine, Arnett, and Austin will be the fastest players on the field down in SEC country Saturday night?
Brian Bennett (4:42 PM)
Don't forget Jock Sanders. I'll say this: West Virginia sure looked like the faster team last year in Morgantown. Speed is not a problem for the Mountaineers
Daniel (Charleston, WV)
If WVU wins at Auburn Saturday, where do you think we end up in the rankings? I know we'er getting votes in about every poll (except for ESPN, go figure), so a win on the road in SEC country would (should) propel us intp the top 25.
Brian Bennett (4:43 PM)
Depends on what other teams ahead of them do. West Virginia has a lot of teams to leapfrog right now to get in the poll.
Terry (Denver CO)
What's your opinion of the ongoing rebuilding job at Pitt by Dave Wannstedt? I happen to think he's merely one D1-worthy QB from possible starting a mini-dynasty.
Brian Bennett (4:44 PM)
I'm not sure about dynasty, but he won nine games last year and is 2-0 already this year with a lot of talent on the roster. I'd say the program is back to respectability, and now it's time to make the next step.
37-20 WVU saturday night. Mark it down!
Brian Bennett (4:45 PM)
Check back next week and we'll discuss if you were right
Which three conferences have the best winning percentage against other BCS teams, the MWC, and Notre Dame over the last three seasons? 1) SEC (56%), 2) Pac-10 (55%), and, drumroll please.......3) Big East (53%)...by the way, the MWC is in the Top 6 (6th, at 46%), with the ACC 7th at 44%. So, why the attacks on the Big East when the ACC is clearly the inferior conference based on its on-field performance? MWC is barking up the wrong tree. Agree or disagree?
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
Big East has done well in its nonconference games in recent years. The only problem is that most of them have come against mid-tier teams from the ACC other places. Not a lot of wins over Top 10, Top 15 types. But there will be more on the schedule in the next few years.
Brian Bennett (4:46 PM)
I've got to run. Sorry to cut this a little short, but work calls. Thanks for all the questions. Good luck to your teams this weekend.