Big East mailbag: Dissecting Week 1

A full weekend's worth of games is complete. Let's talk about it:

T.J. from Lexington, Va., writes: You have been very measured and rational in your discussion of the Big East's rough first week. However, some people are ready to call this season a disaster. I wonder why the SEC (Florida couldn't put away Miami of Ohio, Kentucky just eked out a win against a BE basement dweller, LSU almost lost (and deserved to lose) to a severely undermanned UNC team, and of course Ole Miss lost to J'ville State) doesn't have to go into panic mode after a rough start. Perhaps it is a matter of attitude rather than reality. The BE isn't as good as the SEC but BE fans and other commentators need to stop acting like we are on the verge of being the Sun Belt.

Brian Bennett: I'll agree with you to a point, T.J. The SEC didn't have a bang-up week, and the Big East played tougher competition on the road. On the other hand, the SEC might have struggled in some of those games, but it still won most of them. That's all that matters. And the SEC has all those recent national titles. The Big East is still trying to gain respect nationally, which is what made the Week 1 results so tough to swallow.

Ken from Philadelphia writes: It's no secret what Rich Rod's offense is going to do, yet everytime UConn plays one of his teams, its the same nightmare repeating for fans watching the games. Do you think it is scheme or personnel? You would think that they could have come up with something better. Also in watching that debacle, did having DE's the size of safeties and DT's the size of DE's finally catch up to them?

Brian Bennett: It's not the X's and O's, it's the Jimmies and Joes (or in this case, the Patricks and the Denards. Uh, that doesn't rhyme as well). I think the one thing Rodriguez has exploited is the Huskies' lack of elite speed on defense, and having a powerful Big Ten offensive line did expose Randy Edsall's lack of size on the defensive front. All that said, I expected Michigan to score. My prediction for the game was 31-28 for UConn, and Michigan scored 30. I was really disappointed in the Connecticut offense, which sputtered away far too many opportunities against a defense that should have been ripe for the picking.

Corey from Hurricane, W. Va., writes: A couple of years ago I remember telling "The Blog" that the UConn-Michigan matchup was ill-conceived by the Huskies due to Edsall's horrid track record against Rodriguez's speedy offense. Now that Denard Robinson gave his best Pat White impersonation last Saturday, do you still believe this series was a good idea for UConn?

Brian Bennett: I do. The exposure alone was worth it for the Huskies, as a lot of people were talking about this game. Not to mention the experience for the players and the fans who traveled to the Big House as part of the largest crowd ever to see a college football game. Sure beats opening at Ohio.

Justin C. from Grafenwoehr, Germany, writes: WVU hasn't exactly shut down inferior teams in season openers in recent years. Liberty scored 20 last year, Villanova scored 21 in '08, Western Michigan got 24 in '07. This year we not only shut out Coastal Carolina, but the Chants didn't even get in the red zone. Maybe I'm reading too much into a victory over an overmatched Big South squad, but I think Sands, Hogan, Neild, and company have a chance to be special on that side of the ball. ... Add all that to the holes the other predicted contenders showed in their losses and I think some pundits would like to recast their preseason conference champion vote. I know it's a long season but I feel confident about my Mountaineers this year -- even the trip to Baton Rouge I have been dreading. We're BCS bound! What ya think?

Brian Bennett: I've got West Virginia No. 1 in the power rankings this week, and I've said all along this team has a chance to be special. That defense can be as good as it wants to be. I'm not ready to pencil the Mountaineers into the BCS just yet, though. It's impossible to compare their performance against an FCS outfit to how other Big East teams played on the road against solid programs. West Virginia still has to prove it can win the big games on its schedule.

Terrance from Louisville writes: The UL/UK game proved a lot to me. As far as coaching a team goes I think Charlie Strong actually won that battle. After giving up 20 points to UK, Strong coached them up at halftime and showed what kind of coach and team we can be. UK was held to 3 points after they made adjustments and he 'coached them up a little.' I think after being able to use more film on upcoming opponents who do NOT have new coaches or schemes, we will be ok. Maybe not 8-4 but maybe not 4-8 again. Thoughts?

Brian Bennett: After Kentucky raced out to a 20-3 lead, I thought it was going to get really ugly. Credit Strong and his staff for making really good adjustments, something that hadn't been seen around Louisville in a while. The Cardinals are going to be well-coached, and they're going to play hard. I still question whether they have enough talent to win many games in the Big East. There just aren't a lot of playmakers on either side of the ball right now, but that will be fixed in recruiting.

Eric from San Diego writes: Is this what we have to look forward to as a Cincy fan? Watching this game, the entire team looked unprepared. The O-Line couldn't block anyone, the receivers couldn't catch the ball, the D couldn't stop the big play, the running game couldn't break a tackle, and the coach couldn't adjust. This was an awful performance against an inferior opponent. I know Fresno is good at home, but this is a team we need to beat. What's the deal? Am I overreacting to the first game?

Brian Bennett: I get your frustration, because that was a difficult game to stomach for Cincinnati fans. The Bearcats just got flat-out physically assaulted. But it's one game, and on the road against a tough opponent on a 100-degree day. Let's give Butch Jones a little more time before we start making any pronouncements.

Erik from Atlanta writes: As an ACC fan I would just like to thank the Big East as a whole for what it did (or didn't do) this weekend. Just wanted to say to the conference as a whole to keep doing what you're doing because I'm sick of hearing about how the ACC is the worst BCS conference (assuming that the Big East will be able to keep its membership of course).

Brian Bennett: (Struggling to come up with a response ...)

Michael from Centerville, Ohio, writes: Brian, you still have about 11 hours to save a little face and re-order your Big East power rankings and put Cincinnati in the top spot. Otherwise you are going to have to write an article tomorrow morning saying how you and everyone else underestimated the Bearcats AGAIN. My prediction, Cincinnati 55 Fresno 17.

Brian Bennett: I think I'll hold off on writing that article, if it's OK with you.

Phil C. from Ann Arbor, Mich., writes: It was naive of you to pick UConn over the University of Michigan. You should've known the greatness that is U of M football will never die. I wish you the best of luck with your future predictions, but you can stick last Saturday's prediction up your ...

Brian Bennett: You stay classy, Ann Arbor!