Big East stock report

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

The Wall Street Journal has nothing on this stock report. Let's see who's up, who's down and who's leading the big races (bonus category: top assistant coach) as we enter Week 9 of the Big East marathon:

Stock up

1. West Virginia fans: The Mountaineers' fans get a bad rap sometimes, especially from the outside press that wants to label them as couch-burners from the backwoods. They're a passionate bunch, to be sure, and they showed a lot of class and dignity last week with the tributes to Connecticut and Jasper Howard. Today we applaud you, fans.

2. Delone Carter: The Syracuse senior had a career day against Akron, rushing for 170 yards and three touchdowns. That's 33 more yards and three more scores than he had in all of an injury-plagued 2008.

3. Marcus Easley: The UConn senior and former walk-on has become the Huskies' big-play guy. He had an 88-yard touchdown catch that gave Connecticut its final lead in the fourth quarter at West Virginia and is averaging 26.1 yards per catch with three scores this year.

4. Mike Shanahan: No, not the former Broncos coach. The redshirt freshman receiver has become a weapon for Pitt in the last few games and now has seven catches for 88 yards on the season. He's 6-foot-5 with sure hands and gives Bill Stull yet another target.

5. Mark Harrison: The true freshman Rutgers receiver has overcome an early-season groin injury and is taking on a bigger role in the offense. Fellow wideout Tim Brown told The Star-Ledger that the 6-foot-3 Harrison could be the next Kenny Britt.

Stock down

1. George Selvie: I hate to say it, because Selvie is one of the nicest guys in the league and a real talent, but his stock is down after the last two games. Cincinnati's Jeff Linkenbach and Pitt's Jason Pinkston slowed him down to a crawl. Yes, they had help often, but even in one-on-one situations, Selvie was not the force we've seen him be in the past.

2. Steve Kragthorpe's reasoning: The Louisville coach said after his team's 41-10 loss to Cincinnati that he was hoping to see Tony Pike instead of Zach Collaros because Pike was one-dimensional. Um, OK. The Courier-Journal's Eric Crawford blisters Kragthorpe for that comment in this column.

3. Jerome Murphy: Two very tough games in a row for the talented South Florida senior cornerback. He had a mistake-filled night against Cincinnati and was burned repeatedly in the Pitt game. Jim Leavitt hinted at personnel changes this week, and most people looked immediately to Murphy, who will be under fire against West Virginia's passing game.

4. The BCS standings: What kind of system drops Cincinnati from No. 5 to No. 8 after it beats a conference rival by 31 points without its star quarterback?

5. Anyone but Mohamed Sanu or Tom Savage at quarterback for Rutgers: Sanu has made the Wildcat package work much better than Jabu Lovelace or Kordell Young. The Scarlet Knights even had punter Teddy Dellaganna attempt a pass. I know they're searching of offense, but sometimes too much trickery is not a treat.

Player of the year race: Offense

1. Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati: Has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns, with three interceptions. Missed last week's game against Louisville with an injured left forearm.

2. Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia: Has rushed for 912 yards on 137 attempts, with 10 touchdowns. Ranks third in the FBS in rushing yards per game.

3. Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: Has run for 1,029 on 185 attempts, with 11 touchdowns. Ranks fourth n the FBS in rushing yards per game

4. Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati: Has 47 catches for 674 yards and eight touchdowns.

5. Bill Stull, QB, Pittsburgh: Has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 1,654 yards and 16 touchdowns, with four interceptions.

Player of the year race: Defense

1. Mick Williams, DT, Pittsburgh: This category changes wildly from week to week, as no one seems to want to take control. I'm going this week with Williams, who leads the league with 12.5 tackles for loss and is second in forced fumbles with three.

2. Lindsey Witten, DE, UConn: He's second in the nation in sacks, with 10.5.

3. Derrell Smith, LB, Syracuse: He leads the nation in forced fumbles and is tied for second in the Big East with 6.5 sacks.

4. Aaron Webster, S, Cincinnati: Has three interceptions and is the leader of the defense for the Big East's top-ranked team and stingiest 'D'.

5. Lawrence Wilson, LB, UConn: Leads the Big East in tackles.

Assistant coach of the year

1. Bob Diaco, Cincinnati: All the first-year defensive coordinator has done is switch to a 3-4 scheme, replace 10 senior starters and make the Bearcats the top scoring defense in the league with 13.7 points allowed per game.

2. Frank Cignetti, Pittsburgh: Cignetti deserves a lot of credit for the improvement by Stull and for utilizing all the weapons at his disposal as Pitt's offensive coordinator. The Panthers are averaging 34.2 points per game

3. Jeff Mullen, West Virginia: Mullen came under fire in his first year as offensive coordinator in Morgantown while trying to implement more of a passing game. Things are clicking now, as West Virginia is averaging 31.3 points and has the second-best passing offense in the league.