Big East power rankings, Week 12

1. Cincinnati (10-0, 6-0 Big East): The Bearcats have had to sweat out their last two games at home, but they were also playing teams desperate for a win for bowl eligibility (UConn) and to stay alive in the conference title mix (West Virginia). Cincinnati can use this bye week to heal up some players and take a break from the mental pressure of trying to stay unbeaten

2. Pittsburgh (9-1, 5-0): This is nearly a 1 and 1A situation between the Panthers and Bearcats. And each week, it becomes more and more baffling how Pitt could have lost at NC State.

3. Rutgers (7-2, 2-2): Welcome back to the upper echelon of the power rankings, Scarlet Knights. Of course, I had them at the top before the 47-15 opening thrashing by Cincinnati. Since then, Rutgers' only loss was by a touchdown to Pitt, and it finally got a signature win with a 31-0 blowout of South Florida. The Scarlet Knights are also ranked in the Associated Press poll this week for the first time since Oct. 21, 2007.

4. West Virginia (7-3, 3-2): You get the feeling that this team can beat anybody when it's clicking on all cylinders. Yet, the Mountaineers' best win is over a 4-5 UConn team. They have one of the weakest résumés, so far, in recent West Virginia history.

5. Connecticut (4-5, 1-4): Forget the record. The Huskies have been far more competitive against Cincinnati (lost by two), Pitt (lost by three) and Rutgers (lost by four) than the No. 6 team on this list.

6. South Florida (6-3, 2-3): The Bulls have lost to Cincinnati by 17, Pitt by 27 and Rutgers by 31. Just when you think this program is getting closer to contending for a Big East title, it goes out and proves that it's actually getting farther away.

7. Louisville (4-6, 1-4): The Cardinals won the Big East Basement Bowl over Syracuse thanks to a missed Orange extra point, a touchdown with 1:24 left and an interception in the final minute. The fight for seventh has never been fiercer.

8. Syracuse (3-7, 0-5): Go ahead and get comfortable here, Orange. You could be living in the basement for a while.