The third weekend of college football is drawing near and this is about the time when teams (and conferences) in the FBS start to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Gone—mostly, anyways—are the stat-padding games against the historically less-talented FCS teams, and arriving in their stead are games against tough conference and inter-conference opponents—from the FBS— that serve as a more true litmus test of where a program and a conference is headed. The BIG EAST’s 8-0 record in Week 1 didn’t tell a true story about the conference’s standing in relation to their automatic qualifier (AQ) brethren. Week 2’s 4-4 performance by the BIG EAST may be a more accurate depiction of the strength of the conference, but we’ll know more about where they stand after Week 3’s slate of games.
BIG EAST Buzz
All the buzz in the BIG EAST recently has been about the expansion of other conferences and how that may eventually lead to the contraction of the BIG EAST or the BIG EAST losing its AQ status. On the field, the talk so far has been of Pittsburgh RB Ray Graham, the nation’s leading rusher, who has rushed for 6 TDs in two games. For good reason too—because for all the talk about Todd Graham’s “High Octane” offense, Ray Graham has been the only combustible element in the Panther offense. The other parts of Pitt’s offense have been plain busts.
BIG EAST Breakout Barometer
Tino Sunseri, QB, Pittsburgh- If Pittsburgh has any shot of winning the BIG EAST this season, they have to have much more stability on offense. Right now, Sunseri has more turnovers (3) than touchdowns (1) this season. And with all the attention Ray Graham’s production has received, teams will begin stacking the box against the Panthers and daring Sunseri to beat them. He’ll get his shot to do so this weekend in a nationally televised game against an Iowa team that is still seething after a tough OT loss against Iowa State last weekend. The Hawkeyes will gave Sunseri ample opportunities to put up huge numbers, because the last thing Kirk Ferentz wants is to allow Ray Graham to beat them. The question is whether Pitt’s offensive line will protect Sunseri long enough for him to take advantage of all the attention Graham will be receiving.
BIG EAST Battle of the Week
Syracuse at Southern California (8:00 PM, FX)- Syracuse is 2-0 and coming off a bowl win last season. Coach Marrone is trying to revitalize an Orange program that, though rich in football history, has not been BCS relevant since before Donovan McNabb was hawking Chunky soup. A win at the Coliseum against the USC Trojans—albeit a Trojan team that isn’t bowl eligible—will be a step in the right direction to returning Syracuse football to national prominence.
BIG EAST Bonus Buzz
(Now former) Rutgers junior running back De’Antwan Williams, currently their leading rusher, has decided to leave the program due to disgust with the new Rutgers depth chart.
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