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    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Season to date average statistical breakdown per game... Is this where we thought we would be?

    In the schools first 11 games yielding 8 wins:
    • WVU has scored an average of 35.4 points per game, while giving up an alarming average of 26.2 points per game.  West Virginia is 20th nationally in scoring offense and 16th in total offense while being 59th in scoring defense and 25th in total defense.  I must admit I was expecting to be substantially better in all of these areas. 
    • WVU turns the ball over on average 1.6 times per game, while forcing turnovers at a rate of 1.55 times per game.  Making this a statistical dead heat.  Basically WVU is even in turnover margin with its opponents. West Virginia ranks 71st in turnover margin nationally. 
    • WVU has averaged 31.27 rush attempts for 116.91 yards on the per game, while giving up an average of 138 yards per game on the ground.  Coach Holgorsen has indicated that the rush numbers are going to be indicative of what the defenses give us.  As long as the team can rush the ball they have seemed to be successful. 
    • Through the air WVU has averaged 41.82 attempts at an average rate of 27 completions for an average of 351.36 yards only giving up an average of 0.56 interceptions per game.  The defense gives up on average 197.2 yards per game through the air.  This statistic is in line with what was expected at the beginning of the season.  WVU's version of the Dana Holgorsen "air-raid" have yielded significant numbers.  Geno Smith is 5th in the nation in passing yards.  He is however only 20th in the nation in touchdowns and 22nd in the nation in third down conversions.  Both Stedman Bailey (who ranks 13 nationally in receiving yards) and Tavon Austin (who ranks 1st in all purpose yards and 26th in receiving yards) are over 1000 yards in receiving this season with two games to play.  This has never been done before.  It really is a mixed bag for grading out this part of the offense.  The defense has been impressive nationally on third down conversions allowed WVU graded out at 23rd. (It seems like teams have greater success than that but alas we are decent at getting off the field on third down.) 
    • WVU averages 140.4 return yards per game while giving up an average of 164.7 return yards per game. Our return team grades out at 41st nationally. Our punt return team grades out at an impressive 18th really being the best part of our special teams.  Our kickoff coverage team as expected is awful, nationally we rank 108th. We aren't much better on punt coverage team were we grade out at 100th nationally. 
    At the beginning of the season Da Geek predicted big numbers from Geno Stedman and Tavon.  Well those guys delivered.  I was hopeful for a more solid defensive performance and thought that our Offensive line and Special teams had to improve well alas that didn't happen. 

    So what does all of this mean in terms of seasonal success?  Well I think it means that the Holgorsen experiment is still in its infancy.  We are a work in progress and there is plenty of work to do.  The measure of this season's success may be determined by 2 games both played this week.  If WVU can go do what it struggles to do in Tampa and win, and if Cincinnati can get a home win over Connecticut then this season is a success if not it simply wasn't. This is more a statement of how bad the Big East is rather than how good WVU is.   The standard set by Oliver Luck and Dan Holgorsen was conference championships and BCS Bowl births.  If we aren't on track to do that then we aren't on track. The only statistics that really matter are W's.  We need enough of those to get our invite to the BCS.  This year 9 wins may or may not be enough.  (Ironically, for Louisville,  7 wins may be enough in this lousy conference.) 

    Would love to read your thoughts...

    Da Geek 

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Da Geeks Power Rankings for 11/28/2011 Bowl Predictions...

    1.  West Virginia  Louisville and Cincinnati share the top spot in this weeks poll. These 3 teams are the only ones that have any shot at the BCS and thus are the only relevant teams.  Everyone else has fallen into complete obscurity.  To break this down simply it is like this Louisville is already at worst a co-champion of the Big East and shall be the BCS representative with a Cincinnati loss.  They are a pedestrian 7 and 5, but of those 7 wins including one over the Eers in Morgantown, they have won 5 conference games.  The best that Cincinnati and West Virginia can hope to do is to win 5 conference games for a share of the Big East Crown.  Cincinnati wins the nod to play in the BCS game with a win over UConn (bringing their record to 9 and 3) and a WVU loss.  They have won the head to head match with Louisville, thus they would win the first tie breaker.   WVU would get the BCS nod if the Eers can notch a victory over the always challenging Bulls in Tampa (which would bring their record to 9 and 3), and a Cincinnati win over UConn.  Were this to happen the 3 co-champs would then be placed into a mini-conference.  Since all of the teams won one and lost one against the others (Louisville beat WVU lost to Cincinnati; Cincinnati beat Louisville and lost to WVU; and WVU beat Cincinnati but lost to Louisville.)  This means that the representative would be the team ranked higher in the BCS poll.  As it currently stands WVU is 23rd in the BCS poll being the only team ranked in the top 25 (Cincinnati is 30th and Louisville is 41st.)  Though stranger things have happened I simply don't see Cincinnati jumping WVU in this poll were both teams to win this weekend and Louisville has no team to beat to move them up in the poll this weekend, thus WVU shall get the nod in the 3rd tie breaker and therefore shall be the representative in the BCS bowl game this year in the event that WVU and Cincinnati take care of business.  Bowl predictions for these teams:  WVU in the Orange Bowl; Louisville in the Belk Bowl; Cincinnati in the Papa Johns Bowl.  Notre Dame is Bowl eligible and I think that this is all that matters to the Champs Sports Bowl, thus the second pick of a Big East team would fall to the Belk and Louisville is a proven traveler to bowl games for this reason I think they would get the edge over Cincinnati.

    4.  Rutgers at 8 and 4 takes this spot even with that abysmal loss to Connecticut.  They fall here ahead of Pitt for 2 reasons first they beat them head to head and secondly and far more importantly they have a better conference and overall record.  While, Pitt can still end up tied with Rutgers in the Conference standings this week they trail the Knights.  The New Era Pin Stripe Bowl has been salivating over inviting Rutgers basically since the season began and thus will give Rutgers the invite as soon as it is their turn to make a selection.  

    5. Pitt holds down the number 5 spot.  They fought hard but refused to accept the many gifts that WVU passed their way in terms of turnovers.  Pitt won the turnover battle 3-1 and still couldn't find it in themselves to beat the Eers.  As far as Brawl's go this one was certainly a classic.  Particularly because the Panthers were under the misguided impression that they were going to win this game right down to the last sack/fumble.  But alas, it was not meant to be so the Panthers had to hightail it 77 miles back home losers again.   They like the rest of the teams in this Power Rankings are not currently Bowl eligible. They are currently 5-6.  They face the completely irrelevant Orange to find out who is going to get the invite to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.  Yup everybody is going to be glued to the sets to see the outcome of this game.  My prediction is that the Panthers defeat the hapless Orange thus they shall be heading to Tampa over the holidays. 

    6.  Connecticut is next on the list as they have at least won a game recently.  They gave Rutgers a good-old- fashioned-butt-kicking this past weekend.  Who would have seen a 40 point explosion (a) happening for Connecticut and (b) being given up by Rutgers, suffice to say, it happened.  With that win they have earned the right to go to Cincinnati and likely get pasted and eliminated from Bowl Contention.  I realize that they are playing for their Bowl lives but the Bearcats are playing maybe for a shot at the BCS.  Even without this motivation the "Flying Munchies" with Isaiah Pead are simply a better team and should get this win.  Therefore, The Huskies will end this season Bowl-less. 

    7.  South Florida currently at 5 and 6 have a lot to play for as they too can become bowl eligible with a win.  However, they usually don't need any more motivation to progress than to know that WVU is going to be on the other side of the ball.    They have a nack for rising to the occasion against the Eers particularly in Tampa.  It appears that they shall have the services of their starting quarterback for Thursday nights game so I expect a battle.  I predict however that the Bulls will come up short as the Eers simply have too much to play for on Thursday.  This game in the words of Coach Holgorsen, is "season defining." As a result of this game, the bowl hopes of the Bulls come to an end.  They will end the season 5 and 7 and more importantly 1 and 7 in Big East play.

    8.  Syracuse, wow does this team really even deserve a mention in the top 8 of an 8 team league?  They had one moment in the season where they cashed it all in against WVU and then thud came the season.  The utter futility of this seasons effort makes the ACC proud.  I mean let us look at this for a second the ACC invites one of the worst teams in the Big East and the team that just did marginally better in Pitt.  Enjoy!  With Syracuse's loss to Pitt this weekend they shall join South Florida with a 5 and 7 record with just one win in conference play.  So no bowl for you.  Hmm.  Sure looks like that performance against WVU earlier this season really mattered in the grand scheme of things.  I am sure that there fan base takes solace in the fact that they will have beaten one of the eventual conference champions but any fan that is satisfied with this seasons' performance should really reexamine their sports loyalties.  It is a FINE time to be an Orangefan.   

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    PITT Weak

    Vegas has this game WVU -6.5 with an over/under of 57.

    Translation WVU 31.75 Pitt 25.25 or roughly 32-25

    I can see that. Both teams should be able to score. Both have been inconsistent.

    I would lean toward the over (which I never bet the over) and WVU by 6

    Louisville +3 at USF O/U is 43 => 23-20

    Cant understand why Louisville isn't getting the respect. BJ Daniels is likely out. Maybe that's WHY. I like Louisville here but hope USF pulls it out.

    Rutgers -3 over UConn. No O/U because no one cares.
    Rutgers' Jamison running well. Rutgers by 10

    Cinci -3 over Syracuse No O/U becuase no one cares.
    Should be interesting with no Collaros vs no heart. Apparently season goals were met by Syracuse and the team packed it in after the WVU game. (At least according to their fans)

    I like Cinci and that defense by 3

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Is Huggins a Magician?

    Hoops season is finally upon us. Just 3 games in and we've already seen evidence of the roller coaster ride that is to come. I've only been fortunate enough to catch the Kent State loss, but hope to watch many games in the weeks to come. Nobody is quite sure of what to expect from all the new faces, (including Huggins) and there is quite a wide margin of speculation about where WVU will finish among the fans I have spoken with. My personal opinion is that there isn't much to be optimistic about.... this year.

    Historically, at WVU, Huggins' teams have not had impact players in their first season. Devin Ebanks is the only exception. Even highly touted JuCo transfer Casey Mitchell took a year before becoming a significant contributor. That combined with the fact that we are an extremely offensively challenged team leads me to expect a difficult season. However, in watching the Kent State game, there were flashes of great talent among new players like Aaron Brown and Jabarie Hinds. I also understand that Kevin Noreen had some great minutes against Alcorn State. Among the returners, Kevin Jones should be more consistent this year and earn BE honors again at the end of the year. I expect Kilicli to be much more aggressive and more comfortable playing an important role. Truck should come into his own as a top performer as his responsibilities as point guard diminish throughout the season. Nonetheless, the inexperience still shows heavily and it will be a hurdle all year long.

    Huggins has said the success of the team this year will depend on how quickly the new players pick up the system. I would certainly agree and add that it also depends on how well the new guys are at taking a physical beating. Players under Huggins transform from boys to men after a year of conditioning and weights. Right now, the freshman aren't massive or strong enough to endure the constant pounding of a BE schedule and the only thing that will change that is time.

    My prediction for the team is 17-14 (8-10) and a trip to the NIT. That may be considered a disappointing season, and it's quite possible that some of the talent outshines the inexperience and we're able to pick up a few more wins and make a run at the NCAA tourney. If it happens, I would consider Huggins quite the magician.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Big East big picture... What does this weekend bode for everyone involved? Da Geek's predictions...

    This weekend is an off weekend for the most important team in this league, WVU.  So, I thought I would address what the rest of the league is doing this weekend and what impact each of those games have on the big picture.  As we all know, at least those who actually pay attention, the league has never been won by a team with 3 losses as Syracuse and South Florida each have lost 4 conference games, they are only playing for bowl eligibility and I suppose spoiler but otherwise are irrelevant in the discussion.

    The rest of the league is actually mathematically alive for the crown.  The only team that currently lays claim to the outright title possibility is Cincinnati.  If the Bear Cats can overcome the blow of losing Zack and Munchie proves to be a winner the rest of the way out they will be playing in the BCS.   The rest of the league 2 loss teams are going to be anxiously watching the action in New Jersey.  Rutgers, WVU, Louisville, Pitt and even Connecticut all have a shot at winning the league if the Scarlet Knights do their part and hand Cincinnati a loss this weekend.

    Were Cincinnati to lose to Rutgers this weekend, this is the breakdown of the conference picture:  Rutgers would own tie breakers over Pitt and Cincinnati; WVU owns tie breakers against Rutgers, UConn, and Cincinnati.  Louisville owns the tie breaker with Rutgers and WVU.  Cincinnati owns tiebreakers over Pitt, Louisville.

    • WVU is BCS bowling if they were to win out either Louisville loses one more game or Cincinnati, UConn, or both to win out as well.
    • Rutgers is BCS bowling if they win out,  WVU and Louisville loses or if Cincinnati and Pitt also win out.
    • Louisville is BCS bowling if they win out and Cincinnati loses an additional game, or if WVU, Rutgers win out as well.    
    • Cincinnati would be BCS Bowling if the win out and WVU and Rutgers fall, or if Pitt and Louisville win out as well.  
    • Pitt would be BCS Bowling if they win out and Cincinnati and Rutgers lose an additional game.
    • UConn would need to win out and everybody else needs to lose one more.  (Stranger things have happened but this seems to be the least likely eventuality.)
    The two games this weekend of import are as follows:

    • Rutgers vs. Cincinnati.  While Cincinnati has been to Rutgers the Achilles heal that South Florida has proven to be with WVU, Da Geek goes on record as saying that the Rutgers defense  proves too much for Munchie.  Rutgers in a well fought defensive struggle prevails 17 to 13.  
    • Connecticut vs. Louisville is an important game for both teams as well as Rutgers and West Virginia.    The game is being played at the Rent but Louisville is fantastic defensively.  Though WVU's title picture would be clearer with a Connecticut win I simply don't see this happening.  Louisville 23 UConn 17.   

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Da Geek's Big East Power Rankings and Bowl Projections 11/14/2011:

    1.  West Virginia  and Cincinnati share the top spot in this weeks poll.  As it appears that no one really wants to win this title.  Cincinnati still controls its destiny but they no longer have their starting quarterback.  Zach is down for the immediate future so the door is now ajar to the conference title.  WVU played uninspired football against Louisville last week but elected to show up somewhat at Paul Brown stadium.  As a result they have moved back into contention for the conference crown with 6 other Big East teams.  As for Bowl predictions:  Cincinnati has inside track to BCS while WVU is looking more and more Charlotte Bound for Belk Bowl.  Their is an outside shot that WVU could get a repeat visit to Orlando but that would require Notre Dame dropping a couple more games.  I don't see any Big East team playing in the Champs because they really want Notre Dame.  The only real caveat to this is that the Big East is falling a part a the seems and the Champs may not want to get stuck with a Big East team next year.

    3.  Pitt has moved its way back into serious conference contention.  The reason that they reside here and not with WVU and Cincy in the top spot is that they lost to Cincinnati and have to travel to Morgantown without their star runner.  While the WVU defense has proven to be porous, so does Pitt's defense against spread offenses.  They have however, made themselves a contender with some help.  They need Cincinnati to lose 2 more and win out for the crown.  Pitt is likely making a trip to Birmingham Alabama.

    4.  Louisville is still very much a contender but need both Pitt and Cincy to fall twice more.  In a four way tie they lose all the tie-breakers with their loss to Cincinnati and Pitt.  They do hold a tiebreaker over WVU but they can't win in either the 3 way or 2 way tie scenario.  They still have work to do but a bowl birth in Tampa Florida is now becoming close to a reality.

    5.  Rutgers holds down the number 5 spot though they are also in mathematical contention for the crown.  Though they are also at a disadvantage due to tie-breaker woes.  As I have maintained for weeks they have all but locked up their bowl bid to the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City.

    6.  Connecticut  and South Florida have moved into a tie for this spot.  Both teams got much needed victories this weekend.  Neither have a real good shot at a bowl game this post season but neither are mathematically out of that scenario either.  This fight to be at the bottom of the conference is fierce.  Only time will tell.

    8. And Syracuse has now locked up the bottom feeder status for the week.  After giving WVU an embarrassing loss they are now falling out of conference contention with every week that passes.  It appears that wins over Wake Forest and WVU will be their key wins for the season.  Losing to Connecticut is considered a cardinal sin.  Particularly when you lose to your fired ex-coach at home.  Syracuse much like those other teams so desperate to be at the bottom of the conference still have a legit shot at a bowl birth but now that picture has become quite out of focus.

    Blog Poll for November 14th

    1.    LSU
    2.    Oklahoma State
    3.    Alabama
    4.    Oregon

    5.    Clemson
    6.    Oklahoma/ Va. Tech
    8.    Georgia/ Houston
    10.  Boise State
    11.  Arkansas
    12.  South Carolina
    13.  MSU
    14.  Nebraska
    15.  Kansas State
    16.  Penn State
    17.  SMU/Wisconsin
    19.  USC/TCU 
    21.  Michigan
    22.  WVU
    23.  Stanford
    24.  Cincinnati 
    25.  Georgia Tech

    Others receiving votes:  Notre Dame, FSU, Arkansas State, Rutgers 

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Louisville Cardinals A breakdown of this weeks opponent and prediction.

    So what team from Louisville shows up this weekend?  Will it be the one defeated by both Marshall and FIU or will it be the one that beat Rutgers and soundly defeated Syracuse?   Time will tell but one thing that has been consistent with Louisville is their scoring defense.   For the season they are on average giving up only 16.2 points per game.  Of course they are only scoring on average 17.6 points per game.  Louisville's best offensive performance came last week against the Orange when they scored 27 points.  Their worst defensive game came against Cincinnati where they gave up 25 points.  Only 4 times this season has Louisville scored more than 16 points.  Only 2 times this season has Louisville given up more than 17 points in a game.  By contrast, WVU is scoring, on average, 38.6 points per game, while giving up on average 26.1 points per game.  WVU's worst scoring outing came against LSU scoring only 21 points.  WVU scored over 38.6 points 5 times out of 8.  The Defense gave up more than 26.1 points half of the time.  So which WVU defense is going to show up?  Which Louisville offense is going to show up?  Can WVU's offense put up more points on Louisville than any other team?  If that is the case can Louisville's offense keep pace?  All of these questions are going to be answered starting at 12:00 at MPC.  

    So who are the play-makers for the Cardinals?   Charlie Strong is the MVP of this team he is playing youth all over the field on both sides of the ball while he does have some senior leadership on defense he is building a team from bottom up.  This season he is simply trying to find the chemistry.  He is making some progress but this team has some ways to go.  Louisville will win again in the near future but right now they are in a rebuilding mode.  But in true Charlie Strong fashion the Cardinals have begun that process of building this team around the concept of solid fundamentally sound and attacking defense.  Look for him to have them ready to play on Saturday.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Strong is starting a Freshman at the quarterback position.  The 6'3" 205 pound,Teddy Bridgewater has completed 63.3% of his passes this year for 1,029 yards on the season.   He has thrown for seven touchdowns run for one and has thrown 6 interceptions.    Much like West Virginia, Louisville Rushes the ball by committee.  The three backs that touch the ball the most are Jeremy Wright, who has rushes for an average of 37.9 yards per game  (It should be noted that he is a kickoff returner too and leads the team in all purpose yards for an average of 80.2 yards per game.); Vic Anderson, who averages 40.3 yards per game and has posted 2 scores; and D. Brown who has also rushed for 40.3 yards per game and has tallied one touchdown on the ground.  As Louisville spreads the wealth at the receiver position it is hard to find too many that have really distinguished themselves.   But the leaders for the team are M. Harris who averages 44.5 yards per game in receptions with 2 scores and  Devante Parker who has tallied 4 touchdowns on the year with an average of 30.2 yards per game.  As they have only passed for 12 touchdowns on the season their hasn't been any headline grabbers.  

    The special teams standouts are again Jeremy Wright who averages 21.1 yards per return, Eli Rogers who averages 9 yards per punt return.  The punting duties have been split this year between Josh Blesser who has averaged 37.3 yards per punt, and Chris Philpot who has averaged 38.1 yards per punt.  They both fall in the average range among Big East punters.  The kicking duties fall to Chris Philpot who grants the opposing teams the 24 yard line on average.   The field goal duties are also Chris Philpot's responsibility.  He has made 8 of 12 tries with a long of 52.  He has plenty of leg but has been inconsistent.

    Dexter Heyman
    The strongest unit on the field for the Cardinals falls on the defensive side of the ball.  They as I indicated above are stingy when it comes to giving up points.  Charlie Strong has always been a defensive minded Coach and was one of the best defensive coordinators in the Country at his previous stops.  This years team is tough minded and as I said yield few points.  The play-makers on this unit are: Senior Linebacker, Dexter Heyman who has 35 solo tackles, 10 of which were tackles for loss, 3 of which were sacks, and 20 assisted tackles.  He has forced 1 fumble and picked the football off twice; Senior Safety Mike Evans who has tallied two interceptions and has made 22 solo tackles, it should be further noted that last year he sacked Geno twice at Papa Johns; and the talented 254 lb., Sophomore Line backer Preston Brown, who has tallied 25 solo tackles and 30 assisted tackles this season 5 of which were for a loss and 1 1/2 were sacks.   The most impressive thing about this defense is that they have played extremely well as a unit.  As I pointed out above they simply don't give up too many points.  While not the turnover juggernaut that Rutgers was touted to be, this unit is impressive.

    This game comes down to which team imposes its will.  While, I think Louisville is extremely well coached, and very solid on defense,  WVU has moved the ball on the likes of LSU, I am not going to believe that they are going to be stymied by the likes of this Louisville team.  For that reason I just don't think a win for Louisville is in the Cards.

    WVU 39 Louisville 17 

    Go EERS!
    Da Geek   

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Big XII Bowls vs. Big East Bowls

    While I am simply excited to be playing in the Big XII against the likes of Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State on an annual basis, I am even further excited by the opportunity to play in the Bowl games awarded to this conference.    Following is a simple and brief comparison and contrast of the opportunities WVU currently has, and what WVU can look to in the future. 

    The current 2011-2012 Bowl games  for the Big XII are as follows:
    1. BCS - Tostitos Fiesta January +
    2. AT&T Cotton (SEC) January 1
    3. Valero Alamo (Pac-10)
    4. Insight (Big Ten)
    5. Bridgepoint Holiday (Pac-10)
    6. Texas (Big Ten)
    7. New Era Pinstripe (Big East)
    The current 2011-2012 Bowl tie ins for the Big East are as follows:
    1. BCS-(Big East typically the last pick for available game- this year that would be the Orange Bowl)
    2. Champs Sports Bowl (ACC) (May choose ND over Big East team)
    3. Belk Bowl (ACC)
    4. New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Big XII)
    5. BVA Compass Bowl (SEC)/AutoZone Liberty Bowl(CUSA Champ)
    6. Beef O'Brady's Bowl (CUSA)
    On its face one can see, that with the exception of the BCS Bowl game, there really is no comparison.  Truthfully that can be assailed, as well, as the Big XII has had numerous multiple-team representatives in the BCS in a given year.  That has never happened for the Big East conference even in 2006, when the conference had 3 top 12 teams.

    As for the non-BCS selections you need only look at the common bowl game between the two, The Big XII sends their 7th pick to the play the 4th pick from the Big East to the Pin Stripe Bowl.  I would also add that the Big XII members don't need to share their bowl games with Notre Dame.  This year it appears that the Champs Sports Bowl bid will go to the Irish if they merely are bowl eligible.  Thus the Big East really only has 5 games to play in.  Additionally, the Big East will face an ACC opponent in all likelihood, in 2 games, CUSA in 2 games or maybe the SEC,  and of course the Big XII's seventh best.  The Big XII has some great destinations as well.  San Antonio, San Diago, Dallas, Phoenix, etc.  While I liked going to games in Florida, the only warm weather game on the slate at that time of the year is the BCS game, and the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.  Orlando is a coin flip with regard to weather that time of the year.  By contrast the only game that is in a cold weather town is the Pin Stripe Bowl.  I have not even gotten into the disparity in payouts for those Bowl Games.   While in the Big East a team can actually lose money on its BCS appearance (see UConn last season), WVU stands to make money at just about every Bowl game they may be selected for out of the Big XII. 

    My point, Eer Nation, is that we have reason to be happy about this specific change in our status going forward.  While, I maintain that the only Bowl game a team should aspire to be in is the National Championship, I am encouraged that the consolation prizes are much nicer in our new conference home.     

    Da Geek   

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Da Geek's Big East Power Rankings and Bowl Projections 11/01/2011:

    1. Cincinnati remains the only unbeaten team in Big East play.  Next up for the Bearcats is at Pitt.  This game may pose some problems for the Bearcats.  The Panthers while gimping into the game without their premier player have somehow figured out how to throw the ball.  I am not a proponent of Tino, but he did have a decent day on Wednesday.  Okay Bearcat faithful I concede that was against UConn but the Panthers know what is at stake and they like the Mountaineers are among the teams with Cincinnati who control their destiny simply by winning.  For this reason Cincinnati better come ready to play.  For at least one more week, the Bearcats would be looking to play in a BCS game this postseason.   
    2. WVU after an abysmal 6 quarters of play finally got on track on defense and held Rutgers scoreless in the second half.  They have, with the help of a choking Syracuse team, put themselves in a position to control their destiny in the league.  They are facing a Louisville team in Morgantown this weekend, whose defense, is best described as stingy.  They simply haven’t given up very many points this season to anyone.  Of course they haven’t scored that many either.  However, Louisville is on a two game winning streak that at least makes one start to forget their losses to FIU and Marshall.  WVU with a win at home sets up a huge clash with Cincinnati.  In the meantime the Eers get to advance one spot in the power rankings.  As for where they are projected in the post season, they are now officially bowl eligible for the 10th straight year.  They are likely going to end up in the Belk Bowl as Notre Dame has all but locked up the Champs Sports Bowl Bid.  Bad news for the rest of the Big East teams.  The reality is that the Eers need win one other game to lock up the third place bowl tie in as their always going to be the pick of any big east tie in that can take them when Notre Dame isn’t mucking up the works.   
    3. Pitt makes a splash in the Big East power rankings for basically showing up.  With the complete choke of the Orange this week Pitt moves into the 3 spot simply because they are one of 3 teams in the Big East that still control their own fate by simply winning.  That will be no easy task as they lost their best player to a season ending injury, but in this league stranger things have happened.  A win over the Bearcats turns this season into a very interesting one in deed.  They do get them at home but still have to face the Mountaineers the day after Thanksgiving in Morgantown.  For this reason they are staying in the third position as they are least likely to pull this off.  In terms of post season play Pitt is looking more and more likely as a candidate for the Beef O-Brady’s Bowl.  They don’t travel particularly well but South Florida is going to have some work to do to get bowl eligible and nobody else is looking that appealing in terms of traveling except maybe Louisville and they have some work to do as well.
    4. Louisville has decided that it likes the taste of winning.  For a second straight week the Cardinals’ have found a way to win.  They simply kicked the crap out of Syracuse.  As I said in WVU’s segment, this team knows how to play defense.  Charlie Strong has instilled a toughness into them that has in the long view of the season panned out well.  They are still several players away from being a good team but with a little help from Pitt they would be able to control their own destiny.  How can it be that a team can lose to FIU and Marshall and still be in it for a BCS bowl slot?  Well realistically they aren’t but mathematically they still have a fighting chance.  For that reason they find themselves moving mightily up the power rankings.  Next up for them are the Eers, this will prove a tough matchup indeed.  Can this team score enough points to win?  I don’t see that happening.  But in this snapshot of the year they have earned the right to this spot in the rankings.   I said last week that they needed to get to the 7 win mark to go bowling.  I have since taken a different position, six wins will suffice.  I now see them as being the team invited to the BVB Compass Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.  Louisville’s fans typically travel and that gives them the edge over an available Syracuse team. 
    5. Rutgers looked like it was about to finally get the Mountaineer Monkey off its back.  But alas the 17 years of futility continued.  Fortunately for the Knights they likely won’t have to face the Eers for several years to come if ever.  What Coach Schiano has to do for the rest of the season is not let the last two games define his team.  They still have wins over both Pitt and Syracuse to their credit.  The season is far from over but realistically they would need a lot of help to factor into the conference title.  Though 2 loss teams can win the conference they would need several pieces to fall into place for them to even get a share of the title.  That would include beating another nemesis of theirs the Cincinnati Bearcats.  Really all Rutgers needs to do is become bowl eligible and they are going to be taken by the Pin Stripe Bowl.   Syracuse just played in that game and likely wouldn’t get the nod over a Rutgers team that need only take a short train ride to the game.  
    6. For the third straight week, the biggest mover in the Power Rankings is Syracuse.  As my prophecy of them not running the table came true in quick and decisive fashion they fall to 6th in the power rankings.  They were simply man-handled by the Cardinals this past weekend.  This team looked nothing like the team that played in the Dome only a week ago.  So what does this mean for them?   It means they went from being in the driver’s seat to having to wait for several scenarios to play out for them to contend for the crown.  As such they are relegated to replacement team status in the bowl picture.  They will need another conference to fall short of meeting its tie in eligibility.   I think that this will happen but haven’t a clue where the Orange shall end up.  Bowling but waiting to see where.
    7. The only reason U Conn remains at this position is due to the fact that they beat the team ranked below them.  What a week effort by the Huskies this past week.  I tell you that game was hard to watch.  Truth be told any game except the brawl is hard to watch when Pitt is the team playing but this game was particularly frustrating.  UConn’s experiment with this quarterback is ceiling its fate I am afraid.   I understand that Coach P. is trying to plan for the future but this is ridiculous.   I frankly don’t see the Huskies winning anther game this year.  As for bowls they are going to be watching them from the comfort of their rooms in the Nutmeg State.  
    8. Well the upside for the bottom feeding Bulls is that they didn’t play a Big East game this past weekend.  As no team has ever won the Big East Championship with three conference losses they are likely relegated to simply playing out this season for a sub-tier bowl.  I think that some conference wins are coming for this team but they now have lost at least the motivation to play for a BCS bowl.  Skip will need to get this team healed up and ready to go to simply make this season bearable for the Tampa faithful.  Look rat the bright side  you live in Tampa.  I am afraid that they like Syracuse will have to hope for some at large bowl slots to open up.  The most likely Big East tie-in that would take them is the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, but they have lots of work to do and Pitt is looking like the more likely candidate at this time.

    Blog Poll for first week in November:

    1. LSU
    2. Alabama
    3. Oklahoma State
    4. Stanford
    5. Boise State
    6. Oklahoma
    7. Clemson
    8. Nebraska
    9. Oregon
    10. Virginia Tech
    11. Houston
    12. Arkansas
    13. South Carolina
    14. Michigan
    15. Penn State
    16. Michigan State
    17. West Virginia/Cincinnati
    18. Georgia Tech
    19. Kansas State
    20. USC
    21. Georgia
    22. North Carolina
    23. Wisconsin
    24. Arizona State
    25. Illinois
    Dropping out of poll: Texas A&M, Arizona State, Texas Tech, SMU, Syracuse

    Others receiving votes (best to worst): Auburn,Ohio State, Southern Mississippi,Washington, Toledo, Missouri/ND

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