It almost happened Saturday, but the Big East Conference dodged a bullet when senior quarterback Zach Collaros' second touchdown run of the game, which came with 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, helped the University of Cincinnati squeak out a 37-34 victory at University of South Florida. The Bearcats (6-1, 2-0 Big East) last-second win, its fifth consecutive, helped the league, just two-full weeks into its schedule, avoid a seven-team tie atop of its standings.
Ladies and gentlemen, Big East football in 2011-12!
Big East Conference Standings
If you are just starting to following Big East football because of all the recent expansion or conference realignment talks, this maybe a shock to you. However, if you've been around for awhile and witnessed last year's 'mediocre' chaos that came at the end of the season this isn't shocking at all.
Well, maybe a little.
It is a little surprising that West Virginia University (No. 25 in the latest Bowl Championship Series rankings), the media's preseason favorite, has already hurt (but not eliminated) its chance at a Big East title and its automatic qualifying spot -- before the season, most thought the slip up would come in Week 13 or 14 when the Mountaineers play the University of Pittsburgh and USF, respectively.
But, no. WVU, which entered the game with the fourth-best passing offense in the nation, laid an egg against a program that had the 112th-passing defense in the country (there is 120 programs at the Football Bowl Subdivision level) and, two weeks ago, needed to kick a last-second field goal to edge Tulane University (2-6), which just lost to the University of Memphis (2-6) that just ended a 16-game, conference-losing streak.
Meanwhile, Rutgers University, which entered the weekend atop of the Big East standings at 2-0, lost to the University of Louisville, a program that currently ranks 114th in points per game and started a true freshman quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, who completed just 55.5-percent of his passes for 122 yards and a touchdown. (In all fairness, the Scarlet Knights also started a true freshman, Gary Nova, at quarterback who threw three interceptions. However, Nova had helped RU win its last three games.)
So far this season, the Big East schedule has featured nine conference contests. Out of those nine games, here are six of the results: Pitt crushed, then No. 16-ranked, South Florida, 44-17 (Sept. 29); Rutgers edged Syracuse, 19-16, in overtime (Oct. 1); Rutgers throttled Pitt, 34-10 (Oct. 8); UConn "upset" USF, 16-10 (Oct. 15); Louisville downed Rutgers, Friday night, while SU routed WVU.
Basically, each one of those outcomes were not predicted by any of the masses. Yes, each program's fan base probably thought they were going to win those games, but it no way were they going to bet their lives on it.
So, here we are as Big East followers. Two weeks down and not one clear-cut favorite. (Sorry, Cincinnati. Your in the lead, but ask Rutgers and WVU how that worked out.) And, if you think the picture is going to get clearer next week. Don't kid yourself, because these muddy waters haven't even seen the runoff yet. Just when you think the river is going to clear up, another storm is going to roll in.
In this league, any team can beat anyone at anyplace. From here on out, it's not a cake walk for anyone -- that includes you Syracuse football fans.
The Big East may provided bad football, but, somehow, its unpredictability is so much fun to follow.