Ten weeks into the season and we’re at the point where we’re really not learning much new about the meta of the New Big East. But as a Navy fan, you have to like what the meta has shown us. The Midshipmen aren’t moving up from the #7 spot this week, but is it so bad to be sitting right smack in the middle of the new conference?
Last week I was asked by Dave69 if I thought there was a 4-4-4 pattern evolving in the New Big East. To finally answer him, I don’t see that existing in the conference.
But it’s extremely frustrating trying to break it down into parts. For example, one could say that we could define 4 “should win” teams this year based on their performances – Temple, USF, UConn, and Memphis. I think USF is having a crisis this year that may or may not cost Skip Holtz his job. But I certainly would not put the Bulls into that category long-term. Temple and UConn have had some success in the last 5 years, but are clearly regressing some this season. So at best there are 3 teams that are “should wins” in a good year for Navy. The issue with applying that to Navy’s schedule is that we’ll probably only get all 3 of those teams once every 6 years while divisional matchups rotate.
The “toss-ups” also shrink. Right now I’d put Houston, SMU, and SDSU into a toss-up category. But SDSU just beat Boise State at Boise, making them a prime candidate to move up to “stretch.” That would shrink the toss-ups to just two teams out of 13, and likely just one regular year-in-and-out opponent.
That means there is a whopping large “stretch” category. Once USF gets back on track, there will be 6 teams firmly in there – nearly half the conference. Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati, Boise State, and UCF are clearly stretch games for Navy at this point.
So there you have it. Being fairly optimistic the NBE sets up as a 6-3-3 conference right now. When you realize that our OOC schedule of Army, Air Force, Notre Dame, and a (likely) 1-AA team gives us a 1-2-1 lineup, you start to see how going 6-6 will be a really good season.
Ok, that’s my opinion. I invite others to share theirs in the comments. And now – the rankings!
1. Louisville (9-0)
Last Week #1; This Week: Won vs. Temple 45-17
I’ll admit – I didn’t watch much of this game thanks to the Army-AF game. I remember tuning in and seeing it tied at 14-all and thinking that Louisville might take a horrible loss. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Temple did return the opening kickoff for a TD and added a Montel Harris TD later in the first quarter, but it was all Louisville after that. Louisville scored on 5 of its 6 first-half possessions and limited Temple to just three drives over 9 yards after the Harris TD. Oh, and POY frontrunner Teddy Bridgewater had a career-high 5 TD passes. Louisville heads to Syracuse this weekend in their quest for 12-0 (ABC, Noon).
2. Rutgers (7-1)
Last Week #3; This Week: Bye
Rutgers is back in the polls this week after losing to Kent State two weekends ago. Kent State sits at 27th in this week’s AP poll. Still not a good loss, but not a bad one. Rutgers hosts Army this week (ESPNU, Noon).
3. Cincinnati (6-2)
Last Week #4; This Week Won 35-24 vs. Syracuse
Two weeks ago Munchie Legaux proclaimed himself to be the best QB in the league. This week he was benched against Syracuse and watched backup Brendon Kay come into the game in the 3rd quarter to rally the Bearcats. It wasn’t all on Kay though – in fact he finished with just three pass attempts. That’s because Cincinnati rode George Winn to victory. After Kay came in, 17 of the 24 Bearcats plays went through Winn, who finished with 165 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 30 carries. Cincinnati heads to Temple this weekend (Big East Network, Noon).
4. UCF (7-2)
Last Week #5; This Week: Won 42-17 vs. SMU
UCF took advantage of good field position throughout the game to roll over SMU, scoring on drives of 24, 55, 55, and 47 yards. After giving up a TD to SMU in the first quarter, the Knights held SMU to 36 yards before their garbage-time TD in the 4th. Latavius Murray had his third consecutive game with more than 150 yards rushing and his fourth consecutive with 2 or more TDs. The UCF defense also held SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert to his lowest passing output (133 yards) of the season. The Knights take their undefeated C-USA record on the road to face UTEP this week (FCS, 7pm).
5. SDSU (7-3)
Last Week #6; This Week: Won 21-19 at Boise State
San Diego State took the opening kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown and held off the Broncos late in the game to effectively end any hope of a BCS bowl for Boise State. Special teams were key for SDSU, who was outgained by Boise – a blocked punt set the Aztecs up at the BSU 8 yard line in the 3rd quarter and 2 plays later they took the lead for good. San Diego State won their 5th in a row, beat a ranked team for the first time since 1996, and are now one of 4 teams atop the MWC with one loss. Air Force comes to San Diego this weekend for a game that will likely end the MWC title hopes for one of them (NBCSN, 3pm).
6. Boise State (7-2)
Last Week #2; This Week: Lost 21-19 vs. SDSU
Putting Boise at #6 makes me realize how hard pollsters have it this late in the season. Do I think that Boise is really just one spot ahead of Navy? No – but for this week, they’re below SDSU thanks to head-to-head results. Boise was stymied for most of the 2nd half, throwing an interception on the first play of the 3rd quarter and punting on their next three drives. The Broncos managed to get a touchdown to pull within 2 late in the 4th, but did not convert the 2-point try. The Aztecs were able to run out the final five and a half minutes and seal the win. Boise travels to Hawaii this weekend (NBCSN, 7pm).
7. Navy (6-3)
Last Week #7; This Week: Won 24-17 vs. FAU
After starting the season 1-3, Navy’s ripped off 5 straight wins to become bowl eligible. The Midshipmen accepted an invitation to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on December 29th, and NAAA had e-mails going out with ticket sales information before the night was out. But before Navy thinks about Army and whatever PAC-12 team they’ll face in the bowl (a post on that later this week), they have to travel to play Troy this weekend; a Troy team that just put up 721 yards of offense at Tennessee in a 55-48 loss (ESPN3, 3:30pm).
8. SMU (4-5)
Last Week #8; This Week: Lost 42-17 at UCF
Not much more to say about this game. SMU was shut down offensively and continued to yield field position to the Knights. If the Mustangs want to make a bowl game this year, they’ll need to rebound from this loss as their next two games are their best shots at getting to 6 wins. It starts with a visit from Southern Miss (FSN, 7pm).
9. Houston (4-5)
Last Week #9; This Week: Lost 48-28 at ECU
This was a statistical show by the Pirates, perhaps exorcising some demons from their loss to Navy the week before. ECU opened with 28 unanswered points and finished with a nearly 3-to-1 advantage in time of possession. Houston managed just 28 yards on the ground, but quarterback David Piland threw for 341 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Cougars just couldn’t stop ECU in the 2nd half and were never able to get close. Houston hosts Tulsa, who currently leads C-USA’s West division, this weekend (CBSSN, 5pm).
10. Temple (3-5)
Last Week #10; This Week: Lost 45-17 at Louisville
Dropping their game against Louisville means that the Owls need to win out to make a bowl game this year. Unfortunately, Temple has dropped their last 3 while being outscored by an average of 28 points per contest, giving a bleak outlook to those prospects. Montel Harris averaged 7.7 yards on 15 carries, which was his 3rd game of the season over 100 yards. Temple will host Cincinnati this Saturday (Big East Network, Noon).
11. USF (3-6)
Last Week #11; This Week: Won 13-6 vs. UConn
USF ended its 6-game losing streak by winning an ugly contest against UConn, but it cost them dearly. Starting QB BJ Daniels left the game with an injury in the 4th quarter that was later revealed to be a broken ankle, ending his season and career at USF. Despite an up-and-down career, Daniels finishes 3rd all-time in the Big East for passing yards, with 10,501, and will finish 2nd in USF history behind Matt Grothe (whom Daniels replaced after an injury during the 2009 season). The tall order of winning out (which is becoming a theme at the bottom of the power rankings) starts in two weeks at Miami. The Bulls get a bye this week to get backup QB Matt Floyd up to speed.
12. UConn (3-6)
Last Week #12; This Week: Lost 13-6 at USF
The Huskies outgained the Bulls 327 to 283, but managed just 2 field goals. After starting the game with five consecutive punts, UConn finished with three consecutive turnovers. UConn has to win out (there it is again), beginning with a visit from Pitt this Friday (ESPN2, 8pm).
13. Memphis (1-8)
Last Week #13; This Week: Lost 38-28 at Marshall
Memphis played a spirited game in an effort to get their second win of the season. After the Thundering Herd built a 31-7 lead midway through the 3rd quarter, Memphis scored three consecutive TDs to close it to a 3 point game. But Marshall scored another touchdown midway through the 4th quarter and turned Memphis over on downs at the Marshall 31-yard line to seal the victory. Memphis hosts 2-7 Tulane this weekend (No TV, 7pm).