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Big East Philosophy: Mountaineers stand at peak

Are Geno Smith and Noel Devine the new Pat White and Steve Slaton? If not, they still look to be the class of the Big East. (Icon SMI)

Finally, three weeks into the season, Big East fantasy football players (and the Big East in general) have found their ‘team.’

The conference itself had another collective losing weekend (2-3, with one win coming against FCS Maine), but the West Virginia Mountaineers seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. WVU beat up Ralph Friedgen‘s Maryland Terrapins, giving the team two wins against FBS schools.

The rest of the Big East is a collective 2-9 against FBS schools. The ‘Neers have a number of options on offense, and defense for that matter, that will put up big numbers throughout the season in a defenseless Big East Conference.

Maryland @ West Virginia – Let’s start right there with those Mountaineers. One week after needing a frantic fourth quarter comeback to beat Marshall, West Virginia jumped out to a 28 – 0 lead against the Terps. As per usual running back Noel Devine rushed for 131 yards on 27 carries (4.9 yds per) for the ‘Neers, but it’s obvious that Bill Stewart has turned the offense over to Sophomore quarterback Geno Smith. Smith threw for 268 yards and a career high four touchdowns against a supposed stout Maryland defense as WVU won 31 – 17. Smith’s favorite target is wide out sophomore Tavon Austin, who caught 7 balls for 106 yards and the first two WVU touchdowns of the day. Although those two touchdowns were the first of the year for Austin, he has been targeted more than any other receiver through three games. Senior Jock Sanders also had another good game with 86 yards and an average of over 14 yards per catch. After LSU this weekend (in Baton Rouge), Smith, Devine, Austin, and Sanders are locks for big numbers the rest of the season.

Orange WR Van Chew (82) celebrates with Alec Lemon (15) - this is happening much more often in 2010. (Icon SMI)

Maine @ Syracuse – The Orange won this game 38 – 14. That’s what the box score tells us so it must be true, but this game was anything but an aesthetical master piece for Syracuse. It’s clear to me that Orange head coach Doug Marrone‘s rebuild project is much tougher than most Syracuse fans had anticipated. That’s the bad news, the good news is that Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib has taken full control of the offense. The former Greg Paulus understudy threw for 260 yards and an Orange record five touchdowns in Syracuse’s 38 – 14 win over the FCS Black Bears. Four of those scores went to four different receivers. The main target for Nassib has been Junior Van Chew (Yup, that’s his full name) who caught 7 passes for 113 yards and one score. Sophomore receiver Alec Lemon hauled in two Nassib touchdowns as well. Another potential big point of issue for Syracuse is the fact that Senior running back Delone Carter has yet to get rolling this season. Against a small Maine front seven, Carter rushed 15 times for 65 yards and zero scores. On the year Carter has just one touchdown and hasn’t broke the century mark yet this season.

Cincinnati @ North Carolina State – In a battle of the two bottom feeder BCS conferences (one could call this the Toilet Bowl), the Wolfpack took the wood to Butch Jones‘ Bearcats, 30 – 19. Cincinnati Junior quarterback Zach Collaros did have a nice game throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns. The Cincinnati signal caller also rushed for 32 yards on, a ridiculous for a quarterback, 22 carries. Collaros and Junior wide out D.J. Woods have a good rapport with each other (Woods had 6 catches for 146 yards and two scores against NC State), but Cincinnati seems like a train wreck right now. Collaros was far and away the leading rusher in that game and with 22 carries it’s more likely he will get hurt sooner than later. Woods has developed into a ‘Fantasy Sleeper’ but I still would not feel comfortable starting anyone from Cinncy.

Connecticut @ Temple – It’s ironic that the Owls beat the Big East Huskies 30 – 19 five years after the Big East kicked Temple out of the conference. The preseason national buzz surrounding Connecticut has completely dissipated after Michigan torched the Huskies and now that Temple put up over 350 yards against the Husky defense the buzz for this season might be dead even in Storrs! The lone bright spot for UConn in this game, and possibly for the season, was Junior running back Jordan Todman. Todman rushed for 192 yards and one score on just 26 carries. With home games against Buffalo and Vanderbilt up next, followed by a trip to Rutgers, Todman is a must start. The rest of Connecticut is much like the rest of the Big East, save for West Virginia, for fantasy owners, play a Husky at your own risk.

Louisville @ Oregon State – Who amongst us would have thought that the corpse of the Louisville Cardinals offense would come to life in Corvallis against the Beavers? If you are raising your hand right now your a liar. Louisville amassed a season high 453 total yards and had a chance to win this game late, ultimately losing to Oregon State by a score of 35 – 28. Cards quarterback Adam ‘Maybe You Can Call Me The Sausage King Of Chicago After All’ Froman (I still hate that snooty waiter) threw for 288 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for 46 yards and two more scores! After looking serviceable against Eastern Kentucky and putting up decent number against the Beaver Froman may be working himself into a threat at quarterback. Yet, in watching this game (again I am a glutton for punishment) it seemed to me that

  • A. Oregon State took Louisville lightly and
  • B. the Beavers may not be nearly as good as the experts thought.

I would still stay far away from any of the Red Birds outside of their next game back at Papa Johns against Sun Belt Arkansas State. Froman and running back Bilal Powell, and maybe even the ghost of Vic Anderson, will have huge numbers against a Red Wolves team that hasn’t  given up less than 30 points in a game this season.

Matt McCluskey is the voice of North Country Sports on WNER 1410 ESPN Radio near Syracuse NY. It is Matt Mc’s Sports Fix, and we all need a hit. http://twitter.com/McsSportsFix


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