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Oracle insight: Catching up with the Big East

Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 01:09

With Big East conference play set to begin Thursday night, The Oracle takes a closer look at how each conference team has fared during the first month of the season.

USF (4-0):

Best game: Win 23-20 at Notre Dame

Worst game: Win 52-24 vs. Texas El-Paso

USF is off to another quick start courtesy of the historic win over Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. Three successive home games against weaker opposition have provided a good period for the Bulls to get better. The offense is scoring at a clip of 45.5 points per game, 10th best in the country. Defensive issues were exposed against UTEP on Saturday.

Cincinnati (3-1):

Best game: Win 44-14 vs. N.C. State

Worst game: Loss 45-23 at Tennessee

Cincinnati's blowout victory over N.C. State on national television Sept. 15 night made a strong statement about the Big East, and the fact that it came against the Atlantic Coast Conference was nice, too. There's no shame in losing to Tennessee on the road, but the final margin could've been closer.

Connecticut (2-2):

Best game: Loss 24-21 at Vanderbilt

Worst game: Win 17-3 at Buffalo

Defending Big East champion Connecticut is off to a slow start with losses to BCS-conference opponents in Iowa State and Vanderbilt and wins over Buffalo and Fordham. The Huskies did well to lose by three on the road in Nashville, where the Commodores are having a good year thus far. A 14-point win over Buffalo is a little too close for comfort.

Louisville (2-1):

Best game: Win 24-17 at Kentucky

Worst game: Loss 24-17 vs. Florida International

In his second season at the helm in Louisville, coach Charlie Strong has struggled to score, averaging 20.7 points per game, 100th best in the country. Beating Kentucky to claim the Governor's Cup was a good win against a Southeastern Conference team, but losing to Sun Belt team FIU at home is disappointing.

Pittsburgh (2-2):

Best game: Loss 15-12 vs. Notre Dame

Worst game: Loss 31-27 at Iowa

The Panthers have not looked invincible this season, struggling to beat Maine 35-29 at home, but looked better in a tight loss to a talented Fighting Irish team. Pittsburgh looked good for three quarters on the road at Iowa, building a 27-10 lead, but collapsed in the fourth quarter.

Rutgers (2-1):

Best game: Loss 24-22 at North Carolina

Worst game: Win 38-26 vs. Ohio

The Scarlet Knights haven't really played a bad game yet, but also haven't played a noteworthy opponent. Rutgers' late rally fell short against North Carolina, but it's important to at least be competitive in early road games — something Rutgers achieved. Beating Ohio is good, but giving up 26 points at home is not.

Syracuse (3-1):

Best game: Win 33-30 OT vs. Toledo

Worst game: Win 21-14 vs. Rhode Island

Syracuse's most recent win came courtesy of an officiating mistake the Big East admitted to. Still, it counts as a win and Toledo is a decent team, despite being from a non-Automatic Qualifier conference. Rhode Island shouldn't have been able to compete with the Orange, especially not in the Carrier Dome.

West Virginia (3-1):

Best game: Win 37-31 at Maryland

Worst game: Win 55-12 vs. Norfolk State

The Mountaineers missed a chance to pull a major upset at home last weekend, but there's no shame in losing to No. 1 LSU. Beating rival Maryland in a tight game on the road counts for another win against an ACC team. A 43-point winning margin over Norfolk State isn't enough to erase the fact that WVU was losing 12-10 at home at halftime.

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