Big East football notebook: Rutgers ranked 15th in BCS standings
Rutgers is the top-ranked Big East team in the first BCS standings, coming in 15th with what appears to be the most complete team in the conference.
You can point to quarterback Gary Nova, who throws a touchdown better than once every 10 times the ball leaves his hand (11 of 106).
Or linebacker Khaseem Greene, who's Pitt running back Ray Graham's brother. The reigning Big East Defensive Player of the Year leads the conference in solo tackles (38) after an incredible stat line in a 23-15 victory against Syracuse on Saturday: 14 total tackles, three forced fumbles, 1 1⁄2 sacks and an interception. “We are certainly not surprised by it,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said.
But what sets Rutgers apart is its streak of kick blocks — 27 since 2009, the most in Division I FBS.
With the score tied, 7-7, in the third quarter, linebacker Jamal Merrell blocked a Syracuse field goal attempt and Duron Harmon picked the ball up and ran 75 yards for a TD.
“Our players truly believe special teams can change the game and not be a way just to pass the ball back and forth,” Flood said. “We tell the team we would like to block a kick every week.”
Rutgers' win made the Scarlet Knights 6-0 for the first time since 2006 and bowl eligible for the seventh time since '05.
For his efforts in front of eight NFL scouts, Greene was named the Walter Camp Football Foundation Player of the Week.
Louisville (6-0, 1-0 and 16th in the BCS) welcomes South Florida (2-4, 0-2) on Saturday to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium with a painful reminder of why the teams are at opposite ends of the Big East standings. Louisville has 34 players who played high school football in Florida.
Two of the most prominent are quarterback Teddy Bridgewater of Northwestern High School in Miami and safety Calvin Pryor of Port St. Joe.
“It's easier for us because of the success the (Florida) players are having right now,” coach Charlie Strong said.
End of an era
Connecticut's Paul Pasqualoni, who played at Penn State and coached at Syracuse from 1991-2004, is sorry to see many old eastern rivalries disappear.
Conference realignment is the culprit, with Penn State in the Big Ten and Syracuse and Pitt moving to the ACC to join former Big East member Boston College.
“For me, who grew up in the northeast, it would have been nice to continue (the rivalries),” said Pasqualoni, who brings UConn on Friday to the Carrier Dome to play the Orange. “Football in the northeast loses a little bit when we lose people like Syracuse, Boston College and Pitt.”
The Big East has three undefeated teams ranked by the BCS, including No. 21 Cincinnati (5-0, 1-0), but six one-loss teams from other conferences are ranked higher. They are: No. 7 South Carolina, No. 9 Oklahoma, No. 10 USC, No. 11 Georgia, No. 13 West Virginia and No. 14 Florida State.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7997.