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Big East notebook: Offenses lag way behind

| Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, 8:22 p.m.
Rutgers defenders take down Connecticut quarterback Scott McCummings on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. The Scarlet Knights' stingy defense has come to symbolize the Big East, which doesn't have a team ranked in the nation's top 30 in points per game. (AP)

Scoring is skyrocketing all over college football, but the Big East remains on the launching pad.

In the most recent FBS statistics, five schools — Oklahoma State, Baylor, Louisiana Tech, Oregon and West Virginia — are averaging at least 52 points per game. The first Big East school to appear on the list is Cincinnati at No. 36 (34 points).

Is it any wonder West Virginia wanted out of the Big East so desperately? The Mountaineers just didn't fit there any longer.

The Big East has become a conference of defense, led by undefeated Rutgers, which is fifth in the nation in scoring defense at 10.8 points allowed per game. Cincinnati (No. 13), Connecticut (No. 21) and Louisville (No. 27) also are holding opposing offenses in check.

Even Pitt, which started the season by giving up 31 points to Youngstown State, is 22nd in the nation in total defense (320.2 yards per game).

“Statistically, this is probably the best defense we've faced in the four years since we've been here,” said Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, whose team visits Rutgers on Saturday.

Rutgers is first in the Big East in scoring defense, rushing defense (60.6 yards per game), interceptions (10) and turnover margin (13 gained, four lost).

The other side

Meanwhile, South Florida has fallen on hard times for the second consecutive season.

After losing seven of its final eight games in 2011, South Florida (2-4, 0-2) is on a four-game losing streak and at the bottom of the Big East standings with Pitt (2-3, 0-2).

“We've been competitive, we've been close, but that doesn't earn any brownie points,” coach Skip Holtz said.

Three-year starting quarterback B.J. Daniels is seventh in the Big East in passing efficiency (130.2).

Take a message

Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni likes Temple's Steve Addazio, respects the work he has done in a long coaching career and, in fact, has hired him twice.

But Addazio should know this: Pasqualoni will not return any of his phone calls this week. Their teams meet Saturday in Connecticut.

When Pasqualoni was coach at Western Connecticut, Addazio was his offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator from 1985-1987. When Pasqualoni became head coach at Syracuse, Addazio worked for him for four years.

They talk often — just not now.

“It's more like get your team ready to play,” Pasqualoni said. “If you get sidetracked by anything else, you might be in trouble.”

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