Perhaps underscoring the overall competitiveness in the BIG EAST in 2010, the first two conference games to go into the books were decided by a combined seven points. Meanwhile, four BIG EAST teams completed the nonconference portions of their respective schedules, with the three winning teams prevailing by an average of 45.7 points.
The BIG EAST season began Friday night with a back-and-forth matchup between Rutgers and Connecticut that had plenty of storylines. The Huskies brought in the leagueâ€™s top-rated scoring offense, while the Scarlet Knights stood with the stingiest defense. Rutgers, meanwhile, had questions at quarterback with an injury to Tom Savage, leaving freshman Chas Dodd to make his first career start against a Connecticut side that had scored three defensive touchdowns in the last two games.
Dodd was up to the challenge, however, as he threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns without an interception to lead Rutgers to a 27-24 win at Rutgers Stadium. Connecticut had scored on its last three possessions of the third quarter to hold a 24-17 lead that stood for most of the fourth quarter. But Doddâ€™s 52-yard touchdown strike to Mark Harrison tied it at 24-24 with 3:53 left and his 45-yard pass to Jeremy Deering set up San San Teâ€™s game-winning field goal with 13 seconds left.
Harrison and Deering both had at least 100 receiving yards for Rutgers, which had a season-high 453 yards of offense. Connecticut was led by running back Jordan Todman, who registered his fifth 100-yard game of the year with 123 yards on 24 carries.
Syracuse is also off to a 1-0 start in BIG EAST play after the Orange scored a 13-9 win against USF in Tampa.
Syracuseâ€™s defense was the story as the Orange limited the Bulls to 219 yards of offense, had two interceptions and four sacks and blocked a PAT. That was enough to allow Ryan Nassibâ€™s 3-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Sales with 7:15 left in the fourth quarter stand up as the gamewinner, lifting Syracuse to its fourth win in its first five games. The 4-1 start is the Orangeâ€™s first since the 1999 season.
Safety Max Suter had a game-high eight tackles with three tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble for the Orange, who return to the Carrier Dome to face Pittsburgh Saturday.
Louisville turned in its best effort of the season as the Cardinals rolled to a 56-0 win against Memphis at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. The Cardinals scored 28 points in the second quarter to hold a 35-0 halftime lead and had little trouble the rest of the way.
Running back Bilal Powell went for 204 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Adam Froman completed 12 of 16 passes for 235 yards and four TDs to help Louisville get to 3-2 overall.
West Virginia similarly held a 35-0 lead at halftime as the Mountaineers scored a 49-10 win against UNLV at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Mountaineers had too many playmakers for the Rebels to handle as West Virginia had four scoring plays of at least 28 yards. Wide receiver Brad Starks had a career day with four receptions for 100 yards and three touchdowns as West Virginia improved to 4-1.
Not to be outdone, Cincinnati scored 45 points in the first half against Miami (Ohio) as the 45-3 halftime lead stood up as the final score in the annual Battle for the Victory Bell. It was the most lopsided result in the 109 meetings between the rivals, who first played in 1888.
Quarterback Zach Collaros was 14-of-17 for 216 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Isaiah Pead ran for 197 yards and a TD â€” all in the first half â€” to lift the Bearcats to 2-3 on the year.
The only nonconference loss of the weekend came when Pittsburgh came up short in a 23-17 setback at Notre Dame. The Panthers trailed 20-3 in the third quarter, but closed to within six on Tino Sunseriâ€™s touchdown run and a TD pass from Sunseri to Jon Baldwin. But the Panthers couldnâ€™t get the go-ahead points on two possessions in the last 3:15.