BIG EAST teams were a combined 4-4 in the opening week of the 2010 season, with the four winners going largely unchallenged in outscoring their opponents by a combined 150-17 margin.
Of the four teams that lost, however, three were ranked among the top four in the BIG EAST’s preseason media poll, suggesting that the race for the 2010 title might be closer than originally thought.
New coaches and new quarterbacks seemed to be the order of the week as the BIG EAST introduced three first-time starters behind center and three coaches making their BIG EAST debuts.
Syracuse, which had a new starting QB in Ryan Nassib and a second-year head coach in Doug Marrone, appeared to be the sharpest BIG EAST team from start to finish on Opening Day as the Orange scored a 29-3 win at Akron. Nassib threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-27 passing and the defense rode a standout performance from cornerback Mike Holmes to the comfortable win. Holmes scored on a 57-yard blocked field goal return and added six tackles and a sack. The only BIG EAST team to open with back-to-back road games, Syracuse heads to Seattle to face Washington in Week 2.
USF gave new head coach Skip Holtz an emphatic win in Holtz’s first game on the Bulls’ sideline as QB B.J. Daniels threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in a 59-14 win against Stony Brook at Raymond James Stadium. USF found itself in a 14-7 deficit early in the game, but the Bulls reeled off the last 52 points, getting touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams to win their fifth straight season-opener. USF’s first offensive play was a 52-yard touchdown pass from Daniels to WR Dontavia Bogan, setting the stage for an offense that put up 563 yards.
West Virginia and Rutgers both turned in 31-0 wins against Championship Subdivision opponents as the Mountaineers handled Coastal Carolina and the Scarlet Knights pulled away from Norfolk State.
West Virginia was led by RB Noel Devine, who ran for 111 yards and a touchdown, while QB Geno Smith threw two TD passes in his first career start. The Mountaineer defense didn’t allow the Chanticleers to cross the 20-yard line. Rutgers, meanwhile, held Norfolk State without a third-down conversion, blocked two punts and limited the Spartans to just 25 rushing yards and 131 total yards. RB Joe Martinek gave the offense a lift in the second half as he finished with 109 yards on 20 carries.
Connecticut opened in front of the largest crowd in college football history as 113,090 fans saw the Huskies’ four-game winning streak end with a 30-10 loss at Michigan. The Huskies threatened to close within a touchdown in the third quarter, but an untimely fumble inside the Wolverine 5-yard line ended a scoring drive and led to a Michigan TD.
A Papa John’s Stadium-record crowd of 55,327 was on hand for the Governor’s Cup showdown between Louisville and Kentucky. But the Cardinals were unable to deliver a win to new head coach Charlie Strong as Kentucky held on for a 23-16 decision.
Cincinnati and new head coach Butch Jones appeared to have things well in hand at Fresno State as the Bearcats held a 14-0 lead and limited the Bulldogs without a first down for most of the first half. But the home team responded in the second half to score the last 28 points of the game and take a 28-14 win.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, battled back from a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Utah scored on its first overtime possession to hand the Panthers a 27-24 setback in Salt Lake City.
All eight BIG EAST teams are back in action in Week 2, with two in-state rivalries highlighting the docket. West Virginia gets things started Friday when the Mountaineers visit Marshall for the annual Friends of Coal Bowl (7 p.m., ESPN). USF, meanwhile, heads to Gainesville, Fla., Saturday to face Florida for the first time (12:20 p.m., SEC Network).