Six of the seven BIG EAST teams in action Saturday played on the road, and Rutgers and Louisville were able to come away with satisfying wins away from home to remain unbeaten in 2012.
The road is nothing new for Rutgers, which improved to 3-0 away from home and 4-0 overall with a 35-26 win at Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights fell behind 10-0, but took control in the second quarter to finish with a 525-492 advantage in total offense and a 26-17 edge in first downs against an opponent that was a preseason top-10 pick. QB Gary Nova had a breakout game as he completed 25 of 35 passes for 397 yards and five touchdowns, while RB Jawan Jamison turned in his fifth straight 100-yard performance with 118 rushing yards on 33 carries. Defensively, the Scarlet Knights withstood an incredible performance by Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton, who had 10 catches for an SEC-record 303 yards with three touchdowns. Rutgers held Arkansas to just 2-of-11 on third down and came up with two key interceptions as the Razorbacks threatened to come back.
Louisville is also 4-0 after the Cardinals had to work for a 28-21 win at Florida International. The Cardinals scored once in each quarter, with a 1-yard touchdown run by QB Teddy Bridgewater holding up as the difference in an otherwise evenly played game. Bridgewater, a Miami native, threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns to go with his rushing score in front of his hometown crowd.
Pittsbugh was the only BIG EAST team to play at home Saturday and the Panthers rewarded their home crowd with a 55-10 win against Gardner-Webb at Heinz Field. The Panthers held a 7-3 lead after the first quarter, but exploded for 20 second-quarter points and had all of the scoring in the second half to even their record at 2-2. QB Tino Sunseri threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns, while WR Mike Shanahan had five receptions for 144 yards and two scores, bettering his career high in yardage for the second straight game.
Temple fell to 1-2 after the Owls came up short in a 24-13 loss at Penn State. Penn State took a lead at the end of the first quarter and Temple was unable to connect on a number of big play opportunities that could have made things interesting. QB Chris Coyer threw for 124 yards and a touchdown and was Temple’s leading rusher with 64 yards on 13 carries.
Syracuse, which had averaged nearly 33 points and more than 500 yards of offense in its first three games, was unable to find an offensive rhythm in a 17-10 loss at Minnesota. The Orange lost four turnovers to offset a solid individual performance by WR Alec Lemon. Lemon had nine catches for 106 yards and became Syracuse’s career leader in receptions (145).
Connecticut fell behind Western Michigan early in Kalamazoo, Mich., and saw a second-half comeback bid come up short in a 30-24 loss to the Broncos. The Huskies, who didn’t have a touchdown pass in their first three games, got three TD passes from QB Chandler Whitmer, who threw for a career-high 333 yards. But Western Michigan got the deciding points on a 50-yard fumble return midway through the fourth quarter.
USF dropped a rare nonconference game as the Bulls saw Ball State rally for a 31-27 win in Muncie, Ind. USF had scored the go-ahead points on a 99-yard drive with 4:12 left in regulation, but the Cardinals struck with 1:02 left to give the Bulls their second straight loss. QB B.J. Daniels threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries for USF.