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Big East Bloggers Week Eleven Review
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CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 15, 2011


Each week CFN’s Big East Bloggers put the previous weekend under the microscope, looking for the Lucky 7


MB is Marc Basham, JB is Jon Berke, RG is Randy Gyorko, MP is Matthew Peaslee, and SK is Scott King.


1. OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MB: B.J. Daniels; QB, USF – Daniels helped lead the Bulls to a 37-17 upset win at Syracuse, thanks to his 371 yards of total offense and rushing TD. After a rough start to the Big East season and questions looming about his role as starter, Daniels stepped up his performance, saving his job for another week.
JB: Mohamed Sanu; WR, Rutgers - Sanu has been extraordinary this whole season, and Saturday’s win over Army was the stamp on his record-breaking year. 13 catches, 129 yards, and a new name in the Scarlet Knights record book.
RG: Mohamed Sanu; WR, Rutgers – Sanu continues to have a brilliant season. He’s caught 94 balls for 973 yards. Saturday, Sanu was a one man offense, catching 13 passes for 129 yards. Sanu is making a strong push for Big East Offensive Player of the Year.
MP: COMING
SK: Mohamed Sanu; WR, Rutgers – Sanu was the Rutgers offense on Saturday afternoon. He had 129 of the 196 Rutgers passing yards against Army. His 12 catches helped him break the Rutgers single season reception record, and the Big East reception record. Sanu is having an incredible season, 94 catches, 973 yards and 7 TDs.


2. DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
MB: Julian Miller; DE, WVU – While the Mountaineers’ defensive line has taken a lot of heat this season, Miller cooled things down following the victory over Cincinnati, racking up 7 tackles and a fumble recovery for TD.
JB: Khaseem Greene; LB, Rutgers - Greene had 13 tackles (1 TFL) in a start-to-finish strong defensive performance by the Scarlet Knights. The game was a 13-12 struggle early in the 4th quarter, so Rutgers needed every one of those stops, despite the deceptively comfortable final margin.
RG: Bruce Irvin; DE, WVU – Irvin made the biggest play of the season thus far in the Big East. In the second quarter, Irvin rushed off the edge and sacked Cincinnati QB, Zach Collaros, causing a fumble that WVU recovered for a TD. On the play, Collaros suffered a lower leg injury that will cause him to miss the rest of the season. The play not only saved WVU’s season, but opened up the Big East for everyone else.
MP: COMING
SK: Julian Miller; DE, WVU – Miller had himself a very solid game against Cincinnati on Saturday. He posted 7 tackles, and also had one of the biggest plays of the game, a fumble recovery in the end zone that put WV up 10. The Mountaineer defense played it’s best game in a while, and Miller was a big reason why.


3. SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Eain Smith; S, WVU
MB: Eain Smith; S, WVU – By blocking Cincinnati kicker Tony Miliano’s field goal as time expired, Smith did more than just notch another victory for the Mountaineers - he put them back in the thick of the conference title hunt. It also doesn’t hurt that he recorded the first blocked field goal for the Mountaineers since 2004.
JB: Eain Smith; S, WVU - Easiest pick of the week by far. Smith’s block of Cincinnati’s tying 31-yd field goal caused a seismic shift in the Big East. It took down the top team in the conference, kept the Mountaineers in the race for the conference crown, and gives them some positive momentum heading into their tough finishing kick (vs. Pitt, @USF).
RG: Eain Smith; S, WVU – Pretty easy choice here. When Smith burst through the Cincinnati protection to block the potential game tying FG, coaches, fans, and players throughout the Big East celebrated.
MP: COMING
SK: Eain Smith; S, WVU – Smith made the biggest play of the West Virginia season by blocking the game tying FG attempt by Cincinnati.


4. COACH OF THE WEEK
MB: Dana Holgorsen; WVU – After calling out his players for a lack of effort in a loss to Louisville, Holgorsen’s squad responded well in the Queen City playing their most complete Big East game of the season.
JB: Skip Holtz ; USF - It would have been easy for South Florida to pack it in for this season. They’re already out of the conference title race (after looking like a top contender early), and seemed in danger of missing a bowl altogether. A big road win in the Carrier Dome means the Bulls can still salvage the season - and with 3 straight big home games (Miami, Louisville, West Virginia), they’ve got plenty of chances left to make their mark on this year.
RG: Todd Graham ; Pitt – It would have been very easy for Pitt to give up on the season. They had just lost All Conference RB Ray Graham for the season. They lost a heartbreaker the following week to Cincinnati. Instead, Graham regrouped and went to Louisville and put it to the Cardinals. Road victories aren’t easy to come by in this league. Now, the Backyard Brawl has a renewed meaning.
MP: COMING
SK: Skip Holtz; USF – Holtz had the Bulls looking like the team they were in the non-conference season on Friday night. The Bulls put up nearly 500 yards and 37 points on the Orange. That gathered them their first conference win of the season and got the Bulls to within one game of being bowl eligible. It was a win USF needed badly to snap out of their Big East funk .


5. BEST GAME OF THE WEEK: WVU v. Cincinnati
MB: WVU v. Cincinnati – While the unfortunate injury to Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros changed the complexion of this game entirely, it did not affect the quality of play. Both West Virginia and Cincinnati traded shots throughout all phases of the game, with the Mountaineers coming through with a knockout punch to end the game.
JB: WVU v. Cincinnati – Two of the top teams in the conference battled in a game that came down to a blocked chip-shot field goal as time expired. After UC QB Zach Collaros went down to injury, the heroics of backup Munchie Legaux were near-legend. He brought the Bearcats back from a double-digit halftime deficit, and actually had UC ahead in the 4th quarter. But Geno Smith was up to the task, and directed a 12-play touchdown drive to put the Mountaineers up 24-21. That would set the stage for WVU’s huge blocked FG by Eain Smith, cementing arguably the first signature win of the Dana Holgorson era.
RG: WVU v. Cincinnati – This game had a bit of everything. Offensive outbursts at time (Stedman Bailey’s long TD catch, Isaiah Pead’s entire first quarter), Defensive dominance (Bruce Irvin’s sack/forced fumble), Special Teams breakdowns (WVU having yet another kick blocked), and Special Teams heroics (Eain Smith’s blocked FG attempt). The game was back and forth the whole way. Now, the Big East enters the stretch run wide open.
MP: COMING
SK: WVU v. Cincinnati – The Mountaineers pulled out to a 10 point lead at halftime, but Cincinnati back up QB Munchie Legaux pulled off a 65 yard run, and later a 7 yard TD run, to get UC within 3. Legaux hit Isaiah Pead with a 45 yard pass leading to a Pead TD to put UC in front. Geno Smith marched his team down the field on the next drive. Shawne Alston punched in a run from 1 yard out. Cincinnati drove deep into WV territory late, but played for the FG attempt. That would hurt as the kick was blocked.


6. BIGGEST SURPRISE OF THE WEEK
MB: South Florida – After being the league’s hottest team entering conference play, the Bulls, in typical fashion, laid an egg as the season wore on. However, a convincing win against a faltering Syracuse team provided hope for salvaging the season just yet.
JB: Everything and Nothing – The Big East’s only consistent truth is how inconsistent every team has been. WVU bites it big against Louisville last week? No problem, they take down the league’s top team on the road. Louisville is on the rise as Pitt freefalls? Time for the Panthers to take down the Cardinals in their own house. USF can’t win a Big East game? They get their first in the Carrier Dome - possibly the site of the zaniest group of games this season. Only Rutgers’s win over Army wasn’t a huge shock.
RG: USF – I thought the Bulls were done. It appeared they were following a similar script. Starting fast and fading as the season came to a close. If you look closer though, you’ll notice how close the Bulls are to being the top dog. They’ve lost on the road by single digits to UCONN and Rutgers (in OT) and by 3 at home to Cincinnati (had a late lead of double digits). The Bulls are 3 plays away from being in first place. And they host Louisville and WVU in their last two league games. They won’t win the league, but they’ll probably have a say in who does.
MP: COMING
SK: Pittsburgh – The Panthers went to Louisville and pretty much dominated from start to finish. The Cardinals might have spent their week playing Call of Duty, but the Panthers spent it coming up with a gameplan to get 200 yards rushing. The Panthers keep their Big East Championship hopes alive another week, while earning a tiebreaker over Louisville.


7. BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE WEEK
MB: Zach Collaros’ injury – It’s very possible that the Big East has seen the last of Collaros; arguably one of the most dynamic players in the league. While there is hope his broken right ankle will heal in time for the bowl game, it’s still a shame that his fantastic career as the Bearcats signal caller may be over in this fashion.
JB: Zach Collaros’s injury – Not only did the Big East lose one of its best quarterbacks and leaders, but his injury undoubtedly affected the conference race. It’s always difficult to say what might have happened. Certainly Collaros’s backup, Munchie Legaux, played as well as anybody could given the situation. However, given how close the WVU/UC game was and how significant its impact is on the conference race, it’s a massive shame Collaros didn’t get the chance to see it through. It’s never easy to replace a starting QB - but it’s nearly impossible to do so when you have one as good as Zach Collaros.
RG: Zach Collaros’s injury – He was the gasoline that fueled Cincinnati’s ascent to the top of the Big East’s standings. It’s hard to imagine WVU holding off a Collaros led comeback on Saturday. Munchie Legeaux just wasn’t respected enough by the WVU defense to beat them with his arm. Cincinnati has a good team, and Pead is a workhorse RB, but it’s hard to imagine Cincinnati running the table and winning the Big East w/o Collaros. I’ll miss watching him play.
MP: COMING
SK: Syracuse – Syracuse was 5-2 after their thrashing of West Virginia. Since then, they have looked like the worst team in the league. They were beaten in every facet by South Florida. That follows games in which they couldn’t get out of their own way against UConn and were soundly defeated by Louisville. Syracuse looked like they could have been a contender, but haven’t answered the bell since getting knocked down.


Please follow Matthew Peaslee on Twitter @pittpeaswv, Scott King @BearcatsBlog, Jon Berke @jonbcfn, Randy Gyorko @gyorkocfn and Marc Basham @marc_b.