Let conference play begin
The non-conference portion of the West Virginia University football schedule is over. Beginning this Thursday night the West Virginia football team will begin its quest for a Big East Football Championship and the accompanying BCS bowl. First up for the Mountaineers is a recent nemesis in South Florida. The Bulls have been a thorn in the side of the Mountaineers since the school with the fledgling football program joined the Big East. The Bulls are 3-2 following a surprising 13-9 loss to Syracuse in their conference opener last Saturday at home.
WVU is 4-1 coming off an easy 49-10 win over undermanned UNLV last Saturday. The Rebels reported over 20 injuries on their injury report and their best wide receiver was suspended for the game. While it did indeed appear that WVU turned up the offense a notch, not much in the way of any conclusions can be drawn from Saturday’s game.
What has been determined, at least by West Virginia fans, and the national media, is that the Big East is down this year. When the pre season rankings were announced Pitt was the clear favorite to win the conference. West Virginia was lumped in with Connecticut, Cincinnati, South Florida and Rutgers as teams that could challenge the Panthers.
Based on results so far, most of those teams have been deemed overrated. West Virginia has risen above those other league members, if you believe the blue and gold fans. Yes, I know it is shocking, but WVU fans are calling the Big East Championship a done deal. I am a fan too, but one not quite ready to bet the farm on a league title.
Hanging your hat on a six-point loss to LSU, a miracle win over Marshall and victories over Maryland, Las Vegas and Coastal Carolina is perhaps not the best barometer to go on. One thing is for sure, the Big East is taking a hit in the national media with its early season losses to out of conference foes. That happens regularly, but in recent seasons when some talking head would wonder why the Big East retains its automatic BCS bid, computer data would support the conference with either a second or third rating among all conferences. It does not look like the Big East will have that defense available this year.
That should hardly matter, the Big East’s bid to the BCS isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but if you are a fan of a Big East team get ready to hear all about how bad the conference is. I mean if we hear it all the time when the numbers don’t support the criticism, just think how much noise there will be when the talking heads have facts on their side.
The X factor here is how much will these teams improve? Yes, the Mountaineers look like the best team in the Big East right now, but a team like Pitt with injuries on defense and inexperience along the offensive line and at quarterback, could look like a different ball club in six weeks.