Big East: Mid-Season Overview
Offensive Player of the Year: Brian Brohm, Lousville
There is no question that Louisville has fallen well below expectations this season, but it is by no fault of their quarterback. Brohm has already thrown for over 2700 yards and has 23 touchdowns though seven games. There is plenty of time for someone else, on a more successful team, to step up and take this award, but so far West Virginia's Patrick White and Steve Slaton, Rutgers' Ray Rice, and USF's Matt Grothe (the best player on the best team) have not been as productive as expected.
Defensive Player of the Year: George Selvie, USF
The Bulls' defensive end is the easy choice here. Selvie, just a sophomore, has 11.5 sacks and his 21 tackles for loss have sent his opponents backwards to the tune of 92 yards. The best player on the best defense in the conference.
Rookie of the Year: LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
Literally, the lone bright spot in a miserable Panthers' season. Without a quality quarterback and with their best wide receiver out for the season with an injury, McCoy has been a workhorse with 668 yards rushing for 9 touchdowns, as well as catching 15 passes and occasionally even acting as the team's quarterback. WVU's Noel Devine and USF Mike Ford will likely play a bigger role in determining the Big East's championship, but McCoy has taken advantage of the workload given to him and is the clear front runner for this award.
Coach of the Year: Brian Kelly, Cincinnati
Flip a coin between UC's Brian Kelly and USF's Jim Leavitt. Both will be in high demand following successful, overachieving (half-) seasons, so it will be imperative for the long term success of the Big East to retain these two outstanding head coaches. Honorable mention goes to UConn's Randy Edsall, who was able to find and quickly develop a junior college quarterback, open the season 5-0 (albeit against inferior competition), and get himself off of the hot seat.
On to the Games of the Week...
USF at Rutgers (Thurs., 7:30 PM EST -- ESPN) -- It probably does not need to be stated, but this is easily one of the most important games in the Big East this season. If they are able to win the next six games, USF is in the position to both win the Big East and play for the BCS championship. Rutgers needs this one to stay in the hunt for the conference championship and, with a win here, they will likely find themselves back in top 25 territory. USF is battle tested and will be ready to play in this game, their toughest remaining game. USF 27, Rutgers 20
Louisville at Connecticut (Fri., 8:00 PM EST -- ESPN) -- An important game for the pecking order within the conference. Louisville can turn their season back around and probably eventually re-enter the top 25 if they can put together a nice winning streak to end the season. The Huskies can earn a lot of respect by beating a quality opponent for the first time this season AND, a win over Louisville would likely vault UConn into the top half of the conference pecking order. Louisville is vulnerable to teams that pass well, but I'm not sure UConn's offensive is good enough to outscore the Cards. Louisville 41, UConn 31
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh (Sat., 12:00 PM EST -- ESPN Gameplan) -- Two teams heading in different directions and it has everything to do with coaching. The Bearcats feature a fresh, new offense and an attacking, turnover-creating defensive run by a dynamic head coach, while Pittsburgh runs an undermanned, stale, "pro-style" offense and a responsive defensive headed by a coach on the hot seat. This one could be ugly. Cincinnati 34, Pittsburgh 6
Mississippi State at West Virginia (Sat., 3:30 PM EST -- ESPN Gameplan) -- Mississippi State is a solid team, but as a result of playing in the tough SEC, they are currently suffering from some injuries. Their loss to USF aside, WVU seems to be one of the better all-around teams in the country, as their defense (currently ranked #5 nationally) seems to have caught up to their explosive offense a bit. I think the Bulldogs will have a tough time stopping the Mountaineers' ground game. WVU 48, Mississippi State 17
Buffalo at Syracuse (Sat., 4:00 PM EST -- ESPNU) -- At first glance, this does not look like that important of a game, but I can guarantee you that Syracuse coach Greg Robinson considers this game against Buffalo as a must-win. For the first time in several seasons, I feel like Syracuse is showing some signs of improvement on offense. I'm not sure if there will be enough long-term growth from this team to save Robinson's job, but I think the Orange will be alright against the Bulls. Syracuse 27, Buffalo 17
A quick look at the Big East at the halfway mark.