Although Pitt appears to be on the verge of making this a three horse race, the divide between the top four (Shaq) and bottom four (Kobe) remains easily defined and quite significant. For the record, anytime we have the chance to take a shot at Kobe Bryant we're going to take it, and then we're going to write an explanatory statement like this one in order to make sure that there's no confusion and as many people as possible know how much we loathe the guy.
This week in the Big East is kind of like when Leno or Letterman have the fat guy from "My Name is Earl" who was Frankie the Enforcer on "Boy Meets World", some crazy cooking lady, and a band no one has ever heard of as their lineup. They have to say "we've got a great show" even though everyone involved, including the guests, know that going to a taping of "Who in the Audience Wants to Get Stabbed?" would have been a better choice for the poor souls serving as spectators that late afternoon.
Louisville and West Virginia are off, and Rutgers is playing Connecticut. Other teams in the conference are playing, but even though they'd never admit it, we can almost guarantee that every major conference official is focused on or working on something directly related to Nov. 2.
Anyhow here are the power rankings pre-"End Game":
1. West Virginia (1) (7-0, 2-0)
Last Week: Beat Connecticut 37-11
This Week: Off
A more impressive win over a lesser opponent for a second straight week strengthens the 'Eers hold on #1 as they prepare to head for the greatest city in the world.
2. Louisville (2) (7-0, 2-0)
Last Week: Beat Syracuse 28-13
This Week: Off
We've been talking about Petrino not wanting to show his cards (pun) in the weeks leading up to the WVU game for so long that if we open up next Thursday with a three-and-out consisting of two dives and a screen, we're going to cry. Then we're going to compose ourselves and watch the rest of the game.
3. Rutgers (3) (7-0, 2-0)
Last Week: Beat Pitt 20-10
This Week: vs. Connecticut
The Scarlet Knights actually have a legitimate gripe for not being #1 on this list. They're 7-0 just like Louisville and West Virginia, and they have arguably the most impressive non-conference (Navy) win and easily the most impressive conference (Pitt) win of the three. Still...they're f-ing Rutgers. No player has meant more to his team's success than Ray Rice, and if more people don't start talking about the guy for Heisman than we're going keep writing about him while the silence continues.
4. Pittsburgh (4) (6-2, 2-1)
Last Week: Lost to Rutgers 20-10
This Week: Off
We believe we nailed the Tyler Palko prediction, as well as the game prediction. We'll take your hot significant other and some bagel bites now thank you.
5. Cincinnati (7)(4-4, 1-2)
Last Week: Beat South Florida 23-6
This Week: vs. Syracuse
Absolutely enormous win for Mark Dantonio and the Bearcats over South Florida. A win over Syracuse this week not only locks them into the fifth best team in the league spot, but sets them up to be a Uconn win away from being bowl eligible.
6. South Florida (5) (5-3, 1-2)
Last Week: Lost to Cincinnati 23-6
This Week: Off
Matt "Gunner/Herbert" Grothe (oh yes, Herbert is most definitely back on the table) defied physics and threw for just 47 yards as the Bulls laid a huge egg at Nippert Stadium. All that stuff about South Florida playing their best football of the season and being poised to dominate Cincinnati....here's your hot significant other, and here are your bagel bites. Damnit.
7. Syracuse (6) (3-5, 0-3)
Last Week: Lost to Louisville 28-13
This Week: At Cincinnati
This is what happens when you put a scare into us Syracuse, you move down, don't ever let it happen again.
The fact that Syracuse has opened with Pitt, Louisville, and West Virginia coupled with Cincy's big win over USF, ultimately dooms the 'Cuse into dropping into the cellar on-deck circle. Going toe-to-toe with the biggest names in the Big East early in the conference season could be beneficial to Paul Robinson's guys, and we wouldn't be surprised if they ended up winning three of their last four.
8. Connecticut (8) (3-4, 0-2)
Last Week: Lost 37-11 to West Virginia
This Week: At Rutgers
Gettin' real tired of you duckin' us Calhoun. We only want what we're owed.
At Rutgers? Ha. Get comfy.
See you in hell Uconn football, see you in prognosticating-ruining hell.