Downs & Distance

Big East proving it’s not dead yet

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has led his team to a fast start this season.
Lynne Sladky/AP
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has led his team to a fast start this season.

Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

Perfect response

After the first month of the season, one thing is for sure: Reports of the Big East’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. A quick check of the Top 25 finds three undefeated entries from the conference that has been repeatedly written off for dead after the defections of West Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. No. 18 Louisville (QB Teddy Bridgewater is one to watch), No. 20 Rutgers (it’s not missing Greg Schiano), and No. 21 Cincinnati (outscoring foes, 136-55) are for real and are a combined 14-0. Commissioner Mike Aresco’s league (which clearly needs a new name, given that half the teams aren’t in the East) gets even stronger next season when Boise State (currently ranked No. 24) signs on.

This is dedicated

Sad story out of Lewiston, Maine, where Bates freshman receiver Troy Pappas died last week from injuries suffered from a fall in a dormitory stairwell. The Bobcats, who stunned Williams, 33-6, a day after Pappas’s death, have dedicated their season in memory of the 18-year-old, who starred at Marshwood High in South Berwick. Coach Mark Harriman told the Portland Press Herald the team will have Pappas’s No. 8 jersey on hand at all of its practices and games. In addition, the Bobcats will wear decals with his number and initials on their helmets. The upstart Bobcats (2-1), who are averaging 239 yards rushing, face a huge test Saturday when they host undefeated NESCAC rival Wesleyan.

Everything clicked

Last Saturday was one of the all-time great days when it came to doing absolutely nothing but parking your tuchus in the La-Z-Boy and giving the remote a workout. The action started with “College Gameday” and followed with Florida’s upset of LSU. But things really got going in the early evening, beginning with four entertaining — and overlapping — games. There was South Carolina’s throttling of Georgia, Notre Dame’s second-half pounding of Miami, West Virginia’s shootout win over Texas (just give Geno Smith the Heisman already), and North Carolina State’s upset of Florida State. After wearing out the batteries in the clicker, the day was capped by Oregon’s high-flying Ducks blistering Washington.

Tech support


Now seems like a good time to give props to Sonny Dykes’s Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, since there’s a good chance their magical season could go poof Saturday night when Texas A&M comes to Shreveport. This game, which was originally supposed to be the teams’ opener (but was delayed by Hurricane Isaac) could have huge BCS ramifications. If the No. 23 Bulldogs can topple the No. 22 Aggies, they have a legitimate shot at going undefeated (there are no speed bumps the rest of the way) and could become the latest WAC team to throw the BCS into a tizzy. One thing is for sure: The scoreboard operator will be busy in this one. The Bulldogs rank third in the nation at 53.2 points per game, while the Aggies are eighth at 44.6.

Jim McBride can be reached at