A look around the Big East

Take a team-by-team look at the Big East.

Updated: September 28, 2004, 1:37 PM ET
By Joe Bendel | Special to ESPN.com
Is Connecticut ready for prime time? Does Syracuse have a quarterback controversy? Why do they call Rutgers tight end Clark Harris "Mackey"? Our Big East notebook addresses those questions, along with looks at Pittsburgh's mediocrity, Boston College's kicking woes, the sad saga at Temple, West Virginia's rivalry with Virginia Tech and more.

Boston College
The Eagles (3-1) find themselves at a crossroads. They were considered up-and-comers throughout the Big East -- and nationally -- heading into last Saturday's Wake Forest game. Then they went out and absorbed a 17-14 last-minute loss on the road to a good, but not great, team. A home game with Division I-AA Massachusetts (2-2) will provide a temporary elixir, but the question is: Will the Eagles recapture that "we'll find a way to beat you" mentality that permeated the program in previous weeks? It could be the difference between a typical 7- or 8-win season at BC or a 10-win campaign and a BCS berth. With savvy leader Paul Peterson at quarterback, look for the Eagles to push for that double-digit victory total. "We have to get back on track," said coach Tom O'Brien, who's made it a point to warn his team that two Atlantic 10 schools have already upset I-A programs this season. UMass competes in the A-10. "We can't dwell on the last one."

  • O'Brien voiced his concerns about the kicking game heading into the season, and now we know why. Freshman Ryan Ohliger self-destructed against future ACC-foe Wake Forest and essentially cost the Eagles the game. He missed attempts of 40, 37 and 27 yards, the third of which foiled an opportunity to unnerve Wake Forest and pad the lead to seven points with 3:12 remaining. Deacons coach Jim Grobe suggested the miss gave his team a lift, leading to a game-winning 40-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining. Ohliger was brought in to improve an area that was an Achilles' heel in 2003 -- Sandro Sciortino went 11 for 18 -- but it's an area of concern again. Give Ohliger credit, though, for being stand-up about his misgivings: "I can't explain how sorry I am for the guys." His willingness to accept blame says something about his character. Time will tell if his psyche remains intact. "His psyche should be fine," O'Brien said. "We've got complete confidence in him."

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