Just two teams have reached the midway point of their 2012 season in the Big East, and the early prognosis for each is not good. These two teams may be on some form of life support when it comes to postseason play and will have to learn how to protect the football in order to keep those hopes alive in the second half with some tough conference match-ups in the future.
Record: 3-3, 0-1 Big East
Talk about a back-and-forth season. Connecticut has alternated between wins and losses through their first six games, but that trend is likely to come to an end before the end of the season. The Huskies have struggled mightily when it comes to offense (89th in passing, 116th in rushing, 112th in scoring) but their scoring defense seems to be able to keep most games within reach in spite of it. UConn has allowed just 16.2 points per game, including holding North Carolina State to 10 points and each of their past two opponents under 20 points. Connecticut is also one of the most disciplined teams in the country, with just 32 penalty yards per game (6th best in the country) but they are among the worst when it comes to ball control, ranked 117th in the nation in turnover margin (-8).
The second half of the schedule ends with a rough stretch against Pittsburgh, Louisville and Cincinnati to close out the season, but in order for postseason play to be a possibility they must get by Temple and Syracuse first. The heat is rising on head coach Paul Pasqualoni in just his second season on the job. UConn is passing, but not with high marks.
Record: 2-4, 0-2 Big East
It seems as we see this story every year. South Florida starts the season feeling good about where they stand in the Big East but hit a wall and are unable to recover. South Florida has lost four straight games, including two Big East games and a home game against Florida State. The pressure may be heating up for Skip Holtz, and after a four-game losing streak South Florida AD Doug Woolard has felt the need to release a written statement supporting Holtz and his staff.
If UConn is bad when it comes to turnovers, South Florida is a abysmal, tied for 122nd in turnover margin with a -11 (tied with Auburn, only Virginia has a worse turnover margin with -12). The Bulls are slightly below average in rushing offense and scoring offense and their passing game is slightly above the national average, but the Bulls also needed a last-minute touchdown in a rally at Nevada to even have one win against an FBS program.
South Florida has some big tests ahead of them, with road games at Louisville (this weekend), Miami and Cincinnati in addition to a home regular season finale against Pittsburgh. South Florida needs to come back in a big way to live up to any preseason expectations they may have had.
Next week we will focus on Rutgers, Syracuse, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Each will play their sixth game of the season this weekend. Temple plays an 11-game schedule this year and will play their fifth game this weekend. We will also evaluate Temple at this time to wrap up the Big East.
Kevin is a national college football writer for quadrust.com and the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast. Submit your mailbag questions via Tumblr. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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