With a 4-4 non-conference record in its opening week, the criticism against the Big East came flying:
Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette thinks the Big East is, as Simon Cowell would put it, bizarrely dreadful.
Donnie Webb of the Post-Standard thinks the opening weekend was "lousy."
Even ESPN.com's Big East blogger Brian Bennett called the first week "brutal."
True, it was far from ideal. But it wasn't the end of the world (and to be fair, Bennett's piece was along those same lines). A closer look reveals that the 4-4 record was far from disastrous.
West Virginia, South Florida, Syracuse, and Rutgers all won in blowouts against lesser teams. But let's analyze the losses a bit:
Pitt lost a tough game on the road at Utah in overtime. Losing in overtime by a field goal to a team that is unbeaten in its past 18 home contests is hardly cause for shame. It would have been nice for the Panthers to win that game, but the fact is that they were slight underdogs and the loss wasn't a shock.
The other game that's causing some stir is the Michigan-Connecticut game. Connecticut, while a trendy pick to make some noise in the Big East, is a solid but unspectacular team. The Huskies were a pedestrian 7-5 in last year's regular season while Michigan was 5-7. The Wolverines will be improved this season and with Rich Rodriguez's job likely on the line, is it any surprise that they won their opener at home? (Now the amount by which they won is another issue.)
Louisville lost at Kentucky, but the Cardinals could be the Big East's worst team, so to expect them to win any game against a BCS-conference team is a bit of a reach.
The Cincinnati-Fresno State game is the only one I would consider an upset. Still, while I would have expected Cincinnati to win, it's not a tremendous surprise that the Bearcats lost: they have a suspect defense, they are without some of the stars from last year's 12-1 team, and they played a pass-happy team on the road.
If you've been reading intently, you'll notice that all four Big East losses came on the road. It's fair to say that home teams have an added advantage in season openers. The crowds are more full and optimism is in the air. Other than the Cincinnati game, the losses are unsurprising.
The other key point to remember is that Pitt and West Virginia are widely considered the two top teams in the league. West Virginia won its game and Pitt was narrowly defeated with its quarterback starting his first career game. Both teams should be pretty good. While the conference might not produce an undefeated or one-loss team, Pitt and/or WVU can still have great seasons.