The Big East 2001, Game by Game
by Jim Alderson
TSL Extra, Issue #8

I often get e-mail this time of year asking me if I really think some wild upset that has shown up in other writings will actually take place. The answer is, no, I really don’t think Rutgers will beat Miami, and I was quite surprised in 98 when Temple actually beat Tech. I do spend many hours this time of year poring over the BE schedule and working out various scenarios. Following is how I think the upcoming year will actually play out. As always, these predictions are guaranteed to be correct unless they are not.

August 26

Syracuse-Georgia Tech: The Kickoff Classic. Frank Beamer wanted no part of this game, and Mikey T. coaxed Syracuse into the breach. It is hard to see, given their OOC, what in the world the Orange were thinking about in scheduling this game, because it seems a very difficult one for them to win, and a loss could prove fatal to bowl hopes for a team that figures to hover around the .500 mark. The Yellow Jackets are a veteran team with realistic hopes of finally ending Florida State ACC domination, while three years post-McNabb Paul Pasqualoni is still searching for a quarterback. The ‘other’ Tech wins by fourteen.

September 1

Connecticut-Virginia Tech: Welcome to the big time, Huskies. Nothing in their I-AA existence or their brief I-A life has prepared UConn for what will hit them when they venture onto that new Lane Stadium turf. It is also the perfect vehicle for Beamer and the Tech staff to get some reps in for Noel and the new O-line under quasi-game conditions. Kevin Jones will see a lot of playing time as Tech seeks to unearth a new marquee player. Zounds, this will be a rout.

West Virginia-Boston College: When Phil Elmassian sprung this defense on the Big East in 93, it was new. Now, most of the conference runs some variation of what is now known as Bud Foster’s defense. Tom O’Brien and the BC staff have spent a lot of time over the years studying it, and won’t be surprised. This is also O’Brien’s fifth year on Chestnut Hill, the year most coaches really start to make their mark; his Eagles will be pretty good, good enough to beat the Mountaineers by twenty.

East Tennessee State-Pitt[sburgh]: Walt Harris and the Panthers open the new stadium by ripping a dog. Do the Steelers get to open with an XFL team?

Navy-Temple: The Owls’ Big East farewell tour opens, naturally, not at Veterans Stadium but at decrepit Franklin Field. The irony will escape few. Navy stinks while Temple looks decent, leading to a predictable Owls win.

Rutgers-Buffalo: The Greg Schiano Era kicks off against the team that lost badly last year to UConn. It will get tougher for Greg, but he will have a week to enjoy being undefeated as the Knights roll.

Syracuse-Tennessee: Neyland Stadium on a short week. Yikes. Syracuse showing up at the bottom of published BE standings at 0-2 is going to send their message board faithful, not the most supportive of fans in the best of times, into a frenzy. Paul circles the wagons after the Vols win by ten.

Miami-Penn State: Larry Coker’s first game against the oldest of the old pros, Joe Paterno. Add in the dedication of the latest Beaver Stadium addition and an emotional lift from the triumphant return of Adam Taliferro from serious injury, and all the ingredients are in place for a monumental upset. The only problem is the Lions are no longer a very good team. Miami scores late to win 21-17.

September 8

Western Michigan-Virginia Tech: All OOC griping aside, this game is going to be very difficult. WMU’s Gary Darnell would have been the new Tech coach had Frank skipped off to Carolina, and I don’t imagine he is thrilled at still being stuck in the MAC. He will have the Broncos ready to play. This game has embarrassing upset written all over it, but the Tech ground game and solid defense, with a Special Teams score thrown in, eventually wears down Directional, and Tech escapes with a 24-20 victory.

Ohio-West Virginia: Rich Rodriguez coaches at Mountaineer Field for the first time. The problems exposed by BC don’t seem so bad when viewed against MAC opposition. WVU rolls by twenty-five.

South Florida-Pitt[sburgh]: People call Tech’s OOC bad? If Antonio Bryant is not in jail and still on the team, he should have a field day, and the Panthers might score seventy.

Temple-Toledo: This one might throw a wrench into the ‘Let’s Win A Bunch of Games to Show the BE We Still Belong’ Bobby Wallace strategy. The Blades are pretty good for a MAC team, and it will be a tough one for the Owls. Temple wins a close one.

Rutgers-Miami: Butch’s two coordinators from last year square off. Unfortunately for Schiano, Coker is still on the sideline with all the talent. The Canes roll by fifty.

Central Florida-Syracuse: The ‘easy’ game on the Orange’s OOC is a Knights team that is not all that bad. Teams making their first visit to the Carrier Dome generally do not have pleasant experiences, and if the ‘Cuse fans stop posting ‘Fire Pasqualousy’ messages long enough to actually show up and cheer for their team, the Dome will mess with CFU’s head enough for Syracuse to get their first win by fourteen.

Boston College-Stanford: O-Brien and the Eagles do wonders for the BE’s power rating as they travel to Palo Alto and pull a mild upset by downing the Cardinal.

September 15

West Virginia-Maryland: Rich Rodriguez squares off against Ralph Friedgen; the former ACC battle of the Offensive Coordinators becomes one of bosses. Friedgen, who should have gotten his own program years ago, won both times when he was at GT and Rich at Clemson, and nothing much changes. The Terps have better talent and should have won last year. This year they do in an offensive shootout, 35-31.

UAB-Pitt[sburgh]: Considering whom they opened with, this qualifies as a major OOC game for the Panthers. The Blazers are making big strides under Watson Brown, but they will have been demolished by Florida State the week before and in no shape to battle Pitt. Harris and the Panthers move to 3-0.

Connecticut-Temple: This will be an instant rivalry, albeit a short one. The Owls won’t take too kindly to lining up opposite their BE replacements, and will win by twenty-eight.

California-Rutgers: Schiano brings his Knights home for the first time against the Bears. This would be an opportune time for Greg to partially wipe away the memory of the woeful Terry Shea years and create a buzz around his program. He does, and the BE shows it owns the PAC 10 as Rutgers pulls the upset, 31-27.

East Carolina-Syracuse: Pasqualoni will still be in a world of trouble at 1-2 and the top of the BE left to play. If he loses this one, he is in some serious job trouble. As usually happens in June, the Pirates are talking big. This game, however, will be played in September, when reality sets in. The Orange, greatly aided by the Weirdness Factor of playing in the Dome, wins 23-21.

Washington-Miami: Grudge time for the Canes. Boy, did this game screw up the works last year, costing, among other things, a Tech berth in the Sugar Bowl had the Canes gone to the Orange. There will probably be a decent crowd for the Orange Bowl for this one, and, while Coker is once again up against a proven head-coaching winner, the Huskies don’t appear to have the talent to win there. Miami goes to 3-0 with a 28-23 win.

September 22

Virginia Tech-Rutgers: Frank Beamer owned no one like he did Terry Shea, and probably shed a tear at his firing. Schiano may very well recruit well enough to make this an interesting rivalry, but he hasn’t yet, and Tech has too many horses. The Hokies roll by thirty.

Temple-Bowling Green: Another tough OOC MAC game for the Owls, showing that if you often play tough MAC games you are not long for the Big East, unless, of course, you are Virginia Tech. The Falcons are tough at home, and knock off the Owls, as BE conference offices in Providence echo with the sighs of relief.

Syracuse-Auburn: Back to the fire for Pasqualoni and his Orangemen. Can the Dome work its magic a third time against good SEC opposition? It says here yes. Syracuse sweeps the home stand, beating Auburn 17-14 and causing their message board alumni to begin bragging about how good they are.

Kent State-West Virginia: There is never anything wrong with a program that a visit from Bottom Ten regular Kent cannot cure. If any WVU fans still irked at the BC and Maryland games bother to show up, they will see the ‘Neers even their record at 2-2 by pounding the Golden Flash.

Boston College-Navy: O’Brien has done fairly well with the ‘Go To Bowl Games by Scheduling Service Academies’ method. Navy is lousy and the Eagles will roll by forty.

September 29

Central Florida-Virginia Tech: Bludgeoning the Knights with the ground game last year worked quite well, thank you, and there is no reason to expect it won’t happen again. Tech has superior talent everywhere, and it shows in a 38-14 win.

Miami-Pitt[sburgh]: As we speak, Walt Harris is watching film and devising strategies for this game while Larry Coker is still learning his way around the big office. The Panthers should get a good crowd in the new stadium for what will be the most important game in the Harris regime. A win vaults Pitt solidly into the BE elite. It is quite tempting to pick the Panthers, but the Canes have dominated all BE teams except one. Miami pulls out a late win.

Connecticut-Rutgers: Rutgers generally does not have winning records at the end of September, but then the Knights generally do not have UConn and Buffalo on their schedule. Schiano becomes the talk of Jersey as RU goes to 3-2.

Army-Boston College: The Eagles are the BE’s best-kept secret at 4-0 after ripping Army.

October 6

Virginia Tech-West Virginia: This series has much to do with Don Nehlen currently spending time with his grandchildren. Tech has won six of the last seven against the ‘Neers, and if Rich Rodriguez is going to be in the hills for an extended period of time, he is going to have to beat Tech. Not this year, Rich.

Pitt[sburgh]-Notre Dame: The schedule has done Harris no favors, as the Panthers have to travel to South Bend a week after the tough Miami loss. Pitt has a long history under Harris of stinking up the joint the game after emotional losses. This will be no exception, as all those gaudy pre-season predictions go down the drain and the Panthers fall.

Temple-Boston College: Who would have guessed a couple of years ago that a BE match-up would feature the undefeated Eagles and 3-1 Owls? Conference officials hide under their desks in Providence until word comes that BC has pulled out a 41-38 win.

Troy State-Miami: Coker and the Canes take a break from living on the edge. Fans will be checking out South Beach by halftime as Miami wins by a bunch.

Syracuse-Rutgers: The last time the Orange came calling at Rutgers, the Knights pulled off the biggest win in the Terry Shea Era [admittedly, there were not a lot of wins to choose from]. Schiano will have them excited on the Banks for this one and thirty-five thousand show up. All of those freshmen will be in over their heads, however; Syracuse wins by twenty.

October 13

Boston College-Virginia Tech: Gameday would show up for this one were it not for the bigger names getting it on in Tallahassee. Tech and the Eagles give the BE a monster game between unbeaten and ranked teams. It is unfortunate it occurs the same week as Miami-FSU. George Welsh once said that no coach in the country had spent as much time studying the Tech defense as Tom O’Brien, although it might be debatable how much he has learned, as his personal losing streak to Beamer and Company is now six. The Eagles will be ready to play, but the upside to ABC scarfing up the Canes and Noles is this game more than likely goes to ESPN primetime, and Tech wins at home at night.

Miami-Florida State: A national biggie. If FSU gets by Georgia Tech at home in September, it will be a game of top 5 teams. Miami has the better team but no coach has been in more of these games than Bobby Bowden, and he lives for them. Coker’s inexperience finally catches up with him as Florida State wins 24-17.

West Virginia-Notre Dame: South Bend is no place for WVU to be the week after another loss to Virginia Tech. Nehlen doesn’t seem so bad as the ‘Neers drop to 2-4.

Syracuse-Pitt[sburgh]: The Orange are the one BE team Harris has never beaten. The Panthers will limp into this game after two tough and high profile losses, while Pasqualoni is basking in unaccustomed admiration following four straight wins. The promising Pitt season is slipping away and it is gut check time. The Panthers respond and pull out a 28-23 win.

Rutgers-Temple: The Owls are bragging about those twenty-five thousand season tickets sold. I bet half don’t show up for this clunker. The BE’s final Yawn Bowl goes to Temple by twenty, and Wallace and Gittes and Cosby will have plenty to say about the dastardly Big East afterwards.

October 20

Pitt[sburgh]-Boston College: The marquee game in a light BE week. The Panthers will have their season back on track while BC will have a long injury list courtesy of the Tech defense. They start whispering ‘Gator Bowl’ around the Steel City as Pitt pulls off a 35-31 win.

Temple-Syracuse: They will be starting to hold their collective breath for days at a time in Providence at the thought of the lame-duck Owls snatching one of the BE’s bowl berths. No matter what happens, if five other conference teams are bowl eligible Temple stays home, and Syracuse moves a step closer with a ten-point win in the Dome.

Navy-Rutgers: I bet the Knights would vote to add Navy to the BE. Schiano gets RU back on track employing the ‘When all else fails schedule a service academy’ method and the Knights blast the lousy Middies by thirty.

October 27

Syracuse-Virginia Tech: Frank Beamer broke his Carrier Dome hex last year; Paul Pasqualoni is still looking to break through in Lane Stadium, where his Orange have suffered woeful beatings. The ESPN cameras are back to display why Dome teams rarely win big. It won’t be 62-0, but Tech wins easily enough. The bright side for Pasqualoni is that when he comes back in 2003, if he comes back, there will be a visitor’s media room, so he won’t have to conduct his post game news conferences outside where the handful of Syracuse fans can get at him.

West Virginia-Miami: It is going to be a tough October for WVU. The Canes will have had eleven days to stew over the FSU loss and will take it out on the ‘Neers.

Pitt[sburgh]-Temple: With Miami and Tech coming up, it will be getting pretty close to last-stand time for the Owls. Temple will have added incentive, as they perceive Pitt’s abstention during the 'boot Temple' voting by Big East members as getting them bounced out of the league, while the Panthers will be looking ahead to what they see as a huge game the next week. It bites them, as Temple pulls off a huge and conference-embarrassing win 42-31.

Notre Dame-Boston College: I am high on BC this year, and the visit from the Irish shows why. It is always a big game for the Eagles, while for Notre Dame it falls this year between their tilts with Southern Cal and Tennessee. You can’t get sky high for them all, and the Irish don’t. BC lives to beat Notre Dame, and they will be living large on Chestnut Hill following the ten-point Boston College win.

November 3

Virginia Tech-Pitt[sburgh]: This game is serious trouble. Walt Harris is one coach who has our defense down cold. Disappointment over prior losses never seems to faze the Panthers a whit when it comes to the Tech game - they are always ready to play. Beating Pitt requires an offense that can win a shootout, and all quarterbacks who pulled this game out last year are gone. Tech goes down.

Rutgers-West Virginia: The grumbling in Morgantown abates a bit as WVU takes out the year’s frustrations against the Knights.

Temple-Miami: The Owls will be flying high as they head to South Florida. The Era of Good Feeling abruptly ends as the Canes, in a fifty-point thrashing, demonstrate why Temple is on its way out of the BE.

November 10

Virginia Tech-Temple: The last BE home game for the Owls. I doubt Frank Beamer will be issuing any glowing testimonials for Temple or Veterans Stadium and its miserable playing surface. What he will do is have his Hokies send them on their I-AA way with a thirty-point beating.

Miami-Boston College: Three times Butch Davis took Miami teams to BC and three times the Canes got away by the skin of their teeth. Coker is not as fortunate. The Eagles spring a huge upset, finally giving television networks something to show during UM-BC games other than the Flutie pass.

West Virginia-Syracuse: WVU’s recent record in the Carrier Dome is about as abysmal as ours. It gets worse as the Orangemen become bowl eligible with a close win.

Pitt[sburgh]-Rutgers: All of those freshmen playing for Schiano have worn down and the Panthers hit their stride. An easy Pitt win.

November 17

Virginia Tech-Virginia: By the time this game is played, the walls of Merryman should be covered with stupid algroh quotes. At this point in time, Tech is better, and all of the running of algroh’s mouth doesn’t change that fact. The Tech defense and ground game chews up and spits out the Hoos in a twenty-point Tech victory.

Temple-West Virginia: The Big East might have more eligible teams than bowls to place them, which means the Owls will be the first team on the outside looking in. A team that has been riding on emotion finally deflates in their last BE game, and the Mountaineers work off a season’s worth of frustration in a big win. No one from the conference will be there to wish the Owls a fond farewell.

Syracuse-Miami: It hasn’t been too long ago that Miami message boards crackled with posts demanding that Coker, seen as the weak link on the Canes staff, be fired. Those posts will be back, at least until the angry Canes get through beating the daylights out of Syracuse.

Boston College-Rutgers: Schiano has injected life into the Knights program. The future is still in the future, however, and he would do best by spending this Saturday recruiting, as the Eagles will win by three touchdowns.

November 24

Pitt[sburgh]-West Virginia: A very tough inaugural year for Rich Rodriguez finally ends as the Panthers pull ahead early and coast to a twenty-five point win that will have their fans gnashing their teeth over the Temple loss.

Boston College-Syracuse: The Orangemen will need this one for bowl eligibility while BC will already be there. That and the Dome should provide enough incentive for SU to break their two-game losing streak to the Eagles and win 21-17.

December 1

Miami-Virginia Tech: Lane Stadium in December against the Canes from South Florida. I like our chances. They may have the better overall talent, but Tech has the better coaches, fans and insulated underwear. The Hokies win another Big East Championship with a 24-20 win.

Final Big East Standings

Virginia Tech    6-1  10-1
Miami            5-2   8-3
Pitt[sburgh]     5-2   8-3
Boston College   4-3   8-3
Syracuse         4-3   7-5
West Virginia    2-5   4-7
Temple           2-5   5-6
Rutgers          0-7   4-7

The Bowls

The good guys head back to Bourbon Street and the Sugar Bowl. An 8-3 Notre Dame squad steals the Gator Bowl, causing the to snap up Miami. Pitt[sburgh] heads to the Music City as all of their NFL alumni buy a bunch of tickets, while the aloha, not wanting BC a second straight year, takes Syracuse, but BC’s large television market lands them somewhere. West Virginia and Rutgers go recruiting, and Temple goes bye-bye.


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