- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.VA. (AP) - Bad times have returned to the Big East.

After the first month of the 2010 season, there are no ranked teams, no marquee wins.

Big East schools are just 15-13 against non-conference opponents _ the worst record among the six BCS conferences _ and the league fell to 1-10 against upper-echelon foes after an 0-4 week.

The smallest of the BCS conferences is in its worst early-season slump in five years.

“The games haven’t gone our way and we’re obviously not happy about that,” Big East commissioner John Marinatto told The Associated Press.

Five of those losses to BCS opponents were by double digits. That lone win? West Virginia beat Maryland 31-17 two weeks ago.

But the Mountaineers’ 20-14 loss at LSU on Saturday more than just knocked them out of the Top 25. It also marked the first time since the 2009 preseason poll that no Big East teams were ranked, and the first time it’s happened in the regular season since Oct. 15, 1995.

“I will just say first of all, it’s early,” Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt said. “I would just ask everyone, let’s wait and see where things are two months from now, come December. It has been a slow start. There’s no question about that. Everybody’s got their reasons. But I think it’s early in the season and there’s a lot of football left to be played.”

At this rate, they’ll need every win they can get to fill the league’s allotment of six bowl games. And they may even have a representative qualify with a losing record, as the NCAA reconsiders its bowl eligibility rules.

Only half of the Big East’s eight teams have winning records, with West Virginia and Syracuse leading the way at 3-1. The Orange are off to their best start in seven seasons, but two of the wins were against FCS teams.

Pittsburgh is in its worst start since 2005 and Cincinnati, the two-time defending league champion, is off to its worst since 2006.

Some teams point to younger rosters. Some coaches point to tougher non-conference scheduling. And some are still waiting for consistent performances out of their go-to players.

Take Pittsburgh’s Dion Lewis as an example. He piled up 1,799 rushing yards last year, but has just 143 yards in three games this season. What’s more, the Panthers allowed five sacks and nine tackles for losses in a 31-3 blowout home defeat to Miami.

“We’re just not real efficient right now in some areas,” Wannstedt said. “Until we get a lot better in those particular areas, when we play teams like the Miamis, we’re going to have a tough time.”

But this goes beyond Pitt. There were massive holes, after all, created in Connecticut’s defensive line for Michigan star Denard Robinson in the Wolverines’ 30-10 win. Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros, who was brilliant as a part timer last season, has taken a beating, game in and game out. And Rutgers gave North Carolina, a program decimated by suspensions, its first win of the year: a 17-13 decision in Piscataway, N.J.

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