Sports

Cards moving on up in blurrier Big East

The past football Saturday was supposed to clear up the race for the Big East Conference title.

Instead, Louisville beat South Florida, the highest-ranked team in the conference at the time, league-leading Pittsburgh lost to Rutgers, and Connecticut gave Cincinnati its first conference loss of the season.

West Virginia is undefeated in the conference, and Syracuse is winless.

That puts the Cardinals square in the crowded middle of the pack.

U of L improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big East with its win over the Bulls (6-2, 1-2) on Saturday. South Florida's players know they're a long shot for the conference title now, as they get ready to play at Cincinnati on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals travel to play Syracuse next Saturday. "Next week is a huge game for us, as is every game in the Big East." Louisville Coach Steve Kragthorpe said after the USF game.

The Cardinals knocked off the Bulls, ranked 14th before the game, with a strong run defense and a career day from wide receiver Scott Long, who had been injured for most of the season.

Sunday's game

Tulsa No. 19 49, Central Florida 19: David Johnson threw for 264 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores, and the Golden Hurricane overpowered UCF Sunday night in their first game in the Top 25 in 17 years.

David Johnson zoomed in from 10 yards out early in the second quarter to give Tulsa (8-0, 5-0 Conference USA) a 21-19 lead, and he kept the nation's top-ranked offense in gear from there on out.

UCF held Tulsa to a season-low 436 yards, nearly 200 below their 625-yard average, but had only 187 yards of its own.

Red Raiders in rare air

Texas Tech has its highest ranking in The AP Top 25 in 32 years, and a chance to make another momentous leap coming up.

The Red Raiders moved up to No. 6 in the poll released Sunday as they get ready to host No. 1 Texas.

The Longhorns are a unanimous No. 1 for the second week in a row, receiving all 65 first-place votes, and the rest of the top five remained the same: No. 2 Alabama, followed by Penn State, Oklahoma and Florida.

The Red Raiders moved up two spots by overwhelming Kansas 63-21 on Saturday. Texas Tech hasn't been ranked this high since Nov. 15, 1976, when the Red Raiders were 8-0 heading into a big home game against No. 9 Houston. Texas Tech lost to Houston, 27-19, and finished that season 10-2 with a loss to Nebraska in the Bluebonnet Bowl.

Vandy looks for answers

The Vanderbilt Commodores are running out of opportunities in a season that started so strongly but now threatens to end just like every other one since 1982.

The Commodores had a handful of alumni currently playing in the NFL on the sideline Saturday, and what Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, Bears linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer and Texans defensive back Jimmy Williams saw was a 10-7 loss to Duke that felt like a handful of other ugly games that have produced 25 straight losing seasons.

Vanderbilt started 5-0, the school's best beginning since 1943, but now has lost three straight with a chance to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1982.

"I don't think we're paralyzed," Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson said. "We have 10 million psychologists telling us what's wrong. But at the end of the day, we need to play the game. ... No one's pulling out their hair, but this is what you have to do."

The Commodores came in with the 118th-ranked offense, and the Blue Devils made them look worse than that by coming up with three turnovers and a season-high four sacks.

"We have to put points on the board to help our defense to gain the win," Vandy tight end Brandon Barden said. "We didn't do that."

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