The Syracuse Orangemen's turnaround has been simply a-Mason.
The Orangemen, coming off their worst season (6-4-1) since 1986, struggled early, losing the opener to Oklahoma and looking mediocre in several other early games.
But Syracuse (4-0 in the Big East) has run off six wins since the opening loss, thanks in large part to the development of senior quarterback Kevin Mason. He had been a career backup to Marvin Graves, who graduated after last season, and missed spring practice with a broken passing hand.
But Mason leads the Big East in passing efficiency and leads an offense that has been held under 28 points just once.
"Kevin Mason is playing great football for us," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "He's running our offense the way we only hoped he could. He's making good decisions, stretching the defense, and making things happen."
Mason missed just three times in 20 passes last week against Temple and threw for three touchdowns (45, 53 and 55 yards). He also rushed for a team-leading 66 yards.
Equally important was the fact Mason got all-Big East receiver Marvin Harrison into the offense. They connected nine times for 191 yards and two TDs. Harrison entered with just 19 catches in six games.
The Orangemen take this week off, resting and preparing to host Miami next week in the Big East's big showdown.
Rutgers who?: The Scarlet Knights are having an identity crisis. Just which Rutgers team is the real one _ the one that allowed 115 points during a stretch of three games or the one that has allowed only 48 in the other five games?
The Scarlet Knights forced their fourth turnover of the game in preserving a 7-7 tie Saturday at Boston College. They had just nine takeaways in the first seven games, ranking last in the Big East in turnover-differential at minus-5.
Doomed Temple?: Temple represents the Big East's other mystery.
The Owls proved again that they are better than most gave them credit for. "Temple has become a respectable team," Pasqualoni said after his Orangemen held off the Owls 49-42 Saturday. "They're no longer a pushover. They've built a very good offense."
Thanks to the development of sophomore quarterback Henry Burris, Temple is averaging 24.7 points and ranks second in the conference with 258.1 passing yards per game, just 3 yards fewer than Miami.