The last two years have been great for the Big East Conference. Two seasons ago Rutgers, WVU and
Despite that the Big East was not without skeptics. Many viewed the Big East’s success in their bowls only as the result of favorable Bowl Match-ups. There was also a strong belief that the Big East was merely a top heavy conference where teams like
For all those skeptics 2007 really highlighted the emerging depth of the Big East conference. The Big East continued to establish itself both inside and outside of the conference. Eventual third place Pac Ten finishing
A conference viewed by many as dominated by WVU and
Best Non-Conference Games:
The Big East has several excellent opportunities to showcase their talents out of conference this season.
South Florida vs.
Projected Order of Finish:
- Let me be clear there are a number of questions for this year’s West Virginia Football team. They lost 7 defensive starters from a defense that was the best seen at WVU in recent years. That defense really allowed WVU to be as good as they were. The secondary for their 3-3-5 defense will have to completely reinvent itself this season having lost all of their starters. For a conference that boasts some dangerous passing attacks that could be troubling for the Mountaineers. The Mountaineers have enough experience with the defensive line and linebackers that they should at least be able to get pressure on the QB giving the secondary a better opportunity to succeed. West Virginia
We also only need to look back to
In the end it is that offense that makes me stick with
So while I worry about the defense and you never know what can happen when a new coach steps in…the Mountaineers still have too much talent to ignore. I have the range of
- Cincinnati- The Bearcats have made the jump the last two seasons. They gained valuable experience two years ago as a very young squad playing 4 top ten teams on the road and eventually beating number 6
Rutgersat Nippert. They quickly learned new systems on offense and defense last season and put together their first 10 win season since the 1960s. This Bearcat squad is the best of the bunch.
Defensively the Biggest concerns for the Bearcats come from having to replace both starting safeties, particularly Haruki Nakurmura and both starting defensive ends. The strength of the Bearcats other positions should allow them to do so. Terrill Byrd and Adam Hoppel are as good a set of defensive tackles as there are in the Big East, maybe the country. Their ability will really allow the inexperienced ends a chance to rush the quarterback. There is a ton of optimism concerning the Bearcat defensive ends this season. In is transfer Alex Daniels from
On offense, everything is set for the Bearcats to be even better than they were last year. They are now in year two of Brian Kelly’s spread attack. Last year was a big switch for the Bearcat offense, going from Mark Dantonio’s three yards and a cloud of dust I-formation power attack, to Brian Kelly spread it out, play fast, run a bunch of plays and create mismatches attack. Perhaps the biggest strides this Bearcat team will make should be with the offensive line. Last season the offensive line was asked to play a completely different brand of football than they had been brought here to play. They were asked to slim down, to play fast, to learn different blocking schemes and get comfortable blocking in a more athletic, faster offense. This season the offensive line should be far ahead of where they were at this time last year. This should allow for whoever the UC QB is to have more time to throw the football and allow the younger, more athletic Bearcat running backs a chance to make more plays. The Bearcat’s wide receivers should be the strength of the unit, returning senior Dominick Goodman and a pair of exciting sophomores in Marcus Barnett and Marty Gilyard. The Bearcats also will see the return of the immensely talented Tight End Kazeem Ali. He should add yet another threat to an already dangerous offense. So the stage is set for the offense, but they will need a quarterback. It looks like 5th year senior Dustin Grutza is the guy, unless Ben Mauk is granted a 6th year of eligibility. Grutza looked good in limited action last season, but has often had a problem with making quick decisions. This did not hurt him against Marshall and
I have the Bearcats predicted to go anywhere from 9-4 to 12-0. The 12-0 would be a Big Time stretch because I cannot see them beating both
- South Florida- The Bulls are back and they have staying power. Jim Leavitt continues to bring talent into
South Floridaand perhaps has the most experienced, diverse offense in his tenor at the university. Matt Grothe is back for his junior season. He ran for over 800 yards last season and threw for over 2500. He will be aided by a very deep running back position that includes sophomore Mike Ford (4.7 yards per carry and 12 TDs last season) and senior Ben Williams (425 yards and 6 TDs). The South Floridaoffensive line is anchored by three senior starters. Needless to say there is experience across the board for the USF offense, which should be improved from last season.
Probably the biggest question for the Bulls is how do they replace the defensive backfield of Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams. Mike Jenkins was a first round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys and was first team All Big East last season. The corners will be aided by a fairly experienced front seven. All Big East performer George Selvie and leading tackler Tyrone McKenzie are back and should allow the front seven both stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback. If
T-4. Pittsburgh- Here is to
1. They have recruited amazingly well under Dave Wannstedt. In fact they have recruited better than anyone else in the Big East.
2. Last season they had victories over 10-3
3. They are bringing back the immensely talented LaSean McCoy at running back. McCoy gave Big East defenses fits. He is probably the top NFL prospect among Big East running backs having broken Tony Dorsett’s freshman record for TDs and points and he did all this with little production from the passing game.
4. The Panthers get Bill Stull back, the projected starter from last year, whom
All that being said it is hard for me to predict the meteoric rise of Pitt Panther football this season, because I have not seen enough evidence to warrant it. Pitt admitted looked legit against
@Michigan State- 17-14 LOSS
Uconn- 34-14 BIG TIME LOSS
@Virginia- 44-14 ABYSMAL LOSS
Navy- 48-45 Loss to a not very good Navy team
@Louisville- 24-17 Loss
@Rutgers- 20-16 Loss
USF 48-37 Loss
I guess my point is that Pitt had 2 wins last year against reasonably good competition (actually very very good competition), but in their other 7 games against reasonably good competition they lost every time. 2 for 9 against good teams does not show me much. On top of that, they were absolutely destroyed twice, and beat handily another time. I guess you can look at the
In the end Pitt is one of four teams I could see winning a conference title, but the one I have the least confidence in. I have their range of records anywhere from 5-7 to 10-2. My official prediction: 7-5 (3-4 Big East Tie for 4th place)
T-4. Rutgers- Last season was a bit of a disappointment for the Scarlet Knights. They were projected to compete for a Big East Championship (Kurt Herbstreet had them winning it) and yet that never materialized. An early loss to
The defense has continually been one of the best in the Big East. Schiano’s teams seem to always get pressure on the QB and make it hard on opposing running backs to gain positive yards. The secondary and defensive line figure to be strong, while the biggest question marks for the defense are at the linebacker position.
In truth I believe too much is going against
T-4. Uconn - Adding to my jumble of Big East teams at 3-4 in the conference are the Uconn Huskies. The Huskies were the Big East co-champions last season and return 19 starters from that team if you include the kicker and punter. Much of last season was marked by the Huskies playing good, smart, field position football and making the plays they needed to win games (they also had a few breaks against
My impression from watching the Huskies last season was that they were a solid, well coach team that the national media underestimated (there were people picking them to finish last in the conference). That being said, I believe the Huskies overachieved last year. When I watched them against
I firmly expect the Huskies to take a step back this season. My range for the Huskies is anywhere from 5-7 to 8-4. My official prediction: 7-5 (3-4 Big East, Tie for 4th place)
Because of this it comes down to the defense. Can Ron English get production from defense? I suspect you will see improvement from last year’s defense, but not drastic improvement.
With all of these 3-4 teams I put them in order by who I believe is most likely to finish highest. I believe Pitt has more upside potential than Rutgers, Uconn and
8. Syracuse- They are bad. Can they win one conference game again? I say yes. My range prediction 1-11 to 4-12. My prediction: 3-9 (1-6 Big East,
Get stoked everyone Big East football is coming. This promises to be an exciting year for the Big East as they try to continue to improve on their recent successes. WVU has National Title aspirations. I believe