Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Ah, the Big East. Once upon a time, the conference was just a basketball conference until they decided to play football in 1991. It was good, until Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College bolted for the ACC. After rising to its peak in 2006, the conference is just another mediocre league. Cincinnati loses their coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame, and longtime South Florida coach Jim Leavitt was fired for detrimental conduct, while the conference struggles to find a name for itself. Good news is that conference is home to two of the best running backs in the nation in Pittsburgh's Dion Lewis, who is just a true sophomore, and West Virginia senior Noel Devine. However, will it finally give the Big East some respect? Only time will tell...

1. Pittsburgh Panthers (10-2, 7-0)
-Don't look now but Pittsburgh Panther football is back relevant thanks to Dave Wannstedt. An average NFL coach with the Bears and Dolphins, Wannstedt finally got Pitt back on track with nine-win season in each of the last two years. The Panthers are set at defensive line with seniors Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard, while whoever emerges from the quarterback position (Tino Sunseri or Pat Bostick) will have Dion Lewis and receiver Jonathan Baldwin to help out.

2. West Virginia Mountaineers (10-2 ,6-1)
-If there is one constant in the Big East, it's that the West Virginia Mountaineers will be tough and in the top half of the conference. This year, expect a 10-win season for West Virginia and look for Noel Devine to run roughshod over teams with the speed option.

3. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3, 5-2)
-Two BCS bowl games were not enough to keep coach Brian Taylor as he bolted for Notre Dame. Then former offensive coordinator Jeff Quinn (now at Buffalo) coached the team in the Sugar Bowl, and they got drummed by Florida in Tim Tebow's last collegiate game. In comes Butch Jones, who coached Central Michigan last year, to try to take over a team that lost quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard. Zach Collaros has shown that he can fill in for Pike, but the Bearcats will fall back to earth and the middle of the Big East.

4. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4, 4-3)
-Rutgers is a team that will schedule a weak non-conference slate only to be exposed in Big East play. This again is the case as the Scarlet Knights will play Norfolk State, FIU, Tulane, and Army in non-conference play. However, they are the only Big East team to have to travel to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia, while North Carolina also looms on the schedule. Yikes.

5. Connecticut Huskies (7-5, 3-4)
-Relatively new to the Big East in football, the Huskies have been a decent team with its moments. However, none were bigger than last year's win over Notre Dame in double overtime. This year, things could be very interesting as UConn is the only Big East team to have Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and West Virginia coming to them this year, and if they could upset one of them the Big East could have a logjam at the top.

6. South Florida Bulls (5-7, 2-5)
-When you lose two of your best players in program history along with your best coach, things cannot be good. Well ok, USF has only been a football program for 13 seasons and Jim Leavitt was the school's only coach, but another chapter in Bulls history begins with quarterback B.J. Daniels and new coach Skip Holtz. Holtz, the son of Lou Holtz, will field a competitive team, but they will fall just short of a bowl game. If there's any team that can make a splash though, it's USF and they always have a tough schedule, with Miami and Florida on there this year.

7. Syracuse (4-8, 1-6)
-Syracuse was a proud program up until 2005, when the school has hit rock bottom. The product on the field will be better though, as the Orange will finally escape the cellar of the Big East. However, a bowl game is still way too much to ask for.

8. Louisville Cardinals (3-9, 0-7)
-Since Bobby Petrino left Louisville, the Cardinals have been awful. Enter in Charlie Strong, who won two national championships at Florida as an assistant. The good news is that he has three good running backs, led by junior Victor Anderson, that can share the load and can give defenses some nightmares. The bad news is that Louisville has a terrible defense and will most certainly have to depend on a so-so passing game.

West Virginia

Pittsburgh- Fiesta
West Virginia- Champs Sports
Notre Dame- Meineke Car Care
Rutgers- Pinstripe
Cincinnati- PapaJohns.com
Connecticut- Beef 'O' Brady's

Dion Lewis (RB from Pittsburgh) and Noel Devine (RB from West Virginia)
-It is so hard to choose between the two that it could come to the Backyard Brawl between both schools to determine everything. Devine could join the 5000-yard mark for a career later this year, while Lewis will try to better his 1799-yard freshman performance. Contrasting styles, but great results.

1. West Virginia @ Pittsburgh (Nov. 26)
2. Pittsburgh @ Utah (Sept. 2)
3. West Virginia @ LSU (Sept. 25)
4. South Florida @ Florida (Sept. 11)
5. South Florida @ Miami (Nov. 27)

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