by Badger of Predictem.com
Continuing with our previews for all the NCAA Conference Championships in college football, now lets look at the Big East
Without the NCAA-required amount of teams in the conference (12) in
order to host a conference title game, the winner of the Big East
just has to finish with the seasons best record. That fact alone
makes a look at the home/away schedules more meaningful when trying
to determine the teams capable of a run at the title.
Cincinnati ran the table with a perfect 7-0 record in conference last
season and earned the Big Easts automatic bid in the BCS Bowl
system, but a very disappointing 51-24 loss to Florida in the BCS
game gave the conference as a whole a black eye as far as national
respect. With several programs at limbo with their quarterback
position, this years crop of teams might be ready to bring back that
honor and respect to the Big East.
Pittsburgh Panthers : 2.5-to-1
West Virginia Mountaineers : 2.5-to-1
Connecticut Huskies : 2.5-to-1
Cincinnati Bearcats : 5-to-1
Rutgers Scarlet Knights : 5-to-1
South Florida Bulls : 5-to-1
Louisville Cardinals : 8-to-1
Syracuse Orange : 15-to-1
By looking at the odds above you can clearly see that the Big East
title is considered to be up for grabs in 2010, with six of the
leagues eight teams listed at less than 5-to-1 on the board.
Pittsburgh is considered by most to be the front-runner because they
have the conferences most dynamic offensive threat in running back
Dion Lewis. Lewis ran for 1,800 yards and 17 TDs are a freshman, but
without a proven quarterback to lessen the load (Bill Stull is gone)
can coach Dave Wannstedt keep defenses from stacking the box on
Lewis? With plenty of defense back from a unit last year that only
allowed two conference opponents to score more than 20 points on them
(Cinn., UConn.), the Panthers might be able to survive a brutal end
of the conference schedule (at UConn., at S. Fla., home vs. W.Va., at
Cinn.) to make a run at the Big East title.
West Virginia is a mirror image of their rivals at Pitt, stacked at
defense with a standout secondary led by Robert Sands and Sidney
Glover, but raw and limited at QB which will cause an uneven workload
for their feature running back Noel Devine and could eventually cause
their doom. The Mountaineers also have the conferences other top two
teams on the road at Connecticut in October, and at Pittsburgh in
Backyard Brawl at the end of November.
The time has never been better for coach Randy Edsall and the
Connecticut Huskies to make a run at the Big East Conference title.
The Huskies have made steady progress under Edsall, and they return
some quality on both side of the ball, especially on offense with QB
Zach Frazer and RB Jordan Todman. They also get the conference big
boys West Virginia, Pitt and Cincinnati all at home in Rentschler
Field this season, so as they say the stars are aligned for 2010 to
be the Huskies year.
The reigning conference champs in Cincinnati will be under new leadership with Central Michigans Butch Jones taking over for Brian
Kelly when he left for Notre Dame. But lets not forget that Kelly
did not leave the cupboard empty when he left. Quarterback Zach
Collaros threw for 1,400 yards and 10 TDs in essentially four games
last year filling in for Tony Pike, and with weapons like Isaiah Pead
and Armon Binns back the Bearcats offense shouldnt skip a beat.
Their schedule is also back heavy, with their two biggest challenges
(at UConn., home vs. Pitt.) coming after Thanksgiving.
Rutgers was one of the more puzzling teams in the Big East last year,
as they would look like contenders one week (31-0 over South Florida)
only to forget how to lace up their shoes the next week (31-10 loss
to Syracuse). With a solid returning backfield of QB Tom Savage and
RB Joe Martinek the Knights offense should improve enough to get back
to above .500 football in the league, but Im not so sure they have
enough horses to stay in contention to the end.
South Florida could be the surprise team in the Big East this season
for two reasons: the Bulls finally have a proven coach (Skip Holtz)
who wont let his team fade away come November; and they have the
most dynamic quarterback in the league in B.J. Daniels leading an
offense that returns nine other starters from last year. The huge
problem for Holtz, and what might keep the Bulls from realizing the
dream season, is a defense that was decimated by graduation. Mid-
October tests at West Virginia and at Cincinnati could be too much
for a young, inexperienced defense to handle so early.
Louisville also gets a new coach, Charlie Strong, who comes over from
Florida to take over the Cardinals program thats had all four wheels
up on blocks for years. Baby steps Louisville fans baby steps.
Hopes are higher in Syracuse this season because second-year coach
Doug Marrone has revamped the offense this season vowing to open it
up with more passing, but considering the Orange used a basketball
player for their QB last year (Greg Paulus) what exactly is that
saying? Running back Delone Carter rushed for over 1,000 yards and
had 11 TDs as one of the lone bright spots on the Orange last year,
but if he doesnt get the ball in a new spread offense its hard to
see Syracuse pulling off a shocker for the conference title run.
Badgers Picks to Win the Big East:
Short Favorite Cincinnati (5-to-1) Aside from Dion Lewis at Pitt,
the Bearcats boast the Big Easts most talented and explosive
offense. Pittsburghs defense may be a little better, and Connecticut
has a friendlier schedule, but Im not so sure either of them can
score enough to knock the defending champion Bearcats off the league
Middle of the Road South Florida (5-to-1) I know, same odds as my
short pick but what can you do? The Bulls were forced to play a bunch
of young players last year, and with that experience and a new coach
(Holtz) who I think will finally get all of the potential out of the
Bulls talented Florida-heavy roster, Im hoping the Bulls can hang in
the Big East race into November for a change.
Longshot No way. At 15-to-1 and 8-to-1, the Syracuses and
Louisvilles of the league are not enough value for even a snowballs
chance in hell wager.
Thanks for checking out my Big East predictions! Stay right here at Predictem this college football season to follow all my free NCAA football predictions in our college football section!