Big East Preview

Projected Records & Standings
1. CINCINNATI          8-4  (5-2)
2. RUTGERS 9-3 (5-2)
3. WEST VIRGINIA 8-4 (5-2)
4. PITTSBURGH 7-5 (4-3)
5. CONNECTICUT 6-6 (4-3)
6. SOUTH FLORIDA 5-7 (2-5)
7. LOUISVILLE 5-7 (2-5)
8. SYRACUSE 3-9 (1-6)
It’s only fitting that the worst of the BCS Conferences ends in a three-way tie. None of the trio of Cincinnati, Rutgers, or West Virginia are solid enough to win the conference outright, but each has the potential to.

Cincinnati is probably the safest bet, with senior Tony Pike returning at quarterback along with weapons like WR/PR Mardy Gilyard and RB Isaiah Pead. But there are huge question marks on defense, especially in the secondary.

Rutgers has the least experience among skill position players, but they have the easiest schedule and have potentially the best offensive and defensive lines in the conference.

West Virginia has arguably the most talent, including senior quarterback Jarrett Brown, who has patiently waited his turn to take over for Pat White. But the Mountaineers still seem to be in a transitional period after the coaching change a year ago. If Bill Stewart can regain the consistency the program had under Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia will be the team to beat in the Big East.

Question the Hype: CINCINNATI
Head coach Brian Kelly was the hot name all offseason. He was mentioned for most of the big openings on the coaching carousel and was recently been named one of the top five best head coaches by The Sporting News. But Cincinnati loses 10 starters off a defense that held the team together while the Bearcats offense suffered through injury after injury at the quarterback position. Isaiah Pead should be an upgrade in the running game, and Mardy Gilyard is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball, but Cincy will need to score more than the 25.9 points they averaged in 2008 in order to keep their spot atop the Big East.

Could Surprise: LOUISVILLE
I’ve been tooting the horn of Steve Kragthorpe for the past two years, urging Louisville fans to be patient – Kragthorpe had quite the house-cleaning project upon arriving in the wake of the Bobby Petrino mess. Well, it’s Year 3 now and so far, not-so-good. But I still have faith in Kragthorpe. He’s gotten rid of just about all the excess baggage and trimmed the roster down to guys who actually want to play football for him. With RB Victor Anderson and a decent receiving corps, I am keeping my eyes on Louisville as a team that could make a significant jump up the Big East standings if a couple breaks fall their way.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
RB-Noel Devine, West Virginia
WR-Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
OT-Anthony Davis, Rutgers

Ten to Watch:
RB-Victor Anderson, Louisville
RB-Antwon Bailey, Syracuse
WR-Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
WR-Doug Beaumont, Louisville
QB-Jarrett Brown, West Virginia
RB-Delone Carter, Syracuse
QB-Matt Grothe, South Florida
QB-Tony Pike, Cincinnati
OT-Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
WR-Mike Williams, Syracuse

Arrington Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DE-George Selvie, South Florida
DT-Arthur Jones, Syracuse
DT-Mick Williams, Pittsburgh

Ten to Watch:
FS-Nate Allen, South Florida
NT-Scooter Berry, West Virginia
LB-Ryan D’Imperio, Rutgers
LB-Adam Gunn, Pittsburgh
LB-Scott Lutrus, Connecticut
CB-Devin McCourty, Rutgers
DE-Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
LB-Reed Williams, West Virginia
LB-Kion Wilson, South Florida
LB-Lawrence Wilson, Connecticut

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