Sunday, August 26, 2007

2007 Preview: Big East

So, now we come to the end of my breakneck speed preview of the conferences. Sure, I have the ACC left but that's a homer post that's going to be saved during this week as we lead up to kickoff.

The Big East exists outside of New Brunswick. I need to remind everyone drinking the Kool-Aid that has been flowing through the rivers of New Jersey that Rutgers, yes, was greatly improved over previous years, but that it was a slight smoke-and-mirror trick created by the Big East scheduling gurus.

Louisville is very good, a sound offense with an innovative coach (Kragthorpe) who lucks into the best situation in college football. He has a similar understanding of how to run an offense as Petrino did, and it will be very interesting to see how he reacts to getting the best out of Brohm. The good news is that there really will only be two games that can trip up the Cardinals.

One of them is against a legitimate National Title contender in West Virginia. And when I say legitimate, I mean that if they go undefeated (read: beat Rutgers and Louisville) they will be in New Orleans come January. It'd be so much more interesting to watch WVU play an SEC type schedule this year instead of Syracuse-Pitt-Cincy-USF. I don't know if we will ever really know what Richy Rod is capable of because the Mountaineers just won't be tested.

Am I the only one who is not really believing the USF magic, either? The faith is built on the back of a second-year QB who is not afraid to admit his redneck status (see this article from the Orlando Sentinel to see what I'm talking about). Is he good? Yes. Do the Bulls benefit from the same early season cupcake walk as the rest of the Big East? Of course. USF will make it October 18th with two loss (to likely top five West Virginia and then Auburn). One upset and this team goes 9-3 and gets the Big East's third bid (because, even though I won't devote an entire post to the independents, ND will not be in a position at 6-6 or 7-5 to poach a better bowl from the BE, sending Rutgers to Canada again).

If you believe Sports Illustrated, this is the year of the Running Back. Well, then Ray Rice and Rutgers have a chance. But his stats will be inflated because Mike Teel is a mediocre at best QB and the ground game just got only one horse with Leonard gone. If the Knights lose only to WVU and Louisville, I'd expect to see Rice in New York as a finalist for the Stiff Arm Statue. Is there magic left in New Brunswick? Well, just some creative scoring. They will be ranked most of the year, but they need to actually be tested, just like the rest of the league. The game against Maryland on Septemer 29th, a mid-tier ACC team, will probably demonstrate where the team really belongs.

Greg Robinson at Syracuse is not on the hot seat. I think the only person who may be jobless at the end of the year will be Edsall at UConn. After a weak recruiting season for the Huskies and some predictions pegging them as a team that Duke will beat to finally end its winless streak all point to bad signs for the Storrs Faithful (if they exist).

West Virginia to go undefeated, play either a one-loss SEC champion or an undefeated Pac 10 or Big Ten champ. Louisville will be the last team out of the BCS and get a trip to the Gator Bowl. USF to not live up to expectations. Rutgers to finish 9-3.

Heisman time starts in the beginning of the week.

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