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BIG EAST CONFERENCE
2007 PREVIEW AND PREDICTIONS

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (with projected records)

 

BIG EAST

1. West Virginia (12-0)
2. Louisville (11-1)
3. Rutgers (10-2)
4. South Florida (8-4)
5. Pittsburgh (8-4)
6. Cincinnati (7-5)
7. Connecticut (5-7)
8. Syracuse (5-7)

 

 

MOST ASKED QUESTIONS

Is the Big East going to be as strong as it was in 2006?

Absolutely, maybe even more! The Big Three in this conference are still Louisville, Rutgers and WVU. But you can throw Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and South Florida in the ring since we see each beating one of these predicted top finishers, and they will. Sounds just like 2006 all over again for this competitive conference that will keep improving its national reputation.

Is there a national championship contender?

Not only is there a contender, but this NationalChamps.net writer – the owner - is picking WVU to run the table and earn a birth in the BCS title game against USC. If Brian Brohm is still healthy, most believe his final senior season at Louisville will be HUGE…ergo, the Redbirds also have a great shot at getting in the picture. That makes the Thursday night revenge game in Morgantown on November 10 one of the biggest ESPN weekday games of the season and a possible ‘semi-final’ for determining one of the title game’s contenders.

Could a player from the Big East win the Heisman?

The answer is again yes. Four of our top 10 preseason Heisman candidates hale from the Big East. Brian Brohm, Steve Slaton and Ray Rice are all legitimate in terms of what goes into winning a Heisman...ostensibly, their teams have to win and they have to put up strong statistics. Do not be surprised if Pat White makes a big-time run at this prestigious honor. At the collegiate level, as opposed to the NFL, a quality running QB means everything. White is the best running QB in college football, bar none, so he just has to make better use of his arm. We feel he will post his best passing numbers in his three years as a starter.

How good is the Big East in comparison to the other BCS conferences?

Remember, there are only eight teams in the Big East. Six of them are likely to go bowling at season's end. The problem with comparing the Big East to others stems from the fact that most of the Big East teams just do not have challenging non-conference schedules. Front offices cannot be blamed, for the league was left scrambling for opponents when Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech split for the ACC, and since scheduling happens many years in advance, you see why Big East teams were left with few (if any) quality foes to refill these vacancies. Each team plays five non-conference opponents, which equals 40 games. Out of these 40 games, only one opponent is ranked in the preseason Top 25 (South Florida at Auburn – Sept. 8). In short, if any of these teams played in either the SEC or Big Ten, for example, none would have a shot at the national title. So, yes, our favorite (WVU) is blessed with a very weak non-con schedule, per their usual. They just don't have that really tough game week-in and week-out as do other schools in more complete conferences. In defense of the Big East, they did go 5-0 in the postseason, although the only opponent remotely resembling a quality ranked team was newcomer Wake Forest.

 

BEST PLAYER AT EACH POSITION

QB Brian Brohm - Louisville
RB Steve Slaton - West Virginia
WR Harry Douglas - Louisville
TE Gary Barnidge - Louisville
OL Jeremy Zuttah - Rutgers
DL Eric Foster - Rutgers
LB Malik Jackson - Louisville
DB Trae Williams - South Florida
K Art Carmody - Louisville
P Pat McAfee - West Virginia

 

COACH ON THE HOT SEAT

Greg Robinson - Syracuse
In all honesty, no coach in the Big East - with the conference's great emergence onto the national scene in 2006 - is on the hot seat, per say. Stating that third year coach Greg Robinson may be that guy is a stretch, but is also feasible. Face it - though he left Texas after a year, he helped put the Longhorns on the national championship map as a defensive coordinator. He has a resume that even includes Super Bowl rings. And though this is his first head coaching assignment, if Robinson cannot get the Orange back to winning football games, who can? The fact is that the program had been stale for a long time before he got here. They have only four starters back on the defensive side of the ball. Another one or two win season, like it or not, will be cause for concern in terms of the program's future. Barring a complete meltdown, this job seems safe for now.

 

 

SURPRISE TEAM

South Florida
The Bulls are capable of beating any team in the Big East on any given day, just as they showed last year by traveling to Morgantown and knocking off WVU late in the season. USF enters the 2007 season as the NationalChamps.net No. 25 team, so this should not be a huge surprise. Dangerous dual-threat QB Matt Grothe is one of the conference's best-kept secrets, and their (25th ranked total) defense is quick and aggressive. This team will knock off one of the league’s ‘Big Three’ (Louisville, Rutgers, WVU) but will again have to guard against getting beat by teams they have no business losing to (in ’06, it was Kansas). This can be difficult in the recently restructured and resurgent Big East. The Bulls are better than an invite to the PapaJohns.com Bowl.

 

BIGGEST GAMES (NationalChamps.net Score Pick)

September 8
Navy at Rutgers - Friday (Rutgers favored by 8 points)
South Florida at Auburn (Auburn favored by 11 points)

September 15
West Virginia at Maryland - Thursday (West Virginia favored by 15 points)
Pittsburgh at Michigan State (Michigan State favored by 2 points)
Louisville at Kentucky (Louisville favored by 8 points)

September 29
West Virginia at South Florida - Friday (West Virginia favored by 7 points)
Maryland at Rutgers (Rutgers favored by 6 points)
Louisville at North Carolina State (Louisville favored by 13 points)
Pittsburgh at Virginia (Virginia favored by 3 points)

October 6
Utah at Louisville (Louisville favored by 13 points)
Cincinnati at Rutgers (Rutgers favored by 6 points)

October 13
Navy at Pittsburgh - Wednesday (Pittsburgh favored by 2 points)
Louisville at Cincinnati (Louisville favored by 11 points)

October 20
South Florida at Rutgers - Thursday (Rutgers favored by 2 points)

October 27
Pittsburgh at Louisville (Louisville favored by 9 points)
West Virginia at Rutgers (West Virginia favored by 4 points)

November 3
Cincinnati at South Florida (South Florida favored by 3 points)

November 10
Louisville at West Virginia - Thursday (West Virginia favored by 2 points)

November 17
Louisville at South Florida (Louisville favored by 4 points)
Pittsburgh at Rutgers (Rutgers favored by 6 points)

November 24
South Florida at Pittsburgh (South Florida favored by 1 point)

December 1
Rutgers at Louisville - Thursday (Louisville favored by 5 points)
Pittsburgh at West Virginia (West Virginia favored by 13 points)

 


TOP FIVE UNIT RANKINGS
  Running Back Defensive Line
  Wide Receiver Linebacker
  Offensive Line Defensive Back