NCAA Football Preview – Big East
College Football Season is right around the corner. I can close my eyes and picture Lee Corso wearing a big mascot head and making his picks now. While we all sit and wait for that to happen, and to watch some football, I am going to bring you conference previews from around the NCAA.
Teams Added: Temple (MAC)
Teams Lost: West Virginia (Big 12)
2011-12 Record: 10-3 (5-2 Big East)
Returning Starters: 4 on offense, 7 on defense
Key Loss: RB Isaiah Pead, 2012 Big East Offensive Player of the Year
Player To Watch: Junior QB Munchie Legaux was hot and cold in his three starts last year. Can he be more consistent?
Of Note: Cincy has one of the easiest schedules in the conference, with two home games against I-AA opponents and conference road games against Temple and UConn.
Can’t-Miss Game: September 29 versus Virginia Tech at FedEx Field. If the Bearcats want to hang with the big boys, this would be a good place to start.
2011-12 Record: 5-7 (2-5 Big East)
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 8 on defense
Key Additions: WRs Shakim Phillips (transfer- BC), Bryce McNeal (transfer- Clemson), and Mike Smith (missed 2011-12 for academic reasons).
Key Losses: 4-year kicker Dave Teggart, OL Moe Petrus
Of note: 2011-12 QB Johnny McEntee returns, but it looks as though juco transfer Chandler Whitmer could very well be the starter. UConn has at least one other potential starter on the roster in Scott McCummings. Who starts, and how long will his leash be?
Can’t-Miss Game: September 15 @ Maryland, as the Huskies face former coach Randy Edsall
2011-12 Record: 7-6 (5-2 Big East)
Returning Starters: 6 each on offense and defense
Key Losses: K Chris Philpott, P Josh Bleser
Player To Watch: QB Teddy Bridgewater had a 64.5% completion rate, 14 passing TDs, and 4 rushing TDs last season as a true freshman.
Of note: Louisville doesn’t have any standout performers, but there is solid depth on both sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the go-to guy at both WR and RB. Barring a rash of injuries, they should have an excellent season.
Can’t-Miss Games: October 13th at Pitt and October 26th versus Cincinnati could both prove to be key in determining the conference champion.
2011-12 Record: 6-7 (4-3 Big East)
Returning Starters: 9 on offense, 5 on defense
Key Additions: Senior RB Ray Graham returns from an ACL injury last season. Highly-touted recruit Rushel Shell could see time at RB also.
Player To Watch: QB Tino Sunseri- if he struggles, will he be replaced and will it be by freshman Chad Voytik or sophomore Trey Anderson?
Of Note: Can new head coach Paul Chryst, formerly the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin, bring the Panthers back to relevance before they join the ACC in 2013-14?
Can’t-Miss Game: November 3 at Notre Dame
RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS
2011-12 Record: 9-4 (4-3 Big East)
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 8 on defense
Key Addition: R.J. Dill, a 6’7″, 310-lb. RT who transferred from Maryland.
Key Loss: Head Coach Greg Schiano (NFL), WR Mohamed Sanu
Of Note: Rutgers has their third offensive coordinator in three years, as well as a new defensive coordinator and head coach. How quickly will this team gel? There’s a QB battle to keep an eye on as well, as new head coach Kyle Flood has said he wants one starter- will it be Chas Dodd or Gary Nova?
Can’t-Miss Game: Back-to-back November games could go a long way in determining Rutgers’ final conference ranking, and the Scarlet Knights play Cincinnati on the 17th and Pitt on the 24th, both on the road.
SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS
2001-12 Record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East)
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 7 on defense
Key Additions: WR Chris Dunkley, a transfer from Florida, gives B.J. Daniels another target.
Key Loss: RB Darrell Scott
Of Note: Last season, despite a 4-0 start, South Florida demonstrated a confounding tendency to lose close games late, allowing last-minute game-winning drives in four separate games. To add insult to injury, three of those late losses were to Big East foes Cincinnati, Rutgers, and West Virginia. Can new defensive coordinator Chris Cosh shore up the late-game defense? On offense, can fourth-year starter B.J. Daniels improve his consistency?
Can’t-Miss Game: If South Florida can hang with ACC power Florida State on September 29th, they’ll be a team to keep an eye on.
2011-12 Record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East)
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 7 on defense
Key Addition: True freshman dual-threat QB Ashton Broyld could see time at some point.
Key Loss: All-Conference DE Chandler Jones
Of Note: The Orange have a tough schedule, with non-conference games against Missouri, Northwestern, and presumed powerhouse Southern Cal. However, they have an experienced senior QB in Ryan Nassib, and several upperclassmen on defense.
Can’t-Miss Game: September 8th, as USC makes a rare trip to the Big East. At home, I think Syracuse will at least make the game entertaining.
2011-12 Record: 9-4 (5-3 MAC)
Returning Starters: 2 on offense, 5 on defense
Key Loss: RB Bernard Pierce
Player to Watch: Dual-threat QB Chris Coyer, who had excellent numbers in four starts last season.
Of Note: Temple ranked third in the country last year in points allowed, behind BCS Championship opponents Alabama and LSU. How much will those numbers increase against stiffer competition?
Can’t-Miss Game: October 6 at South Florida could be a baptism by fire for the Owls as they face their first Big East opponent.
BIG EAST OVERVIEW
Conference Champion: Louisville
Possible Dark Horse: Cincinnati, with a very soft schedule
Bowl Teams: Louisville, Cincinnati, Pitt, South Florida
Coach On The Hot Seat: Doug Marrone, entering his fourth year with the Orange, is the Big East’s longest-tenured head coach. I don’t think he’s truly in danger of being fired this season, but his seat is probably the warmest in the conference.
Offensive POTY: RB Ray Graham, Pitt
Defensive POTY: S Jarrod Holley, Pitt