The Big East will be very competitive this season as 6 of the 8 teams have a chance of winning the conference. Only Syracuse and Louisville don’t really have a shot at the title. The problem with such a competitive league is that the teams will beat up on each other, making it possible that the conference champ might have 2 or 3 losses at the end of the season. Here is a look at each of the individual teams. College football odds to win the Big East conference title are from Bodog and listed in parentheses.
Pittsburgh (5/2) The Panthers return Heisman trophy contending running back Dion Lewis but have to break in new quarterback sophomore Tino Sunseri. Lewis rushed for almost 1800 yards last season, so the inexperience at quarterback might not matter. The defense is led by pass rushing specialist Greg Romeus and should be dominant. The schedule is very tough and the team will be tested early with games at Utah and Notre Dame and a home game against Miami-FL before conference play even starts. The conference schedule is back-loaded as they play the weaker teams first, but finish with a brutal 4 game stretch at UConn, at South Florida, home against conference co-favorite West Virginia, and at Cincinnati. If they can survive the schedule relatively unscathed a BCS bowl bid is likely.
West Virginia (5/2) The Mountaineers return virtually their entire team from a year ago with 18 starters returning. The notable exception is at quarterback where Geno Smith takes over from Jarrett Brown. The backfield is solid with the returning Noel Devine carrying the load. They will be solid on defense as well. The schedule is manageable but does contain tough road games at LSU, Connecticut, and Pittsburgh, along with home games against Maryland, South Florida, Cincinnati, and Rutgers. West Virginia’s more favorable schedule might be the difference between them playing in a BCS game rather than Pittsburgh. The Backyard Brawl the day after Thanksgiving takes on even more meaning this season than usual as it could very well be for the conference title.
Connecticut (3/1) The Huskies return 16 starters this season including halfback Jordan Todman and QB Zach Frazier. Scoring will not be a problem for the Huskies, and the defense is solid except for a questionable secondary. The secondary might keep the team from winning a conference title, but the schedule isn’t bad. It includes road games at Michigan, a pesky Temple team, Rutgers and South Florida, and home games against Vanderbilt, Pitt, West Virginia, and Cincinnati.
Rutgers (6/1) The Scarlet Knights are solid on defense but do have some questions on offense. They lost 3 starters on the O-Line but QB Tom Savage returns for his sophomore year. The defense was dominant last year leading the Big East in total defense and scoring defense. It is this defense that will lead the Knights to a sixth straight bowl bid under Coach Greg Shiano and a conference title is also possible if they get some breaks. The schedule isn’t bad with home games against North Carolina, UConn, Tulane and Army. They do have tough conference road games at Pitt, South Florida, Cincinnati, and West Virginia.
South Florida (6/1) Skip Holtz takes over at coach from Jim Leavitt who built this program into a team that can compete for conference titles. B.J. Daniels returns at quarterback behind an experienced offensive line. The Bulls will score plenty of points, but their question mark is on defense. They only return 4 starters on defense, and these questions will keep the Bulls from competing form the conference title but a bowl bid is likely. The schedule is very tough with road games at Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Miami-(FL) and home games against Rutgers, Pitt, and UConn.
Cincinnati (6/1) The Bearcats went to two straight BCS games under Coach Brian Kelly. Kelly left the program for Notre Dame and is replaced by Butch Jones who had success at Central Michigan. Quarterback Tony Pike and wide out Marty Gilyard left for the NFL as well. Zach Collaros takes over behind center and had some success last year taking over for the injured Pike in a few games last season. Like South Florida, the Bearcats are great on offense and suspect on defense. Cincy only returns 5 starters on defense from a unit that was among the worst in the country. The defense and a tough schedule will keep the Bearcats from winning a third straight conference title, but a bowl bid is likely. The schedule includes home games against Oklahoma, South Florida, Rutgers, and Pitt, and road games at Fresno St, North Carolina St, West Virginia, and UConn.
Louisville (9/1) The Cardinals are pretty young and look to improve an awful defense from last season. They brought in new coordinators, Charlie Strong and former UNLV coach Mike Sanford, to run the defense and offense, respectively. Sanford installed the spread offense and senior quarterback Adam Froman fits perfectly in the spread offense. The Cardinals are a couple of years from competing for the conference title but just home to improve from last season. A bowl bid is unlikely, and the schedule does them no favors either. It includes home games against Kentucky, Memphis, Cincinnati, Connecticut, South Florida, West Virginia, and road games against Oregon St, Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers.
Syracuse(18/1) The Orange fans might be asking when Jim Boeheim’s basketball team starts fall practice, as it could be a long season for the football team. The Orange were at the bottom of the conference last year, but did surprise a few bowl teams last year. The defense is pretty good will keep them in some games. The offense does return 8 starters, but was mediocre at best last year. I think Coach Doug Marrone will have some success in the future, but not this year. The schedule includes home games against Pitt, Louisville, UConn, and Boston College, and road games at Washington, South Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Rutgers.
If you are looking for ats help this college football season, look no further than Maddux’s college football picks against the spread. One of the few handicapping services out there that can actually beat the college football betting line.