Friday, August 17, 2007

College Football 2007 Preview: Big East

The Big East went through some growing pains losing some key teams to the ACC but has transitioned well and is now one of the top conferences once again.

Predicted Order of Finish

1. West Virginia
The Mountaineers return a solid offense with 8 starters that includes one of the top and most elusive QB's in the nation in Pat White. Also, RB Steve Slaton, who rushed for 1,744 yards and 16 touchdowns, one of the top WRs in the conference in Darius Reynaud, and 3 solid offensive linemen return. The offense will be one of the best in the country. The defense returns some key experience as well with 7 starters back. The secondary should be solid with plenty of experience there. If the LB and D-line can find some play makers to help fill in for some of the losses look for WVA to compete for a spot in that BCS National Title Game.

2. Louisville
L'Ville returns 21 starters and will be lead by the Heisman caliber arm of Brian Brohm, who passed for 3,049 yards and 16 touchdowns. They also return a top WR corps in Harry Douglas and Mario Urruita. The RB who filled in for Michael Bush, Kolby Smith, is back as well. They also have three starting linemen back but must replace the right side. The defense should be pretty good but wont have as much hype as the offense. The defensive line needs to find some more depth after losing Amobi Okye. They also need some more players to step up at LB and in the secondary after losing some key losses there as well.

3. Rutgers
The Scarlet Knights surprised everyone in the College Football world last season. This year they have some holes to fill but do return some solid players. QB Mike Teel is back and should be one of the best in conference and one of the best RBs returns in Ray Rice, who rushed for a school-record 1,794 yards. They need to find some WRs to step up but do return some good talent there. The defense should be good again with two key D-Linemen and reserves returning along with a solid LB in Brandon Renkart and three athletic DBs.

4. South Florida
The Bulls are a legitimate Big East Title contender. With 16 starters back and some great talent don't be surprised if they stun one of the Big 3. QB Mike Grothe is back along with 3 solid WRs in Amarri Jackson, Taurus Johnson, and Marcus Edwards. They didn't have a true TB last year, but freshman Mike Ford could turn some heads. The defense should be fine 8 starters returning.

5. Pittsburgh
Pitt loses some valuable players in QB Tyler Palko and LB H.B. Blades and they need to find some replacements quickly. The QB situation is still up in the air between Jr. Bill Stuhl and redshirt freshman Kevan Smith. The RB position should be solid with 3 very capable runners back but they need to find some depth at WR. The O-Line will be experienced with 4 starters back so that should help. But the defense needs to pick it up, where they have plenty of holes at LB and in the secondary.

6. Cincinnati
Cincy's offense returns plenty of experience but they still need to find a QB. The RB position is filled with experience and depth. They have plenty of work to do at WR with not much returning. The defense needs to be fixed up a bit with holes all over. The secondary will be the most experienced of all the defensive units.

7. Connecticut
They return 14 starters along with QB Tyler Lorenzen who has proved himself. RB Donald Brown is back too but UConn needs to find some WRs for Lorenzen to throw to. The defense won't be too bad with a pretty solid front along with some speedy DBs to go with it.

8. Syracuse
The Cuse has one of the toughest schedules in the country and they don't have much experience back. They return 10 starters but QB Andrew Robinson returns. They lost there top rusher and some key WRs too. But WR Tah Smith was granted a 6th year of eligibility still giving them some hope there. The D-Line will need to carry the defense with not much talent or experience behind them.

Offensive Player of the Year:
Brian Brohm, QB- Louisville

Defensive Player of the Year:
Eric Foster, DT- Rutgers

Freshman of the Year:
Mike Ford, RB- South Florida

Coach of the Year:
Rich Rodriguez- West Virginia

Games to Watch:
West Virginia at South Florida- Sept. 29

West Virginia at Rutgers- Oct. 27

Louisville at West Virginia- Nov. 8

Louisville at South Florida- Nov. 17

Rutgers at Louisville- Nov. 29

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