Today we preview the Big East conference, breaking
down team for team and giving you the odds on who we think will come out on top
in the conference. Be sure to see our picks because we are getting some great
Charlie Strong is going to have his best team yet since
taking over in Louisville and they are the favorites right now to win the EAST
at +250. They will be one of the most experienced squads in the conference with
15 returning starters. They possess the best QB in the league in Teddy
Bridgewater and also one of the best defenses in conf. Bridgewater is a duel
threat quarterback and in just his freshman season he passed for 2129 yards
with 65% completion percentage, he showed tremendous poise in the pocket and
accuracy as the year progressed. When there was nothing there, Bridgewater
broke out of the pocket and rushed for 4 Tds and 265 yards on just 89 attempts
(sacks take away his total rushing yards), clearly he prefers to pass the ball
first but he is dynamic enough to outside the pocket and make the defense miss
and pick up crucial first downs.
The defense gave up just barely 20 points per game, giving
up a total of just 328 yards per game, with a tremendous pass defense, that
gave up just 227 yards per game and racked up 33 sacks on the year. They will
return 8 starters from that defense so surely those numbers will improve.
The Cards just narrowly missed the conference championship
last year by finishing 2-4 down the stretch but by returning 15 total starters
and having 77% lettermen on the team they are the clear cut favorite in a very
weak division. They only have one conference road game that could cause them a
slight problem and that is at Pittsburgh, October 13th. They get
USF, Cincinnati, Temple and Uconn all at home.
With one of the weakest Big East conferences in years, the
Cardinals should dominate their foes and win the title out-right at the odds of
South Florida is next at +325 to win the EAST and they are
college football’s preview god, Phil Steeles pick to win the conference but we
digress. The Bulls went 1-6 in conference last year but were +26.4 in Big East
play and in 6 of their losses they blew second half leads in five of them in
very close games. Like Louisville, they will return 15 starters and have a duel
threat QB in BJ Daniels. Daniels rushed for 601 yards while passing for 2,585.
In our opinion Daniels is a horrible passer though and is not nearly efficient
enough getting the balls to his WR at just a 59% completion percentage last
The Bulls were up there with the conference leaders in
defense as well, racking up 39 sacks but did have their troubles, giving up
close to 400 yards per game and could not stop the run giving up 110 yards per
Yes the Bulls lost some very very tight games last year and
easily could have been in contention for the title but we believe DJ Baniels is
the down fall of this football team and Skip Holtz teams always seem to over
achieve. When you go 1-6 in conference and 5 of those loses come by blowing 2nd
half leads, that really drains your mentality and once this team blows their
first lead of the season, the doubts are going to start creeping into their
mind once again. We look for USF to finish 4th in the Big East.
Next are the Bearcats at +550 and we believe they pose the
most threat to Louisville for the conf title. The Bearcats were +12 in turnover
differential last year and that is ALWAYS a positive and a sign of good things
to come from a well coached team. Cincinnati will be losing a ton of players,
returning just 4 starters on offense and 7 on defense but they still have
brought in great skill players and Butch Jones' offenses always put up
staggering offensive numbers. Munchie Legaux will take over the QB position
from Zac Callaros and he is one of the most intriguing quarterbacks in the
conference. This kid is straight up explosive. In a very limited role last year
he rushed for 241 yards on 41 attempts with 2 Tds but his pass game was a bit
flawed only completing 47% of his passes for 5 Tds and 4 INTs.
The offense put up 33 points per game and ran all over
opposing defenses, putting up almost 200 yards rushing per game. The Bearcats
finished strong in Big East play last year with Legaux at the QB helm, winning
both of their final conference games, outscoring their opponents 65-40.
Butch Jones is one of the craftiest coaches when it comes to
offense and we believe this unit is going to put up some big time numbers in a
year where the Big East is absolutely wide open. When making you College Football picks, +550 is absolutely worth a
unit or two.
The Pitt Panthers also come in at +550 and they also have
just as good as chance to win this conference as the Bearcats do. This team is
loaded with talent with running back Ray Graham, who averaged 120 yards rushing
per game last year, accumulated 958 yards on just 164 rushes and 9 touchdowns.
They return veteran quarterback Tino Sunseri and return 14 starters. They have
one of the most dangerous combinations a football team can have in a great run
game, veteran QB and probably the best defense in the conference. The problem
is the Panthers are on their 6th Head Coach and QB Sunseri will
again be learning a new system. This will be the only problem that will stand
in Pitts way, but if they get good head coaching and live up to their
expectations on the offensive side of the ball, they too will be right in the
The bottom of the league
The teams we just previewed are the only ones we believe
have a legitimate shot at winning the title. The rest are a long ways away.
Uconn comes in at +2000 but they don't have a lot of talent compared to the
rest of the conference and all the players will still be learning second year
head coach Paul Pasualonis new schemes on offense and defenese. The Huskies
were -111 yards per game last year in conf (dead last) and we can probably
expect more of the same.
Syracuse comes in at +3000. The Orange over achieved big
time last year but they have still finished in the bottom of the Big East 2 of
the last three years. This is a program that is still building with a new HC,
and will be battling just to finish at .500 and get into a bowl game.
Temple comes in at +3500 and they might just have the
hardest adjustment of any team in college football. They were the best team in
the MAC probably the last three or so years but never won a single conference
title. This is a very inexperienced team who have just 8 total starters
returning as they make a huge leap up in competition going from the MAC to the
Big East. This is just simply too big of a task for such a young team, to make
a transition from the MAC conference to a BCS conference and actually contend.
Breaking things down we are going to throw 3 units on
Louisville at +250 and 2 units a piece on both Cincinatti and Pittsburgh at
+550. This conference is wide open and both of these +550 dogs have a great
shot to win the conference crown.