Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Big East Football Preview

With the college football season just around the corner, OSS went to Peter Legrand, a Mizzou Journalism student and writer for Mizzou Sportswriting who has developed his own football simulation, for predictions and projections on the upcoming season.
Photo Courtesy of Jason Rostkowski
Projected Standings
1. West Virginia 6-1 (10-2)*
2. Pittsburgh 5-2 (8-4)*
3. USF 4-3 (8-4)*
4. Cincinnati 3-4 (7-5)*
5. Rutgers 3-4 (8-4)*
6. Connecticut 3-4 (8-4)*
7. Louisville 2-5 (5-7)
8. Syracuse 2-5 (6-6)*
* represents bowl eligibility

1. West Virginia: With new head coach Holgorsen, the offense should be one of the best in the nation - potentially making Geno Smith into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. 4 returning starters on defense is a major concern, but three of those players are 1st team all-conference players in my mind, with SS Terence Gavin making my 2nd team.
Best Case: 12-0 Worst Case: 6-6 Projection: 10-2

2. Pittsburgh: Another team with a new head coach, Pitt should also improve drastically on offense with Todd Graham's wide open spread installed. I question their ability to transition as quickly as West Virginia to their new system because they are a built around power running, which should cause some hiccups early in the season. The defense brings back 8 starters, making it a formidable presence.
Best Case: 10-2 Worst Case: 4-8 Projection: 8-4

3. USF: Coach's in their second seasons often experience breakout campaigns, and many see USF finally breaking through and winning the conference. New RB Darrell Scott is a huge addition to the offense, which should also be helped by QB BJ Daniels continued progression. The defense brings back 6 from a mediocre 2010 squad, but they should be steady enough to keep them in most games.
Best Case: 10-2 Worst Case: 4-8 Projection: 8-4

4. Cincinnati: After a disappointing 2010, the '08 and '09 Big East champs should be back to their winning ways in 2011. Stars like Zach Collaros, Isiah Pead, and DJ Woods return to the offense, and although the offensive line loses three regular starters, two of the replacements saw significant action last year. The defense is loaded with experience, returning 10 starters from last season and seventeen of their top eighteen tacklers from the 2010 campaign. I strongly believe they can contend for the title this year, and don't forget, it's Butch Jones second season here.
Best Case: 11-1 Worst Case: 4-8 Projection: 7-5

5. Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights struggled mightily last year, going 4-8 and missing the postseason for the first time since 2003. Look for them to return this year behind the strong arm of sophomore Chas Dodd, who is surrounded by a plethora of weapons. The defense is suspect, but Rutgers will be greatly helped by four Big East home games and new freshman running back Savon Huggins, who could have a Ray Rice type impact for Rutgers.
Best Case: 11-1 Worst Case: 3-9 Projection: 8-4

6. Connecticut: After their first ever Big East championship, the Huskies have great expectations for their 2011 campaign, even with a new head coach. I am not expecting a repeat performance from the Huskies, although reaching the 8 win total from last year is certainly attainable. Sixteen returning starters brings hope, as does four home games in conference play, but the loss of their quarterback and stud running back leads me to believe they will drop down in the conference standings.
Best Case: 9-3 Worst Case: 2-10 Projection: 8-4

7. Louisville: Charlie Strong finally helped right the sinking Louisville football ship, as they went from the strongest program in the Big East under Bobby Petrino to a punching bag with head coach Steve Kragthorpe. Although only 3 offensive starters return, 7 are back on D and they brought in vaunted dual-threat QB recruit Teddy Bridgewater to run the offense. They should start 5-3, but face a difficult schedule and getting back to a bowl will require some luck, but this is a program headed in the right direction.
Best Case: 8-4 Worst Case: 3-9 Projection: 5-7

8. Syracuse: The Orange had a great season under Doug Marrone last year, making the postseason for the first time since 2004. QB Ryan Nassib returns after a spectacular sophomore campaign, with senior RB Antwon Bailey looking to step up and continue Syracuse's success on the ground. The defense only returns 5 and loses their top two tacklers, which is a major concern. The schedule is unfavorable, even though they get 4 home games in Big East play, because their most winnable games are on the road. They can make it back to a bowl, but it will be hard to match the 8 wins of last year.
Best Case: 8-4 Worst Case: 3-9 Projection: 6-6

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