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2009 Big East College Football Preview
Odds - Predictions - Analysis
It wasn't long ago that the Big East Conference was the laughing stock of college football. Known for hoops, not football. After losing the likes of teams like Miami, it looked as though the Big East Conference would fall off the map as far as college football was concerned. But, it didn't work out that way. Instead, the Big East Conference became one of the most entertaining and competitive conferences in all of college football. a conference whose teams could compete with any other conference. Remember when West Virginia whipped Oklahoma a couple of years ago?
The Big East Conference had 6 of it's 8 teams win 8 games or more, a year ago. Now that's competitive. The current odds list three co-favorites, all at about 2.5/1 to win the Big East, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and South Florida. Of the three, we like Pitt to come out on top for reasons we'll discuss at the bottom of this page. As always, we'll list the odds to win the Big East next to each team from Top Rated offshore sportsbooks.
Cincinnati Bearcats -
Odds to win the
Big East 8/1 - Everything fell into place for the Bearcats last year.
They finished the year as the Big East Champions with a record of 11-3
overall and 6-1 in the conference. Coach Brian Kelly has really shaken
things up since his arrival in 2006. He will be switching Cincinnati from a
4-3 alignment to a 3-4 this year. This was probably a good year to make the
move, because he is losing all starters except for one on that side of the
ball. The QB-WR combination of Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard is arguably the
best in the entire nation. Pike has great physical assets at 6í 6Ē tall, and
he easily has the best arm in the Big East. September will be a huge month
for Cincinnati. They have games at Rutgers and Oregon State, and if they can
end the month an unscathed 4-0 it would help to set the tempo for the rest
of the season. I like the Cincinnati Bearcats to take down the Big East
title for the second consecutive season.
West Virginia Mountaineers - Odds to win the Big East 2.5/1 - Although the always elusive Pat White is now in the NFL, the Mountaineers are still set for a good season. Losses early in the season to East Carolina and Colorado all but ended their hopes of taking the Big East and the BCS bowl bid that came with it in 2008. They will be returning 7 starters on each side of the ball. Jarret Brown will finally be leading the offense after playing second fiddle to White for three years. He is a superior passer, and is 2-0 as a starter. Noel Devine is about as fast as they come and will improve on the 1,289 yards he racked up last year. The defense is solid and the Mountaineers are particularly strong at linebacker. West Virginia has a three game stretch early in the schedule against East Carolina, Auburn and Colorado. They will need to take 2 of 3. Two games on the road at the end of the year against Cincinnati and Rutgers will also be pivotal to their success.
Pittsburgh Panthers - Odds to win the Big East 2.5/1 - This team could be a major surprise. Their defense is the best in the conference, but the offense has to improve if they wish to compete for a BCS Bowl bid. The Panthers are deep at Quarterback with two proven starters in Bill Stull and Pat Bostick. The only problem with those two is that neither is particularly bad or good. Coach Dave Wannstedt needs for one of the two to be a playmaker. Nate Byham can help make things happen at TE, and Jonathan Baldwin and Oderick Turner are both capable WRs. Mick Williams really makes the defense shine at DT. He is the best player on that side of the ball. Adam Gunn is back for his sixth year at LB and will be a playmaker once again. Two early games on the road against Buffalo and North Carolina State will be important for this team. They will seek to end the year with a bang at home against Cincinnati. The Pittsburgh Panthers are my dark horse candidate to win the Big East.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Odds to win the Big East 5/1 - Things didnít start out well for Rutgers in 2008, but all is well that ends well, right? They managed to finish the year on a seven game winning streak after starting the year 1-5. Coach Greg Schiano has big hopes for this season and will be seeking his and the schoolís first Big East title. The Scarlet Knights are returning 8 starters on offense but will have to deal with the loss of QB Mike Teel and WR Kenny Britt. Both were great playmakers. How quickly they are able to find their offensive identity could hold the key to their Big East title hopes. On defense Rutgers has 6 starters back, including MLB Ryan DíImperio and DE George Johnson. The defense has the potential to be the best in the Big East. Rutgers has two important games at home against Cincinnati to start the year and in week four on the road against the Maryland Terrapins. If they can take down both of those games they could be on their way to their first Big East title.
South Florida Bulls - Odds to win the Big East 2.5/1 - Many fans of this team had a confused look on their face after the Bulls started 5-0 only to finish the year 3-5 in 2008. Multi faced threat QB Matt Grothe will lead the offense that is returning just 5 starters. In his career Grothe has thrown for over 8,000 yards and rushed for more than 2,000. Grothe will be aided by WRs Jessie Hester and A.J. Love. The former caught 54 passes last year and the latter had 31 receptions. The offensive line will see three new starters and must be reliable for this team to be successful. In 2008 the Bulls had a formidable defense. You can expect the same in 2009. DE George Selvie will lead the way. He is one of the best pass rushers not only in the Big East but in the entire NCAA. Most of the Bulls tough games are wedged in the middle of their schedule, but that doesnít mean they can get away with sleeping at the beginning and end of the year. A win against Florida State in week four would mean big things could be headed their way. The Bulls wonít be on the national scene like they were in 2007, but could make noise in the Big East.
Connecticut Huskies - Odds to win the Big East 8/1 - Anybody who tells you that UCONN wont be lacking the firepower they had in 2008 is lying. After racking up 2,083 yards last year RB Donald Brown is gone, and so is QB Tyler Lorenzen. Things arenít all bad though. Joe Moorhead will be starting his first year at offensive coordinator for the Huskies and will certainly shake things up for the hurry up offense. Kashif Moore and Brad Kanuch are both capable WRs. Zack Frazer and Cody Endres will be fighting for the starting QB job. They should be solid on the defensive side of the ball. UCONN has one of the best linebacker trios in the nation with Scott Ltrus, Greg Lloyd, and Lawrence Wilson. Lutrus who plays MLB is probably the best of the bunch. He was third in the Big East in tackles last year with 106. The Huskies play North Carolina at home in week 2. That will be a pivotal game for them. They also have Notre Dame to deal with later in the year. After having a huge year in 2007 and a good one in 2008, donít expect to hear much from the Huskies in 2009
Louisville Cardinals - Odds to win the Big East 15/1 - Coach Steve Kragthrope replaced six coaches after last yearís disastrous 5-7 overall and 1-6 Big East season. They ended the season with 5 consecutive losses, but will try to bring back some of the magic they saw in the 2006 season. That magic could start on offense. The Cardinals will be returning 9 starters, including RB Victor Anderson who racked up over 1,000 yards last year. North Carolina State transfer Justin Burke is the most likely to take over the QB duties. He saw limited action with the Wolf Pack in 2007. The defense was atrocious last year but should be markedly better this season. Experience can be the key with many things in life and that something the Cardinals defense finally has. Games at Kentucky and Utah early in the year will tell us all we need to know about the Cardinals. They wonít compete for the Big East title this year.
Syracuse Orange - Odds to win the Big East 50/1 - 2004 was the last time the Orange won the Big East title, and they had to share it that year. Iím sure they would settle for sharing it once again. They donít look like a .500 team just yet, but playing eight games at home will help to improve on their catastrophic 3-9 record from 2008. They will return 6 starters on offense and 7 starters on defense. RB Delone Carter and WR Mike Williams will bring some bang to their offense which has struggled in recent years. The defense is lackluster and new coach Doug Marrone will have to focus his rebuilding around them. The Orange will start the year with 3 consecutive games against Big 10 opponents. While they wonít be nearly as bad as last year, donít expect much more.
Certainly when you have a conference in which 6 of it's 8 teams had 8 wins or more the previous year, anything can and usually does happen. The Big East is such a competitive conference, with very little separating the top teams from the bottom. But our pick is going to be the Pitt Panthers for 2009. Safe to say the pressure is on Dave Wannstedt. You don't hire coaches to be mediocre, which is what Wannstedt has been with a record of 25-23 after 4 years at the helm. You also want to gove a coach about 4 years to put his signature on a team. Allow him time to recruit and teach his system. Well, that's all been done, and perhaps we saw the tip of the iceberg last year with Wannstedt having his first winning season at Pitt, going 9-4. They have the best defense in the Big East and return plenty of starters on both sides of the ball. So, really no room for excuses this year. Anything less than 9 wins this year could see Wannstedt in trouble. With that in mind, our pick to win the Big East in 2009 is the Pittsburgh Panthers!
Check out all of our 2009 College Football Conference Previews!