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2010 Big East Football Preview
Odds - Predictions - Analysis
The 2010 Big East Conference looks to be among the most competitive in all of College Football. It's really a wide open conference. The only two teams in the conference you may want to exclude are Louisville and Syracuse, both 4-8 a year ago and in the process of rebuilding. But you really can't discount either of them completely. Both figure to improve on last seasons 4 wins, which puts them at .500 or better and likely able to beat any other Big East team on any given day. Every other Big East team is capable of competing on the National level as this league has proved over and over again.
The oddsmakers agree. Next to each team below we have listed the current odds to win the Big East Football Conference. These odds are an average from our Top Rated Sportsbooks. You'll find UCONN, Pitt and West Virginia as the current co-favorites to win the conference while Rutgers, Cinci and South Florida are right behind them. Syracuse and Louisville are the longshots. If there's any betting value at those prices, it would be with the 5/1 shots, however we feel there will be far better wagering opportunities on individual Big East games, rather than futures. Anytime you have a wide open conference like this, you have fantastic opportunities to find live underdogs.
Here's a look at the Big East.
Pittsburgh Panthers - Current Odds to
win Big East - 3/1 - Last year was quite the disappointment for this
team. They were flying high at home in the final game of the regular season
against Cincinnati. The Big East Championship and the BCS bid that comes with it
looked to be all theirs as they led 31-10 with just over a minute to play.
Unfortunately for the Panthers, Cincinnati Bearcats QB/WR tandem of Tony Pike
and Mardy Gilyard took over the game to keep Cincinnati undefeated and win the
game 45-44. The good news for Pittsburgh is that Pike and Gilyard have both
ascended to the NFL.
The Panthers return RB Dion Lewis. The electrifying sophomore is one of the best runners in the NCAA and he powers the offense. The defense boasts one of the best lines in the Big East. For the third straight year they will contend for the Big East Championship.
Furthermore, Pitt and coach Dave Wannstedt have had the best recruiting classes in the Big East 4 of the last 5 years. The team has the talent. The pieces of the puzzle are in place. Now Wannstedt and company need to deliver. Last seasons 10-3 mark, which landed them a #17 BCS ranking and a win in their bowl game no doubt extended Wannstedts Pitt career by a few years, however, a return to mediocrity would change everything. The pressure is still on. Expect big things from Pitt this year.
West Virginia Mountaineers - Current Odds to win Big East - 3/1 - Things haven't been too good for this team since taking down the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma 48-28 back in 2007. They haven't been bad per se, but they haven't had a truly good season either. That could change this year thanks to RB Noel Devine. While Pitt's Dion Lewis is clearly the best back in the league, Devine is no slouch. Devine hasn't forgot what it feels like to play in a BCS game. He was a freshman when they downed Oklahoma. If he plays at the top of his game then WV will be a contender.
The Mountaineers return 16 starters and they have the best defense in the Big East. Sophomore QB Geno Smith takes the helm from Jarrett Brown. Smith is a bit inexperienced, but he has showed talent when given the chance. Look out for the Mountaineers thanks to their gritty defense and strong running game.
The bottom line here is that West Virginia returns just about all of it's key players from a 9 win team. You can't count them out and you know they'll be in every game.
Cincinnati Bearcats - Current Odds to win Big East - 5/1 - If West Virginia and Pittsburgh are teams with strong defense and great running games then Cincinnati is the exact opposite. The Bearcats have a high flying pass happy offense and a defense that is flimsy in comparison to Pitt or WV. Cincinnati replaces head coach Brian Kelly with Butch Jones from Central Michigan. He runs a very similar offense to Kelly's. The Bearcats have a strong QB in Zach Collaros. He has a gun for an arm and he can scramble with the best of them. He proved that in 2009 when he took a QB Draw 75 yards for a TD against USF. Armon Binns is rated among the top 15 WRs in the nation. Collaros also has a weapon in USC transfer WR Vidal Hazelton. He is tall and has great hands. RB Isaiah Pead is more than capable of mixing things up when needed. He averaged 6.7 YPC in 2009.
Defense will be the biggest question for the Bearcats. They can go punch for punch with any offense in the Big East, but the same isn't true defensively. If the defense can get stops when the offense goes cold then the Bearcats will have another bang up year. Don't count them out. Cincinnati is more than capable of winning the Big East for the third consecutive year.
South Florida Bulls - Current Odds to win Big East - 5/1 - Jim Leavitt has been replaced by Skip Holtz. The son of a football legend, Holtz steps into a great situation. QB BJ Daniels is a pass and run threat. With a year of experience under his belt he could be the best QB in the Big East. Holtz knows how to get the most out of his talent and with 10 starters returning on the offense he should have them putting up points.
Skip Holtz has been successful wherever he has coached, proving he learned a thing or two from his old man. He did a fine job at East Carolina and now walks into a situation at South Florida that is extremely favorable. We have liked Skip since his UCONN days and feel that he will without a doubt be coaching one of the traditional college football powers in the years to come. He'll get to that point by getting the job done at South Florida. He may not win a Big East title this year, but you can bank on that happening within the next few years. This year, South Florida will be yet another Big East team capable of knocking off anyone on any given day. Look to back then when they are the underdog.
Connecticut Huskies - Current Odds to win Big East - 3/1 - Wow. Circle September 4th on the ol calendar UCONN fans. That's when your Huskies open up their season in Ann Arbor against the storied Michigan Wolverines! Talk about a big game! This aint basketball folks. Little old UCONN football getting a crack at Michigan is huge. Especially when it's a Michigan team off a 5 win season. A very dangerous game for the Wolverines. UCONN knocked off Notre Dame last year. Michigan would be another nice notch on the win belt.
Coaching, coaching, coaching. Randy Edsall is a damn good football coach. Unless UCONN locks him up with a huge contract, we would be shocked if he doesn't end up coaching one of the big boys. The guy has put a competitive team on the field each and every year he has been at the helm in Connecticut. More importantly, he has accomplished this, in some years, with marginal talent. His teams are consistent. They get the job done and stay competitive in every game by playing sound, fundemental football. They don't turn the ball over and make the most of their opportunities. Each year you'll find the Huskies in the plus column in turnover differential.
It's actually scary to think what Edsall could do with a team that boasted some of the best talent in the country. He doesn't have that at UCONN, but he does have what many speculate to be one of his best teams ever. If that's the case, UCONN will compete for the Big East Crown this year.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights - Current Odds to win Big East - 5/1 - This team will try and come out of the gate strong after getting a 47-15 thrashing at the hands of the Cincinnati Bearcats to start 2009. It shouldn't be too hard because they will face Norfolk State. We haven't heard of them either. Things will get tough in week 4 when they host North Carolina. They will have a tough time putting up points in that game. They must travel four times in Big East play including trips to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
We mentioned coaching in our UCONN write up. Well, same applies here at Rutgers with Greg Schiano. Like Edsall, Schiano puts a competitive team on the field year after year. He has done a fantastic job with Rutgers football although that Big East Title has been elusive. He returns a little more than half of his starters from a year ago, a team that won 9 games and finished with a turnover differential of +20.
Schiano looks to go to his 6th straight Bowl game and wouldn't mind a Big East Title along the way. While not likely, certainly not out of the question. Rutgers will be yet another Big East team worthy of a close look any time they are an underdog in 2010.
Louisville Cardinals - Current Odds to win Big East - 8/1 - Now that Kragthorpe is gone and Charlie Strong is in command the Cardinals will be headed in the right direction. Unfortunately for fans they will go through some growing pains. New OC Mike Sanford served under Urban Meyer at Utah so expect them to score some points this year. Let's hope some anyway. The Cards managed to average just 18 points per game after years of routinely putting 40+ points per game on the board. Last year their highest scoring game was when they hung 30 points on powerhouse Indiana State!!
Louisville has their work cut out from them. Improving on their 4 win mark a year ago is likely, but not by much.
Syracuse Orange - Current Odds to win Big East - 15/1- The bottom feeders of the Big East managed four wins last year and appear to be headed in the right direction. The defense returns 10 players. Making it to bowl play would be an ambitious goal, but it's not impossible. What's encouraging for the Orange is that they were able to play some competitive football last year. They knocked off Rutgers. The beat Northwestern and took Minnesota to overtime and neither team was a slouch. They also weren't embarrassed against Penn State, losing 28-7 to the Lions, an 11-2 team that went on to win the Orange Bowl.
Those are the types of performances you look for when handicapping a "team on the rise". A sharp handicapper will pick up on these small, subtle signs that a team is on the move and will capitalize long before the rest of the betting public. There's plenty to be excited about if you're a Syracuse fan, or are a handicapper looking for a spot to step in. The writing is already on the wall. While they won't be winning any titles this year, one thing is almost certain. They will upset one or two of the recent Big East powers and will continue their gradual climb out of the Big East basement.
No titles this year, but look for good spots to back Syracuse. It will payoff.
To sum up the 2010 Big East Conference, it looks near impossible to zero in on a likely Conference Champ at this point as the conference really is wide open and competitive as can be. While that's not exactly what you want to hear if you're looking for a good futures bet, it is what you want to hear if you're a handicapper looking to capitalize on individual games as their figures to be plenty of surprises which makes for some nice spots to step in and back underdogs.
Other Conference Previews by Bettorsworld