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2007 BIG EAST FOOTBALL PREVIEW

A few years back many in college football were referring to the Big East as the Big Least. My how things have changed. This conference provided us with some of the most thrilling games in college football in 2006 and figures to more of the same in 2007. The big three, Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia remain loaded and can play with any team from any conference in college football. But there may be one or two more teams from the Big East this year with something to say, namely South Florida and Cinci. Big East teams in general, have very soft schedules. The Big East schedules don't come close in toughness to most of the other major conferences. But don't let that fool you. While there will be some patsy's on their schedules, the top teams in the Big East are for real.

Louisville - Some may point out that the Cardinals lost more than half of their defense from a year ago, including two of their best players, but then this team was never known for defense. Offense is where it's at in Louisville, and this years team figures to keep piling on the points. Future NFL first round pick, QB Brian Brohm returns for his senior year with a group of receivers that should once again light up the scoreboards. Looking at Louisville schedule, it appears to be a cake walk right thru their first 9 games of the year. They should enter the final 3 game stretch at 9-0 before the true tests in their final three games against West Virginia, South Florida and Rutgers. With 2 of those three games coming at home, everything is in place for a run at an undefeated season for the Cards.

West Virginia - Another Big East Team that returns a solid group of players at key positions on both sides of the ball, including one of the better Quarterbacks in college football, Pat White as well as running back Steve Slaton. The Mountaineers problem has been their secondary and with teams like Louisville in your conference, being weak in the secondary certainly isn't a good idea. Revenge is big in College ball. West Virginia only had two blemishes on their record last year. South Florida and Louisville. They'll have to go down South to try and avenge the South Florida loss, which may prove difficult, but circle November 8th on your calendars as that's when the Louisville Cardinals come to town. WVA will win a minimum of 7 games and will once again go bowling. Whether they have anything to say about the bigger picture in college ball this year will be decided at South Florida, at Rutgers and against Louisville at home. Should be interesting.

Rutgers - Ah Rutgers.....what a magical season Rutgers had in 2006. Taking a look back, Rutgers had the one loss to Cinci in a classic let down situation where they simply didn't show up. The only other blemish on their record last season was a triple overtime loss to West Virginia to close out the regular season. 2006 was the best season in the history of Rutgers football and one that won't soon be forgotten. But with the success of last year comes the high expectations of 2007 and repeating last years success figures to be unlikely. True, Rutgers returns most of the key ingredients from a year ago including QB Mike Teel (36-3 as a starter in high school and college) and Running back Ray Rice along with several key defensive players (although they did lose two linebackers). But last year was a year where everything went their way. They caught all the breaks, which has to happen in a magical season like the one they had. Take a look at a couple of the games they won that were close. 21-16 over NC. 22-20 over South Florida. Who could forget being down 25-7 to Louisville in what was looking like a Cardinal rout before coming back and winning the game 28-25! Don't expect every break to go their way this year which probably means a few losses for Rutgers. It will be impossible to live up to the high expectations this year. But having said that, this is still a damn good football team that will no doubt go bowling once again this year.....and who knows, with a little luck............

South Florida - South Florida isn't going to sneak up on anyone this year. This is a solid team returning the bulk of their key starters from a year ago, a team that won 9 games. But a repeat performance isn't going to be easy. They have to play at Auburn the 2nd game of the season which figures to break any early season momentum unless they can pull off the upset. If that's not enough, two weeks later West Virginia comes to town. So we'll have a good idea before we even get out of September just where the Bulls of South Florida stand in 2007.

Syracuse - Syracuse is still rebuilding, but look for them to pull of an upset or two with their West Coast offense which can create havoc for any team with a suspect secondary.

Cinci - New coach, new QB.......Cinci's claim to fame last year was their upset of Rutgers. However, on that particular day, A high school team would have beaten Rutgers, who simply didn't show up. Cinci has some talent and could pull an upset, but figures to be mediocre.

Pitt - Coach Wannstedt needs to hurry up and win or his coaching days are numbered. Pitt started off the year 6-1 last season only to implode the rest of the way losing 5 straight to close out the year. They lost star QB Tyler Palko as well as several other key players, however they appear to recruit well and seem to have the talent. They should be able to compete, but still think it will be the same old Wannstedt coached team.

Connecticut - Maybe next year

To sum up, the Big East looks like it will be every bit as exciting this year as it was last year. Look for a few upsets from teams like Syracuse, Cinci and Pitt, but in the end it should come down to West Virginia and Louisville for the Big East crown and maybe more. Rutgers and South Florida will have something to say about that, but the feeling here is that they will come up a little short this year.

 

2007 BIG EAST FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Thursday, August 30
Buffalo at Rutgers
Murray State at Louisville
SE Missouri State at Cincinnati

Friday, August 31
Washington at Syracuse (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, September 1
Connecticut at Duke
Eastern Michigan at Pitt
Elon at South Florida
SE Missouri State at Cincinnati
Western Michigan at West Virginia

Thursday, September 6
Oregon State at Cincinnati (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Friday, September 7
Navy at Rutgers (7:00 p.m., ESPN)


Saturday, September 8
Grambling at Pitt
Maine at Connecticut
Middle Tennessee at Louisville
South Florida at Auburn
Syracuse at Iowa
West Virginia at Marshall

Thursday, September 13
West Virginia at Maryland (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, September 15
Cincinnati at Miami University
Illinois at Syracuse
Louisville at Kentucky
Norfolk State at Rutgers
Pitt at Michigan State
Temple at Connecticut

Saturday, September 22
Connecticut at Pitt
East Carolina at West Virginia
Marshall at Cincinnati
North Carolina at South Florida
Syracuse at Louisville

Saturday, September 29
Akron at Connecticut
Cincinnati at San Diego State
Louisville at NC State
Maryland at Rutgers
Pitt at Virginia
Syracuse at Miami University
West Virginia at South Florida

Saturday, October 6
Cincinnati at Rutgers
South Florida at Florida Atlantic
Utah at Louisville
West Virginia at Syracuse

Saturday, October 13
UCF at South Florida
Connecticut at Virginia
Louisville at Cincinnati
Navy at Pitt
Rutgers at Syracuse

Thursday, October 18
South Florida at Rutgers (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, October 20
Buffalo at Syracuse
Cincinnati at Pitt
Louisville at Connecticut
Mississippi State at West Virginia

Saturday, October 27
Pitt at Louisville
South Florida at Connecticut
West Virginia at Rutgers

Saturday, November 3
Cincinnati at South Florida
Rutgers at Connecticut
Syracuse at Pitt

Thursday, November 8
Louisville at West Virginia (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Friday, November 9
Rutgers at Army (8:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Saturday, November 10
Connecticut at Cincinnati
South Florida at Syracuse

Saturday, November 17
Louisville at South Florida
Pitt at Rutgers
Syracuse at Connecticut
West Virginia at Cincinnati

Saturday, November 24
Cincinnati at Syracuse
Connecticut at West Virginia
South Florida at Pitt

Saturday, December 1
Pitt at West Virginia

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