Cincinnati vs. Rutgers Big East Football Picks and Anaylsis
Big East football isnt quite SEC football, but dont discount the conference. The Big East is very deep this year with 4-5 teams having a chance to take the cake. The early favorite is likely to be the winner of the Rutgers SCarlet Knights versus the Cincinnati Bearcats Game on LAbor Day. Cincinnati took last years Game at home in a close Game that was dominated by defense. The final Scorewas 13-10. We can almost undoubtedly expect a higher scoring event in this Game.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are coming off one of their best seasons of all time. They finished last year with a record of 11-3 and they also had their first BCS Bowl appearaNCe (Orange Bowl). Most of the offensive unit that put up 25.9 PPG last year is intact. However, the defense is bringing back just a single starter. Coach Brian Kelly is using this as an opportunity to change from the 4-3 scheme to the 3-4 scheme. This isnt as bad as it sounds because many of the new starters got plenty of playing time in previous years, but it certainly isnt a good thing.
The Bearcats offense will rely on QB Tony Pike and WR Mardy Gilyard. They are arguably the best QB-WR combination in the entire NCAA. Gilyard is also a threat on special teams. Pike is very solid overall and probably the best QB in the Big East. He needs to improve on reading secondaries and throwing less INTs. He ran into a speedy secondary in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech and didnt know what hit him. The RBs in Cincinnati are tough. Isaiah Pead should be better in his second year as a Bearcat. He went to the same High SChool as Heisman winner Archie Griffin and broke all of his rushing records. John Goebel will remain the starter for now, but Pead is one to keep your eye on.
Rutgers will probably improve on their 8-5 record from last year. Their biggest question comes in their ability to replace QB Mike Teel and WR Kenny Britt. Both were explosive and valuable players for the SCarlet Knights. Domenic Natale is the likely starter at QB until true freshman Tom Savage is ready for the job. Natale is nothing special, but he can get the job done. If he struggles early on against Cincinnati I wouldnt be surprised to see Coach SChiano put Jabu Lovelace in. Lovelace is also a senior. The WRs arent the greatest at Rutgers.
The Rutgers SCarlet Knights are going to shine on defense. This defense is arguably the best in the Big East. Coach SChiano is handing the reins over to two co defensive coordinators so it will be interesting to see how some of the play calls change. Ryan DImperio looks ready for his best season yet at LB. He is a physical player who will cause problems for opposing teams. DE George Johnson also looks set for his best season yet. Devin McCOurty will be tough at CB. The three year starter had 5 INTs and forced a fumble last year.
I really like the Cincinnati Bearcats to win this Game at +5.5, but I have to give a disclaimer. Im a student at UC. I dont think the loss of starters on defense will hurt them too much, because many of the new starters had lots of playing time last year. Tony Pike has added 20 lbs to his lanky frame, and he will get better with each Game. He is still relatively inexperieNCed.
Im not sold on Rutgers being the best team in the Big East yet, but a win here would get me on board. I cant give up points against a very tough Cincinnati team. The O/U seems too high at 48. Last years Game only produced 23 points. While I think this year will be higher, I dont think it will go over 48. This Game will have big implications because it is a Conference matchup, so tune in on LAbor Day and enjoy the action!
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