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2006 Big East Preview

High Octane Mountaineers Lead the Charge in ‘06

Gone are the days when the Miami Hurricanes ruled this conference. They, along with Virginia Tech and Boston College, are now situated in the ACC. Two explosive offenses now will go head-to-head for this conference’s BCS birth. West Virginia, a consensus preseason top five pick, and Louisville will be at the top throughout this year. As far as the other six teams go, well they don’t hold a candle. Teams like Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Connecticut are respective teams and will do their best to become bowl eligible, but they have no shot to win the Big East in 2006.

West Virginia’s coming out party was in last year’s Sugar Bowl when they steamrolled Georgia. It is safe to say no one will over look this team in ’06, but stopping Rich Rodriguez’s spread-option offense is easier said then done. Sophomores Pat White and Steve Slaton lead the offensive assault, both coming off phenomenal freshman years. White rushed for 952 yards and accounted for 15 total touchdowns. Slaton did not earn his first start until the sixth Game last year but still compiled 1,128 rushing yards and scored 19 times. Brandon Myles and Darius Reynaud will start at wide receiver, while three offensive lineman return from a group that was rated top five in the country last season.

Despite only five starters returning to the defense for West Virginia, mostly juniors and seniors will lead this unit. The Mountaineers’ 3-3-5 defense is always difficult to run against, but with just one returning starter to the secondary, the passing defense will have to prove it can hold its own.

Louisville has two exceptional offensive stars that will each get ample Heisman consideration. Quarterback Brian Brohm and running back Michael Bush were dominant last year and will be even a better duo in 2006. Brohm was extremely efficient completing 69 percent of his passes while only throwing five interceptions. Bush rushed for 2,380 yards and set a new school record with 23 touchdowns. His 6’4’’, 250 bruising frame does wonders to truck through defenders and find the end zone. Eight starters overall return to the offense, including two impressive young receivers in sophomore Mario Urrutia and junior Harry Douglas. The defense, too, returns almost the whole unit, nine in all. Secondary mates Brandon Sharp and William Gay lead a very good back Four, while all three starting linebackers are back as well.

Of the remaining six teams, no one stands out in any capacity. It would probably be an added boost to the Conference if more than three teams earned bowl births. Rutgers is mostly the third team up for the postseason, but the best player not talked about is Pittsburgh’s senior quarterback Tyler Palko. He has been wonderful during his years at Pitt so seeing himself carrying his team on his back to a six or seven win season should not be ruled out.


Thursday, August 31
Rhode Island at Connecticut (7:30 p.m.)

Saturday, September 2
Eastern Kentucky at Cincinnati (7:30 p.m.)
Virginia at Pittsburgh (ESPNU)
Rutgers at North Carolina (3:30 p.m., ABC)
McNeese State at USF
Syracuse at Wake Forest (ESPN 360)
Marshall at West Virginia

Sunday, September 3
Kentucky at Louisville (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Friday, September 8
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati (8:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Saturday, September 9
Louisville at Temple
Illinois at Rutgers (Noon, ESPN2)
Florida International at USF (7:00 p.m., ESPN 360)
Iowa at Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Eastern Washington at West Virginia

Thursday, September 14
Maryland at West Virginia (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, September 16
Cincinnati at Ohio State (Noon, ERT)
Wake Forest at Connecticut (Noon, ESPN 360)
Miami (FL) at Louisville (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Michigan State at Pittsburgh (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Ohio at Rutgers
Syracuse at Illinois (Noon, ESPNU)

Saturday, September 23
Cincinnati at Virginia Tech (1:30 p.m.)
Connecticut at Indiana
Louisville at Kansas State
Citadel at Pittsburgh
Howard at Rutgers
USF at Kansas
Miami (OH) at Syracuse
West Virginia at East Carolina

Friday, September 29
Rutgers at USF (8:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Saturday, September 30
Miami (OH) at Cincinnati (3:30 p.m.)
Navy at Connecticut
Toledo at Pittsburgh
Wyoming @ Syracuse

Friday, October 6
Louisville at MTSU – in Nashville, Tenn. (8:00 p.m., ESPN2)

Saturday, October 7
Akron at Cincinnati
Connecticut at USF
Pittsburgh at Syracuse
West Virginia at Mississippi State

Friday, October 13
Pittsburgh at UCF (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, October 14
Cincinnati at Louisville
Army at Connecticut
Rutgers at Navy (CSTV)
USF at North Carolina
Syracuse at West Virginia

Friday, October 20
West Virginia at Connecticut (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, October 21
Louisville at Syracuse
Rutgers at Pittsburgh

Sunday, October 22
USF at Cincinnati (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, October 28
Syracuse at Cincinnati (Noon, ERT)

Sunday, October 29
Connecticut at Rutgers (8:00 p.m., ESPN)

Thursday, November 2
West Virginia at Louisville (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, November 4
Pittsburgh at USF (Noon, ERT)

Thursday, November 9
Louisville @ Rutgers (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, November 11
Cincinnati at West Virginia
Pittsburgh at Connecticut
Syracuse at USF

Thursday, November 16
West Virginia at Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m., ESPN)

Saturday, November 18
Rutgers at Cincinnati
Connecticut at Syracuse
USF at Louisville

Saturday, November 25
Cincinnati at Connecticut
Louisville at Pittsburgh
Syracuse at Rutgers
USF at West Virginia

Saturday, December 2
Connecticut at Louisville (TBA, ESPN or ESPN2)
Rutgers at West Virginia (TBA, ESPN or ESPN2)