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BIG EAST Preview

BIG EAST PREVIEW

The Big East Conference was righteously maligned for most of the 2004 season as no team in the league distanced itself enough to be considered worthy of the conference’s automatic BCS Bowl spot. Pittsburgh eventually claimed the reward by virtue of a four-team tiebreaker, but was then blasted by Utah in the Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia was generally regarded as the league’s best team, but the Mountaineers were upset in their final two regular season games to fall out of the championship picture. Of the other five teams, Syracuse and Boston College also managed to split the Big East title at 4-2. Obviously, with the prior year’s departure of perennial powers Miami and Virginia Tech, there were telltale signs that this conference could be in for a tough season. For 2005, the league takes another hit as realignment continues with Boston College leaving for the ACC. On a good note, despite being the country’s smallest conference, it still placed a respectable five teams in bowl games. Of those, Connecticut and BC were the only teams to record wins.

Over the course of the last two years, realignment has left the Big East conference as barely recognizable. Most of the traditional powers are gone, with just Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia having any history in this league to boast of. That’s not to say that the league is at its lowest point though, as the addition of Louisville, combined with the loss of Temple, probably cemented that honor for 2004. The Cardinals, who scored nearly 50 PPG last season, are expected to be major factor immediately, as many publications, including the StatFox Edge, actually pick them as the favorites. Fellow newcomers South Florida and Cincinnati might also enjoy some success, but probably not nearly as much, nor as early, as Louisville. Among the other expected contenders this year are Pittsburgh, which begins its first season under Dave Wannstedt, and Syracuse, who also turns to a former pro coach, Greg Robinson. Whomever it turns out to be representing the finally stabilized Big East in the BCS, conference officials can rest easier, knowing the worst is probably behind them.

For more on the Big East in 2005, including full team previews and predictions, pick up your copy of the 2005 StatFox Edge Football Annual now!

Louisville

Play On: @Cincinnati 10/22

Both Louisville and Cincinnati join the Big East after departing C-USA. With the Cardinals probably being a high single digit road favorite, we’ll side with the fact that the favorite is 7-1 ATS in this series.

Play Against: Pittsburgh 11/3

This Thursday match-up could pose problems for Louisville. The physical style that Pittsburgh likes to employ could cause the Redbirds trouble. Louisville should be a touchdown or more favorite, in what could be a game for the Big East crown. Expect a tight ballgame with a winner being determined late.

Pittsburgh

Play On: @West Virginia 11/24

In the “Backyard Brawlâ€Â

slam

posted by slam

Aug. 2 2005 12:47pm

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