>Wednesday Lunch: Mini East Preview

Posted: March 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Hello everyone and welcome to this Wednesdays lunch. I have a great preview of the “Big” East coming up as well as the third entry in my top five list. Sorry for the week absence, but I realize that many of you have probably only just finished reading my last mammoth column. I apologize if I took anyone away from their friends and family because of the length and in-depthness of my last column. I was also having personal problems that prevented me from completing the column. If I were a professional athlete this would mean that I had been found with some drugs or a few women on the side. In my case it just means that my colleagues didn’t do theirs and I wanted to be lazy too. If I seem more interesting if I had lots of pot or woman on the side, then by all means, imagine those personal problems. In any case, I am here now; let’s get into the preview. (One quick note, even though the basketball side of the “Big” East has 16 teams and is, in fact, big, the football conference only has eight teams. Therefore, I will use quotation marks every time I mention college football’s smallest conference)

Cincinnati: 2009 record 12-1 (7-0 conference)

Best Case: Even though the defending champs lost their starting quarterback, top receiver and head coach, they shouldn’t drop off as much as everyone thinks. A non-conference schedule that eases them into their big date with Oklahoma couldn’t have set up any better and they should get a minimum of three wins out of that part of the schedule. That should allow the offense to break in a new quarterback and allow Jacob Ramsey and the running backs to step up with more experience. A defense that overachieved for most of last year should only get better, expect this to be a strong link for this team and a possibility of 10 wins and a repeat “Big” East title.

Worst Case: Breaking in a new quarterback and receivers would be hard enough with a coach familiar with the program, butt a new coach makes this even harder. This team could struggle against top-notch programs like Pitt, Oklahoma, and Rutgers (dam right I just put Rutgers in the same group as Pitt and Oklahoma, we’ll get there.) The running backs will probably continue to struggle, and if the defense played like it did against Pitt and Florida, this could be a long year. A bowl bid is likely no matter what, but seven wins isn’t out of the question on the wrong end of the stick.

 

Connecticut: 2009 record 8-5 (3-4 conference)

Best Case: 2, 3, 4, 4, and 2. Those were the margin of defeat in the Huskies loses last year, which only made the passing of cornerback Jasper Howard that much more difficult. All of those losses except for one were against teams that were ranked at the time of the game or by the end of the year. With two 1,000 rushers the Huskies were a force to be reckoned with on the ground and junior running back Jordan Todman should be considered a dark horse player of the year candidate. Zach Frazer is back for another season at quarterback so the offense should have no problem lighting up scoreboards on 2010. If the defense steps up from its uneven play from a year ago, the Huskies should ride a mediocre non-conference schedule to nine wins and a solid bowl berth.

Worst Case: A team that couldn’t win the close ones or stop anybody all year reverts to the same ways and loses its opener at Michigan Stadium. The team loses confidence and Todman has no room to operate on the ground. This team could easily lose six games and seven or eight at the most. No matter what, a lower tier bowl is probably the worst they will do, but you never know.

 

Louisville: 2009 record 4-8 (1-6 conference)

Best Case: Getting rid of Steve Kragthorpe solves the problems Louisville has been having the past few since Bobby Petrino left and they start to rise out of the doldrums. A few exciting freshmen signings along with bruising running back Victor Anderson create a buzz around the program that a favorable early schedule turns into eight wins and a bowl berth. This will probably be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Cardinals, but not all hope is lost.

Worst Case: Their four wins last year were by an average of less than 8 points per game, and if you take out the Indiana State game, that drops to less than four per game. Southern Miss, Arkansas State and Syracuse were the only wins over FBS teams and this team could be even worse. New Coach Charlie Strong has a huge rebuilding project at a school with not a whole lot of tradition. If Anderson struggles this team may only win three games against a schedule that turns brutal by the end.

 

Pittsburgh: 2009 record 10-3 (5-2 conference)

Best Case: Dion Lewis becomes the fourth straight sophomore to win the Heisman as Pitt knocks off Utah and Miami early to start an undefeated season that ends with a National Championship.

Worst Case: Lewis has a sophomore slump and the Panthers anemic passing game can’t step up enough. They lose big to Miami and get upset on the road by Utah and Notre Dame. This sets the tone for a difficult season that ends with eight wins and hated West Virginia winning the Big East.

 

Rutgers: 2009 record 9-4 (3-4 conference)

Best Case: Savage, Martinek and Sanu become household names as Rutgers offense regularly explodes for 50 plus points against a pillow soft schedule. If this team gets on a roll, they could take the Big East by storm and any amount of defense could turn the Scarlet Knights into a dark horse national title contender.

Worst Case: The team that was blown out by Syracuse shows up and after losing one or two in their creampuff schedule, their defense is eviscerated and they barely scrape into a bowl. Tom Savage has a sophomore slump and Mohamed Sanu can’t catch anything. This makes life harder for Joe Martinek and his production drops off as well. Expect a bowl no matter what, but a lower tier one could be in the Scarlet Knights dim future.

 

South Florida: 2009 record 8-5 (3-4 conference)

Best Case: A team that traditionally starts fast explodes out of the gate with a win over Florida in the second week of the season. They replace Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie at defensive end and the defense returns to its dominant form from a year ago. This year is different for new coach Skip Holtz as he keeps up the momentum from early in the season to win nine games and tie for the “Big” East crown. If dual threat quarterback BJ Daniels can pick up where he left off last season, he could be one of the most electric players in the nation and the leader of a very productive offense.

Worst Case: A team that starts fast doesn’t this year with a blowout loss to in state rival Florida and the collapse down the stretch continues as normal for the Bulls. A late season loss to Miami loses them major recruits in the state of Florida and the program suffers for years because of it. BJ Daniels has a sophomore slump and the defense gets no pressure on the quarterback. Four wins and home in the bowl season.

 

Syracuse: 2009 record 4-8 (1-6 conference)

Best Case: This will be a rebuilding year at Syracuse, so 2 or 3 wins and good recruits would be excellent. Sorry Orange fans, you have a basketball team in the Sweet 16 (and probably further), stop complaining.

Worst Case: Oy. This could be painful. They should be able to beat Maine at home, but beyond that, I don’t see an easily winnable game on the schedule. Though time to lose your best quarterback, running back and wide receiver in the same year. Although if your best quarterback was Greg Paulus, you had some work to do in the first place, so maybe it’s for the best.

 

West Virginia: 2009 record 9-4 (5-2 conference)

Best Case: I don’t think I can talk about this team rationally, so Noel Devine could win the Heisman and West Virginia could win the conference championship. If I say anymore, I could start hyperbolizing.

Worst Case: A new quarterback and normally below average (read, shitty) defense along with a trip to Death Valley (the stadium in LSU, not the stadium at Clemson or the desert in Southern California) kills the Mountaineers confidence and they finish with eight wins.

Now that I got past talking about West Virginia without exploding let’s move to number three on my top five list of most exciting players of my lifetime. If you missed the last two entries, Michael Vick (pre-dog fighting) checked in at number five and the Steve “I just fumbled again” Slaton and Pat White checked in as a tandem number 4. Numbers 3 isn’t as well known to many people, but trust me, he was awesome.

3. Trindon Holliday- Anyone who has enjoyed watching the Florida Gators ridiculous speed the past few years would have enjoyed burner Trindon Holliday even more. Holliday was used sparingly on offense as a receiver and running back, but the tiny speed demon was a terror returning kicks and he could take it to the house faster than any player I have ever seen.

That’s all the time I have for this week’s lunch, but join me next week for a Big 12 preview and the number 2 most exciting player of my lifetime. Also, there will be this.

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