Big East media like West Virginia

By Darrell Laurant  |   Wednesday, July 30, 2008  |  Comments( 1 )

College Football
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No surprise here.

The writers and broadcasters who cover Big East football have anointed West Virginia as the preseason favorite, giving the Mountaineers 22 of 24 first-place votes. The other two went to South Florida (picked second overall) and Pitt (third).

Rounding out the list were Rutgers (four), Cincinnati (five), Connecticut (six), Louisville (seven) and Syracuse (eight).

West Virginia returns most of a fearsome offensive line to protect Heisman candidate Pat White at quarterback and human rocket Noel Devine at tailback. The Mountaineers flash lethal speed at most of the skill positions.

The problem will be on defense, where Bill Stewart's team lost some key performers and is still waiting to see if leading 2007 tackler Reed Williams is over a shoulder injury.

Still, South Florida has beaten WVU two years in a row and has the personnel to do it again. Pitt will throw out perhaps the league's strongest defense (unless that belongs to USF), but the Panthers have to get an unsettled offensive line in sync to block for star tailback LeSean McCoy.

A mild surprise was the No. 4 ranking for Rutgers, which was picked to finish seventh by Street & Smith's. Yet 3,000-yard passer Mike Teel returns, along with his four favorite targets (WRs Kenny Britt, Tiquan Underwood, Tim Brown and TE Kevin Brock). A lot has been made of the fact that Ray Rice left school for the pros, but Greg Schiano has a trio of talented backs ready to take his place. There is also speed and ferocity on defense.

Connecticut and Cincinnati have quarterback question marks. Tyler Lorenzen wasn't exactly a liability last season, but the Huskies only averaged 7.0 yards a pass. The Bearcats should be OK with Dustin Grutza, but Ben Mauk is still trying to convince the NCAA that he should get one more year. That's the kind of situation which divides teams.

Louisville took a hit to graduation and the pros, and 2007 was a down year, anyway. Hunter Cantwell will be a more than credible replacement for Brian Brohm, but without Brohm's supporting cast ...

As for Syracuse, the clock will soon start ticking for the Greg Robinson death watch.
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