Big East Football: Power Ranking Teams in New-Look Conference
The 2012 Big East football conference has a new look and is an open competition now that powerhouse West Virginia has gone to the Big 12.
The West Virginia loss and the addition of Temple really does weaken the conference, but now there is parity among all eight teams in this new look 2012 Big East football conference.
Although there is parity, there are still teams that belong at the top because of key returning starters and veteran coaches while some teams are in rebuilding mode.
As a result, let's take a look at the power rankings for all eight teams in this new look 2012 Big East football conference.
No. 8: Temple Owls
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2011 Record: 9-4 (5-3 in Mid-American Conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Four returning starters. Lost Bernard Pierce (1,400 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns) to the 2012 NFL draft. Lost four out of its five starters on the offensive line. Lost three of its top receivers. The 2012 offense will be led by quarterback Chris Coyer, who did not start until late in the 2011 season and a running back committee led by Matt Brown.
2012 Defense Outlook: Five returning starters. Leading tacklers Stephen Johnson, Tahir Whitehead and Adrian Robinson are gone. As a result, Akheem Smith and Nate D. Smith will be the playmakers in the linebacker core and safety Nate Smith will anchor the secondary.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: The punter/kicker Brandon McManus returns his 45.8 per punt average and was 16 for 22 on field goal attempts including 50 for 50 on extra points.
Coach: Steve Addazio, second season. The offense brings a balance of power-run game and spread much like when he was with Florida. The defense will be aggressive and focus on stopping the run.
Schedule: The non-conference schedule for 2012 includes Villanova, Maryland, Penn State and Army. However, the move from the MAC to the Big East will be a difficult transition for the Owls in 2012.
Overall: The Temple Owls deserve the No. 8 spot in the 2012 Big East football power rankings because they are now playing in a tougher conference and lost key playmakers from 2011 on both sides of the ball.
No. 7: Connecticut Huskies
Uconn will only go as far as Lyle McCombs can take them
2011 Record: 5-7 (3-4 in Big East Conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Seven returning starters. UConn didn't lose a whole lot on offense. The Huskies have one of the best running backs in sophomore Lyle McCombs who had 1,100 yards rushing with seven touchdowns in his freshman 2011 season. Additionally, the Huskies will employ a three-headed quarterback trio of Chandler Whitmer, Mike Nebrich and Johnny McEntee.
2012 Defense Outlook: Nine returning starters. Uconn will have a great returning defense that includes star cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, solid trio of linebackers and good edge rushers.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: This is all about the return game for UConn as the Huskies will have return man specialist Nick Williams who had over 1,000 total return yards and averaged 25 yards a kick return in 2011.
Coach: Paul Pasqualoni, second season. Predicated on the run game: triple-option, wild-cat formation. Defense is all about pressure.
Schedule: The non-conference 2012 schedule for the Huskies is below-average against UMass, NC State, Maryland and Buffalo. However, in Big East conference play they play away at three of the tougher teams in the conference: Rutgers, South Florida and Louisville.
Overall: The Huskies have a strong running attack with McCombs and strong defense anchored by Wreh-Wilson but a patch-work offensive line and inconsistent quarterback play will doom the Huskies in 2012 and is why they are No. 7 on the Big East football power rankings.
No. 6: Syracuse Orange
Ryan Nassib will lead a new offense for Syracuse in 2012
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2011 Record: 5-7 (1-6 in Big East conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Six returning starters. The loss of Antwon Bailey hurts the running game but the passing game will be Syracuse's bread and butter in 2012. The Orange has one of the better quarterbacks in the Big East conference in Ryan Nassib and one of the best receiving tandems in the conference in Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales. The offensive line remains solid but the Orange will struggle to find balance with the running game in 2012.
2012 Defense Outlook: Six returning starters. Chandler Jones heading to the NFL hurts a lot but the Orange will have a solid linebacker core led by Marquis Spruill and strong safety play by Shamarko Thomas.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: The kicking game was awful for the Orange in 2011 and will be a committee approach again in 2012 with Ross Krautman and Ryan Lichtenstein. Return game will be solid again.
Coach: Doug Marrone, fourth season. The offense moves to a dual threat quarterback: designed run plays and roll-outs. Defense is attacking and aggressive.
Schedule: Syracuse has one of the toughest 2012 schedules in the Big East. Non-conference includes Northwestern, USC, at Minnesota and at Missouri in mid November. Four out of the last five games of the season are all on the road.
Overall: Syracuse will have a new look offense in 2012 with the quarterback position being more of a dual threat. The defense is in rebuilding mode but a tough nonconference schedule will help the Orange to some wins in the Big East conference as to why they hold the No. 6 spot on the Big East football power rankings.
No. 5: Cincinnati Bearcats
The Bearcats may have to hold back on celebrating in 2012
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2011 Record: 10-3 (5-2 in Big East Conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Returning four starters. Starting running back Isaiah Pead and quarterback Zach Collaros are gone. Munchie Legaux will be the starter in 2012 with a solid receiving core of Anthony McClung and Kenbrell Thompkins. The running game for the Bearcats will be a committee led by Jameel Poteat.
2012 Defense Outlook: Returning six starters. Losing Derek Wolfe to the 2012 NFL draft hurts a lot for the Bearcats but they still have some dominant defensive ends in Dan Giordano and Walter Stewart. The linebacking core and secondary will remain solid for the Bearcats in 2012.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: Ralph David Abernathy IV is the top kick return man in the Big East conference and had more than 1,000 yards on kick returns with an average of 26 yards per return and a touchdown last season.
Coach: Butch Jones, third season. The offense is predicated on the spread formation. The defense applies constant pressure and led the conference in sacks in 2011.
Schedule: The nonconference 2012 schedule has only one challenging game: Virginia Tech. Additionally, four Big East games at home also help the team out.
Overall: The offense for the Bearcats in 2012 will struggle but they will helped by a solid defense. Cincinnati is at the No. 5 spot in the Big East football power rankings because of the loss of so many crucial playmakers from the 2011 team.
No. 4: Pittsburgh Panthers
Paul Chryst is serious about getting Pitt back on track
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2011 Record: 6-7 (4-3 in Big East conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Returning eight starters. Going back to the pro-style offense will benefit Pitt's quarterback Tino Sunseri greatly. Sunseri will look to one of the top wide receivers in the conference in Devin Street. Meanwhile, Pitt will employ a multiple running back scheme with Ray Graham leading the way. The offensive line has to drastically improve and the move to a pro-style offense will help with more blockers on the line.
2012 Defense Outlook: Returning five starters. Although Pitt lost a lot on the defensive side of the ball, its biggest playmaker from the 2011 season is back in 2012 in Aaron Donald. A healthy Dan Mason will control the middle. The best position for this Pitt team is at the safety spot, where it is so deep so talented, led by Jarred Holley.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: Pitt has a pretty good punter in Matt Yoklic who was second in the Big East in 2011 averaging about 41 yards per punt. Additionally, Kevin Harper is the returning kicker who had a solid 2011 campaign.
Coach: Paul Chryst, first season. Pro-style offense in the power-I formation using multiple running backs to set up the play-action. The defense is all about pressure from the edge rushers.
Schedule: Pitt has two tough nonconference opponents on their 2012 schedule against Virginia Tech and at Notre Dame. Additionally, three out of their last four games are all on the road.
Overall: Pitt will form an identity in 2012 under new head coach Paul Chryst as a power-I, run-down-your-throats offense. The pro-style offense is back in Pittsburgh and Tino Sunseri will thrive. Pitt earns the No. 4 spot in the Big East football power rankings as it return to the normal pro-style offense.
No. 3: Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Khaseem Greene is back, healthy and ready for 2012
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2011 Record: 9-4 (4-3 in Big East conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Returning six starters. Losing Mohamed Sanu to the 2012 NFL draft hurts, but Rutgers will have a solid offensive line and running back committee with Jawan Jamison and Savon Huggins. The quarterback controversy is troublesome here with Chas Dodd and Gary Nova. The offense will be pro-style so most of the time the ball will be in the hands of the running backs.
2012 Defense Outlook: Returning eight starters. The saving grace for this Rutgers team in 2012 will be its defense led by linebacker Khaseem Greene. The defensive line is solid up front and Rutgers has one of the better cornerbacks in the conference in Logan Ryan.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: There will be position battles all across the board in special teams. The return unit will be solid with Mason Robinson and Jeremy Deering.
Coach: Kyle Flood, first season. The offense will be pro-style and the defense will be attacking and aggressive.
Schedule: The non-conference 2012 schedule for Rutgers will have one very tough game at Arkansas. In the last three games of the season Rutgers plays at Cincinnati, then at Pittsburgh, then home against Louisville which all should be competitive games that could determine Rutgers fate at the top of the Big East standings.
Overall: Rutgers is at No. 3 in the Big East football conference power rankings as they have an excellent defense that will keep them in every game but have inconsistent quarterback play, no major playmaker on offense and are replacing their legendary former coach Greg Schiano who is now with Tampa Bay in the NFL.
No. 2: South Florida Bulls
BJ Daniels has to be consistent for the Bulls in 2012
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2011 Record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East conference)
2012 Offense Outlook: Returning eight starters. BJ Daniels is now a seasoned veteran and has the key pieces around him to put together a consistent 2012 season. The Bulls have a solid offensive line, good running back in Demetris Murray and an even better receiver with Sterling Griffin.
2012 Defense Outlook: Returning eight starters. This Bulls defense is fantastic with a dominant defensive line led by Ryne Giddens. The linebacking core is terrific, anchored by DeDe Lattimore, and the secondary is not too shabby either with Jon Lejiste.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: Lindsey Lamar has been one of the better return men in the Big East conference in 2010 and 2011, recording 800 return yards in each season and two touchdowns in 2010.
Coach: Skip Holtz, third season. The offense will be under pro-style and the defense will be very aggressive.
Schedule: The nonconference 2012 schedule will be a difficult one for the Bulls with games against Florida State and Miami. However, four Big East conference home games bodes well for this team in 2012.
Overall: I know what you are saying. Why do the Bulls deserve the No. 2 power ranking when they always fail to meet expectations each year? I'll tell you why. They have one of the better quarterbacks in the Big East with BJ Daniels, good offensive playmakers that surround Daniels, a great defense and a veteran coach.
No. 1: Louisville Cardinals
Charlie Strong has high expectations and so should you
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2011 Record: 7-6 (5-2 in Big East conference)
2012 Offense Outlook:Returning seven starters. Teddy Bridgewater, only a sophomore, is the best quarterback in the Big East conference. He is surrounded by an excellent offensive line with solid playmakers like Dominique Brown at running back and Eli Rogers at wide receiver.
2012 Defense Outlook: Returning seven starters. This aggressive attacking defense is led by safety Hakeem Smith. The Cardinals have playmakers on the defensive line, linebacking core and in the secondary.
2012 Special Teams Outlook: Kicker Chris Philpott graduated and the Cardinals will have a lot of holes to fill on special teams. This unit will be a concern for the Cardinals in 2012.
Coach: Charlie Strong, third season. The offense will be West Coast oriented with balance in the passing and running game. The defense will be aggressive and in attack mode.
Schedule: The nonconference 2012 schedule is mediocre for the Cardinals as they play Kentucky, North Carolina and Southern Miss. Additionally, four Big East home games will be a plus for the Cardinals in 2012.
Overall: Louisville will continue to dominate in the Big East, especially with West Virginia no longer in the picture. The Cardinals have one of the better offenses in the league, a solid defense and the best coach in the Big East in Charlie Strong. As a result, the Cardinals deserve the No. 1 spot in the Big East football power rankings.