The Big East: NCAA Football Early Rankings

Va Tech FanContributor IJune 7, 2009

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Quarterback Matt Grothe #8 of the University of South Florida Bulls sets to pass against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Raymond James Stadium on October 2, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

1. West Virginia—Coming of a thrilling bowl victory, WVU loses dual-threat QB Pat White, and Jarrett Brown, his backup, takes over. They will have small, speedy back Noel Divine back as he looks to lead the WVU backfield. The defense returns seven players and needs to take the next step if post-Pat White WVU wants to remain successful.

2. USF—USF has a very good, dual-threat, QB in Matt Grothe. They return DE George Selvie for his senior year, which is a huge plus for the Bulls. USF lost their starting RB and their top two receivers and must replace two lineman. There will be high expectation for USF and a Big East title is not out of the question.

3. Cincinnati—Cincy finished last year losing the Orange Bowl to VT, where Tony Pike threw four INTs. Last year Pike was fifth on the depth chart to start the season, this year he'll be first. Having a spring with the first team offense should definitely help with his development. Cincy's defense is their big question mark. They lose almost their entire senior defense. How the new comers play will determine a lot about how Cincy finishes out. WR Marshwan Gilyard is a star in the making, look for him to put up big numbers this year.

4. Rutgers—Under Greg Schiano the Rutgers program has rebounded and was suppose to compete last year, but a poor start put that on hold. WR Tiquan Underwood and QB Mike Teal graduated. Rutgers needs to find some fire power on offense and to shore up a secondary that will have to replace three starters.

5. Connecticut—Donald Brown declared for the NFL and with the graduation of QB Tyler Lorenzen, UCONN will be much like Rutgers; trying to find firepower on offense. UCONN looks to be in a rebuilding year. 

6. Pittsburgh—The loss of Shady McCoy will be huge for Pittsburgh. They need to find some production from other areas of the offense to be successful. The Sun bowl showed us exactly how good, or bad, Pitt was when Shady wasn't doing anything. Hopefully the Panthers can find someone or else it could be a big let down year for the Panthers.

7. Louisville—Steve Kragthorpe needs a good year this year, or else he could be on his way out. Right now Tyler Wolfe looks to be the starting QB for the Cardinals. Louisville hasn't had a good year since their Orange Bowl win and this will be a crucial one for Kragthorpe.

8. Syracuse—The Cuse fired coach Greg Robinson after a 3-9 season. Cuse returns eight players on the defensive side, and that could be a good point for the Orange Men. It looks like another tough year for the Orange.