Although the Big East is not considered as deep and talented as leagues like the SEC or Big XII, college football fans will still be able to turn on a Big East game on any given week and see a number of future pros.
The Big East fared quite well in the latest NFL Draft, producing 27 total draft picks. While that total was less than that of some of the other major conferences, the Big East actually had more players drafted per team than any other conference due to the Big East’s smaller size.
Among those 27 players drafted, nine were taken in the first two rounds, making it the most productive conference by average in the top two rounds as well.
There are still plenty of quality NFL prospects still left in the league moving forward though. Here’s a list of my top ten NFL prospects in the Big East this year.
1) 1) George Selvie—DE—USF
2) 2) Anthony Davis—OT—Rutgers
3) 3) Arthur Jones—DT—Syracuse
4) 4) Nate Allen—S—USF
5) 5) Mardy Gilyard—WR—Cincinnati
6) 6) Noel Devine—RB—West Virginia
7) 7) Greg Romeus—DE—Pittsburgh
8) 8) Tony Pike—QB—Cincinnati
9) 9) Robert Vaughn—S—Uconn
10) 10) Mick Williams—DT—Pittsburgh
Big East fans will get the chance to see the league’s elite players face off against big time competition from the other major conferences early and often this year. USF fans in particular will get to see their team face off against a very intriguing out of conference slate, but a number of Big East teams will also test themselves with tough games outside of the Big East.
Here are the Big East’s top 10 out of conference games this season:
1) 1) Nov. 28—Miami (FL) @ USF—The second game in USF’s quest to earn more respect in the state of Florida. The two teams have met only once, a 27-7 loss for the Bulls in 2005.
2) 2) Sept. 19—West Virginia @ Auburn—The Tigers had a disappointing season last year going 5-7. New head coach Gene Chizik can make a statement by beating the Mountaineers; something Tommy Tuberville was unable to do last season.
3) 3) Nov. 14—Notre Dame @ Pitt—Pittsburgh won a close one in South Bend last year, 36-33. This is sure to be an interesting game, featuring one of the Big East’s best against an Irish team that some are predicting will return to the BCS this season.
4) 4) Sept. 26—USF @ Florida State—These two teams have never played before, but beating the Seminoles in Tallahassee would make USF’s game with Miami even more interesting by giving them the opportunity to sweep their meetings with two of Florida’s top programs.
5) 5) Oct. 1—Colorado @ West Virginia—Colorado had a tough season last year, but they managed to contribute to West Virginia’s disappointing season with a win at home. This year they’re traveling to Morgantown and you can bet the Mountaineers will have revenge on their minds.
6) 6) Nov. 28—Illinois @ Cincinnati—Illinois will have the talent to compete for a Big 10 title this year, led by senior quarterback Juice Williams. Cincinnati will need to get their new look defense in gear if they’re going to win this one.
7) 7) Sept. 12—UNC @ UConn—The Tar Heels gave Connecticut a pretty good beating last year in Chapel Hill, but both teams are going to look very different this season. This early test should give UConn fans a pretty good idea whether or not their team is going to be able to compete for a Big East title this year.
8) 8) Sept. 19—Louisville @ Kentucky—The Cardinals have lost their last two meetings with their in-state rivals. A win this year could go a long way in kick starting the successful season Steve Kragthorpe is going to need to save his job.
9) 9) Sept. 19—Cincinnati @ Oregon State—If the Bearcats can pull off a big win on the road, it should give Cincinnati fans reason to believe they can win the Big East title for the second straight year.
10) 10) Sept. 5—Minnesota @ Syracuse—The first game of the Doug Marrone era, as well as the possible college football debut of Syracuse’s prodigal son Greg Paulus should be enough to generate significant interest among a fan base that hasn’t had much to cheer about the past four seasons. A win would be absolutely huge for a Syracuse program that’s trying to make its return to glory.
The out of conference schedule is just the appetizer for what is sure to be a very entertaining season in the Big East. The conference is as wide open as ever this year, with six of the eight teams having at least a chance to win the title.
As wide open as things are, there are always a few games over the course of a season that mean just a little bit more than the rest. Here are the top five games that you’re not going to want to miss this Big East season.
1) 1) Nov. 27—Pittsburgh @ West Virginia—Without a doubt the top rivalry in the Big East right now. Pitt has won the last two meetings, including their upset win two years ago which cost the Mountaineers a spot in the BCS title game. With both teams looking like serious contenders, this game could very well determine the conference champion.
2) 2) Oct. 30—West Virginia @ USF—The Mountaineers and Bulls is has been a budding rivalry, with the two teams splitting their last four meetings. Another battle between the two most prolific spread offenses in the league is sure to exciting.
3) 3) Dec. 5—Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh—This meeting between the defending champs and one of the favorites to dethrone them should be a great matchup to conclude the regular season. Pittsburgh had won three in a row against the Bearcats, until Cincinnati finally managed to get a win at home last season.
4) 4) Sept. 7—Cincinnati @ Rutgers—There is no warm-up for these two teams this year. This will be the first game of the season for these two teams, and if either team isn’t ready in week one, they’ll be in an early hole in the Big East standings. The Scarlet Knights got off to a very poor start last year, losing five of their first six games including a loss to the Bearcats. Needless to say, Rutgers can’t afford a similar start again this year.
5) 5) Oct. 24—USF @ Pitt—Two of the most talented and experienced teams in the league this year. Both teams boast solid defenses, but the game will probably come down which is more productive, Pittsburgh’s running game or Matt Grothe for the Bulls.