The Pittsburgh Panthers football team is the preseason favorite to win the Big East Championship.
After finishing 10-3 (5-2) last season and returning potential Heisman candidate Dion Lewis at running back along with standout wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, the Panthers are easily the most talented team on paper.
The Panthers 2010 schedule features some strong nonconference opponents that includes opening the season at Utah traveling to South Bend to play Notre Dame and playing host to the Miami Hurricanes.
They also play much improved Connecticut away as well as two-time defending Big East Champion Cincinatti to close the season. They do however, get West Virginia in the much anticipated "Back Yard Brawl" at home.
It is hard not to pick the Panthers to win the Big East this season when both the reigning offensive player of the year (Dion Lewis) and co-defensive player of the year (Greg Romeus) return.
I know any team in the Big East can win the conference at any given year, but the Panthers do not have much competition.
Cincy who came back from a 21 point deficit to defeat Pitt in the final regular season game last year to secure the Big East title, lost some of their core players on offensive, not to mention losing head coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame. Without Tony Pike under center and speedy receiver Marcus Gilyard I just do not like their chances.
Rival West Virginia is the only team that can come remotely close to the Panthers. With shifty running back Noel Devine gaping through holes and Jock Sanders coming into his own at wide receiver, the Mountaineers possess some quality talent at the skilled positions.
But the Panthers get their long-time rival at home at wild Heinz Field and the rowdy Pittsburgh fans will just be too much for the Mountaineers. Pitt is loaded with far too much talent to give one away at home with the Big East title on the line.
I expect another 10 win season from the Panthers. They can easily go 4-1 maybe even 5-0 to start off the 2010 campaign with their only possible setback coming at the hands of the Hurricanes.