The Big East, as it always seems to, went down to the final week of the season with Cincinnati beating Pitt in a classic in the snow to take the title and the BCS bowl berth. However, the Bearcats got shelled in the Sugar Bowl 51-24 by the Florida Gators in Tim Tebow's last college game. The Big East did go 4-2 in bowl games last season and has set the stage for another wild race for the championship in 2010 as five teams have a decent shot at the title.
Champion - Pittsburgh
The Panthers have three legitimate All-American candidates in RB Dion Lewis, WR Jonathan Baldwin, and DE Greg Romeus. Head Coach Dave Wannstedt has been stockpiling talent and has come within a game of winning the title the last two seasons, only to lose to Cincinnati.
This is the year the Panthers get over the hump. It will not be easy though, they are breaking in a new quarterback and they have a tough non-conference schedule starting the season at Utah and then play Miami and Notre Dame as well. However, they have the best overall talent in the league and should finish the season on top.
Runner Up - Connecticut
The Huskies overcame so much last season after the murder of Jasper Howard. They rallied to win their last four games including a bowl win over South Carolina. Head Coach Randy Edsall has built himself a solid program going to a bowl in three straight years. This season the Huskies return 17 starters and they get West Virginia, Pitt, and Cincinnati at home. The Huskies run the ball well and play great defense. That will keep them in games and maybe get them to the championship.
RB Noel Devine is a burner and the Mountaineers return 19 starters. However, they are breaking in a new quarterback and it looks like the overall talent has dropped off a little since Rich Rod left Morgantown.
Zach Collaros proved he could play well in relief of Tony Pike last year. The Bearcats have won 18 straight regular season games so they know how to win. But Head Coach Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame. Did he take some of the magic with him?
It was not too long ago that Scarlet Knights' head coach Greg Schiano was the hottest coaching commodity in the country after resurrecting a long dormant Rutgers program. Now after a few winning seasons, but no Big East Championship, fans are wondering if Schiano has lost his touch. A sub par offensive line and running game keeps the Scarlet Knights out of the title picture.
New coach Skip Holtz (Lou's son) will keep things fun in Tampa as the offense will score points led by QB B.J. Daniels, but the defense took a huge hit losing pass rushers George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul. The Bulls will have to outscore people all season.
The Orange have begun a slow climb back to respectability under coach Doug Marrone. But they only have 52 scholarship players so depth is a big issue. They are still about two-three years away.
New Head Coach Charlie Strong has re-energized a program that was in the title picture not too long ago. Strong is a defensive guy, but he has lots of rebuilding to do on that side of the ball if the Cardinals are to be competitive.