College Football Predictions: Big East's Top Five Games of Week 1
We're just a week away now.
It's so close, and yet, this last week is going to feel like an eternity as college football nuts all over the country wait anxiously for the season to finally start.
There's nothing better than Week 1.
While the matchups generally get better as the weeks go by and conference play starts up, the games are never more unpredictable than they are in Week 1.
Each team has question marks and strengths that won't be exposed until the season really begins.
All of this makes it the toughest week to predict as well (not that I'm making excuses). Even so, here's a look at the best five Big East games to kick off the season.
#5: Syracuse at Akron
The Orange had no real trouble dispatching Akron last year under rookie head coach Doug Marrone.
This year, the rebuilding project should show more signs of progress, so the Orange shouldn’t have any trouble with the Zips, despite the matchup moving to Akron.
The Orange will bring a ton of pressure on Akron’s young quarterback Patrick Nicely with a defense that returns 10 starters, including two Butkus Award nominees in Doug Hogue and Derrell Smith.
On offense, Syracuse will pound the ball up the middle with 1,000 yard rusher, Delone Carter running behind an improved offensive line and will most likely break in its new starting quarterback, Ryan Nassib, slowly.
Assuming a focus on running the ball and that Nassib doesn't try to do too much, they won't have any trouble scoring.
Prediction: Syracuse 31 Akron 13
#4: Kentucky at Louisville
Well, in a rivalry between one of the SEC’s weakest and the Big East’s weakest…I’m gonna have to take the SEC’s representative.
The Charlie Strong era is just getting underway in Louisville and I think the Cardinals ill regain the upper hand in this rivalry within a few years, but right now the Cards need a serious upgrade in talent.
Louisville does have some talent at running back, including Victor Anderson who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a freshman in 2008 before enduring an injury-plagued season last year, but there isn't much else about which to get excited.
This one could be ugly.
Prediction: Kentucky 17 Louisville 10
#3: Cincinnati at Fresno State
Another year, another major dose of disrespect for Cincinnati; can somebody change the record?
The two-time defending Big East champs, fresh off an undefeated regular season in 2009, should still have one of the best offenses in the country.
New head coach Butch Jones runs a very similar system to what Brian Kelly ran last year; Zach Collaros, who put up stellar numbers filling in for Tony Pike last year, will take over at quarterback and they return one of the top receivers in the Big East in Armon Binns.
Oh, yeah, and there’s also Isaiah Pead who only ran for 6.7 yards per carry last season.
No disrespect to Fresno, but Cincinnati is going to be very good again this year.
Prediction: Cincinnati 38 Fresno State 24
#2: UConn at Michigan
The Wolverines’ defense is switching to a 3-3-5 system this year to counter its lack of depth at defensive line and focus on the strength in the secondary.
Unfortunately for Michigan though, that’s not likely to help them much against UConn, who will run the ball down the school's throat all day with Jordan Todman.
The Wolverines are still in rebuilding mode in Year 3 of the Rodriguez Era while the Huskies look primed for a terrific season in which they could make a run at the Big East title. UConn should win this one fairly handily.
Prediction: UConn 31 Michigan 17
#1: Pittsburgh at Utah
This is a tough one to call, as both teams should be pretty good. I think Pittsburgh should be better, but it’ll be a tough test to go into Utah and leave with a win. With that said though, the Utes have some question marks at linebacker and in their secondary.
They’re going to have serious problems stopping Dion Lewis (who doesn’t?) and if their new starting quarterback, Tino Sunseri can get him the ball, wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin could have a huge game.
Pittsburgh’s defense has some rebuilding to do as well this season, and Utah’s talented running back’s Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide could definitely take advantage, but I believe the bigger mismatch favors Pittsburgh.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 27 Utah 20