HOW THEY'LL FINISH
This is an article from the Aug. 11, 2008 issue
Rutgers QB Mike Teel
Pitt RB LeSean McCoy
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
T, Sr., Louisville
The 6'2", 306-pound left tackle allowed two sacks over the past two seasons and was the foundation for an offense that ranked sixth in Division I-A last season.
DT, Sr., Cincinnati
He led the Bearcats with 17 tackles for loss last season, but he has been suspended for the opener against Eastern Kentucky because of a marijuana citation he received last March.
FS, Sr., Rutgers
A fourth-year starter who bypassed the NFL draft last spring, the hard-hitting 6'2", 210-pound safety has led the Scarlet Knights in tackles in two of his first three seasons.
DT, Jr., Syracuse
In his first year as a starter, the 6'4", 291-pound run-stopper, showing a remarkable ability to fight through double teams, was third in the conference with 17 1/2 tackles for loss.
LB, Sr., South Florida
A two-time transfer (from Michigan State and Iowa State), he set a Bulls record with 121 tackles last year, his first as a starter. He is moving from the outside to the middle.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Pat White, QB, Sr., West Virginia.
The conference offensive player of the year in each of the last two seasons, he can beat you with his arm (35 career TD passes) or his legs (3,506 career rushing yards).
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER
George Selvie, DE, Jr., South Florida.
Recruited as a center, the 6'4" 242-pounder topped the Big East in sacks last year (14 1/2) and is the anchor for one of the conference's quickest defensive lines.
TRUE FRESHMAN TO WATCH
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt.
The 6'5", 220-pound gem of a stellar 2008 recruiting class could become the new deep threat, replacing Maurice Williams (academically ineligible).
COACH ON THE RISE
Brian Kelly (right), Cincinnati.
In his first season he led the Bearcats to their first 10-win season in 56 years and a No. 17 national ranking.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT
Greg Robinson, Syracuse.
He has had the worst three-year run in Orange history (7--28) and if there are no signs of progress this fall, he could be gone before the season is over.
With the early departure of running back Ray Rice to the NFL and no clear-cut favorite to fill the void, Rutgers may have to air things out. Senior MIKE TEEL passed for 3,147 yards and 20 touchdowns last fall despite playing the final nine games with a fractured thumb on his throwing hand. And in senior TIQUAN UNDERWOOD (1,100 yards, seven TDs) and junior KENNY BRITT (1,232 yards, eight TDs), he has two of the top wideouts in the conference.... Former Michigan defensive coordinator RON ENGLISH accepted the same position at Louisville, where he faces a major challenge: rebuilding a unit that allowed 31.4 points per game. English prefers an attacking 4--3 scheme, but with a dearth of playmakers, he spent last spring stressing fundamentals and discipline.... Can UConn improve on its breakthrough 2007 season? Coach RANDY EDSALL played 17 freshmen last year, including linebackers SCOTT LUTRUS and LAWRENCE WILSON, who started all 13 games and combined for 220 tackles. They will be among six sophomores in the lineup.