How They'll Finish
This is an article from the Aug. 17, 2009 issue
Players to Watch
Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
RB, Soph., Louisville
The Big East rookie of the year ran for 1,047 yards in 2008 and figures to get more work as the Cardinals break in QB Justin Burke.
OL, Jr., Rutgers
He anchors the Big East's top O-line, which returns all five starters on an offense that looks to improve on its No. 39 ranking of last year.
QB, Sr., South Florida
The 6-foot scrambler, who enters his fourth year as the Bulls' starter, threw for 18 touchdowns last season and ran for four more.
LB, Jr., UConn
Moving from the outside to the middle in '08, he had a team-high 106 tackles and picked off four passes for the Big East's top defense.
SS, Sr., Cincinnati
The lone returning starter on the Bearcats' defense, Webster had a career-high 13 tackles in a big overtime win over West Virginia last year.
UConn lost its best player when tailback Donald Brown (2,083 rushing yards in 2008) left early for the NFL. Now the Huskies will try to improve a passing game that ranked 109th in the country last season. New offensive coordinator JOE MOORHEAD, who spent the last five seasons at Akron, plans to add a no-huddle look to the game plan.... Making another bid for its first Big East title, Rutgers must first find suitable replacements for five departed starters on defense. The Knights will build around senior middle linebacker RYAN D'IMPERIO, who had 93 tackles and 5½ sacks last season in his first full year as a starter.... Perhaps no one in the conference has a tougher act to follow than West Virginia senior quarterback JARRETT BROWN (left), who takes over for the prolific Pat White. In a reserve role over the past three seasons Brown threw 125 passes, with five touchdowns and four interceptions.... New Syracuse coach DOUG MARRONE, who spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator of the pass-happy New Orleans Saints, is looking for a quarterback. Former Duke point guard GREG PAULUS is an option. Paulus, who has one year of eligibility left, has not played since high school, in '05, but he entered fall practice third on the depth chart.
Best offensive player
TB, Jr., West Virginia
With QB Pat White gone, the 5'8", 175-pound dynamo should build on his breakout 2008 season (1,289 yards, four TDs).
Best defensive player
DE, Sr., South Florida
Due to constant double teams, Selvie (left) saw his sack total dip from 14½ in '07 to 5½ last year, but NFL teams are high on the speed rusher.
True freshman to watch
The 5'8", 190-pound speedster was an early enrollee, and coach Dave Wannstedt says that Lewis could get 30 touches per game.
Coach on the rise
He has won 22 games and a Big East title in two seasons with the Bearcats. No wonder his name gets mentioned when high-profile jobs are open.
Coach on the hot seat
After losing his last five games to drop his two-year record to 11--13, he's taking on offensive coordinator duties as well.