College Football Analysis: Could South Florida, Rutgers Surprise Louisville in 2012?

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We continue our series of Conference Conversations this week by taking a look at the Big East. The Saturday Edge is very proud to present an exclusive Big East football Q & A session with Pete Sonski of Big East Coast Bias.

Question # 1: Las Vegas has installed Louisville as the favorite to win the Big East this year (+190). What other team(s) could realistically surprise the oddsmakers and challenge the Cardinals for the conference title? Why?

South Florida has a tremendous defense and a veteran quarterback in B.J. Daniels. The team has had difficulty down the stretch in recent seasons, but it returns 14 players and has four conference home games (as opposed to three for half the conference). I consider the Bulls are legitimate contenders.

Rutgers is another strong possibility. They’ve got another great defense: deep and talented. If the Scarlet Knights can settle on a quarterback and run the ball effectively they’ll be in every conference game.

Question # 2: Name me a few unknown players that could become stars this season?

There are not many household names in the Big East, so the field of unknowns is large. Look for Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville QB) to draw some attention this year.

UConn RB Lyle McCombs logged 1,100 yards last year as a freshman. His offensive line should be a notch better in 2012.

QB Chris Coyer at Temple put up some numbers late last year. He could catch somebody off guard.

Cincinnati’s Anthony McClung is a standout WR but under most people’s radar.

On the defensive side, watch LBs Khaseem Greene at Rutgers and DeDe Lattimore at South Florida.

Question # 3: Which team do you believe will show the greatest improvement over last season? Which team is overrated (not nearly as good as they are being made out to be)?

South Florida was 1-6 in conference last year. The Bulls should easily be the biggest mover in a positive direction.

Pittsburgh has a lot of talent but has had four head coaches in the past two seasons (not counting interims). They’re moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 on defense and from the spread to the pro-set on offense. The odds makers have them at seven wins, but I’m not taking the over.

Question # 4: How’s Temple going to do in their first year back in the conference?

Temple is moving into the Big East conference with just eight returning starters. They lost a 1,500-yard rusher to the NFL in Bernard Pierce. The Owls were 9-4 last year with a bowl victory against Wyoming, but it’s likely they will not be favored in a single conference game in 2012.

I would like to thank Pete for his participation and excellent answers to our Big East football questions. If you get a chance please check out their site. It has some really great information on Big East football. And don’t forget to leave us your comments below. Thanks – Pez.

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.