- Brian Bennett, College Football
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Fortune favors the bold.
Or at least that's what I tell myself when my preseason predictions invariably turn out wrong. I'm still waiting for my fortune.
Still, if you're going to try to divine (not Devine) the future, you might as well go big and bold. Here are 10 fearless predictions for the 2010 Big East season:
1. Noel Devine will go to New York for the Heisman ceremony: The West Virginia senior will have a career year, and his highlight runs in big games will ensure that he becomes a Heisman Trophy finalist.
2. Zach Collaros will break the Big East's single-season yardage record: We're basically talking 4,000 yards here -- Louisville's Brian Brohm compiled 3,978 yards in 2007. So that's a huge number, and Collaros will have to average more than 300 yards a game over the course of 13 contests. But Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour went over 4,000 twice when Butch Jones was his coach. Collaros averaged 356 total yards in four starts a year ago and has a plethora of weapons; plus, Cincinnati might have to win some shootouts.
3. UConn will win at least nine games -- in Randy Edsall's last season: In no way is Edsall scrambling to leave UConn. He's been there for a decade, has some of the finest facilities anywhere and is in total control of his program. But he's also a hot commodity in the coaching business, and his already high respect level soared with the way he handled the Jasper Howard tragedy last year. Some blue-chip program will make Edsall an offer he can't refuse this offseason.
4. The league will score three big nonconference victories: And those three will be: UConn over Michigan in Week 1; Pitt over Miami on Sept. 23; and West Virginia in the biggest upset at LSU on Sept. 25.
5. The Pitt-West Virginia winner will be in the BCS title chase: In three of the past four years, the Big East champion has been in the thick of the national title hunt in November or beyond. That trend continues this year, and Pittsburgh and West Virginia are the two most likely teams to carry that mantle, given its schedules and returning talent. If the Mountaineers do beat LSU, watch out. Similarly, even if Pitt loses early, the Panthers will have a chance to get back in the race.
6. The Big East will have to wait until 2011 to experience the Champs Sports Bowl: The league's new No. 2 bowl spot has the option of taking Notre Dame once in the next four years. That once will be this year, as the Irish finish between seven and nine wins, and the bowl eagerly snaps them up. Remember the Gator and Sun Bowls had a chance to take Notre Dame twice in a four-year span and never did because Notre Dame couldn't qualify. The Champs people know this and won't let the opportunity pass them by. That means a Big East team could win 10 or 11 games, finish second in the league and still end up in Charlotte for the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
7. Syracuse will challenge for a bowl bid: The Orange haven't made the postseason since going 6-6 in 2004. They'll have a chance this year. They should be no worse than 3-1 to start the year, with Akron, Maine and Colgate on the schedule. If Syracuse can find just two wins elsewhere, it will go into the regular season finale at home against Boston College for a chance to break even. Playing two FCS teams means that 6-6 guarantees nothing; but with so many bowl spots open, long-suffering Orange fans will have hope.
8. South Florida will struggle to make a bowl: With games at Florida, at Miami, at Cincinnati and at West Virginia, the Bulls don't have much room for error in 2010. They'll still make a bowl game at 7-5, but bigger things will be on the horizon once Skip Holtz establishes his program.
9. Rutgers will play in the first New Era Pinstripe Bowl: OK, this isn't that bold. If Rutgers is available -- and with Norfolk State, FIU, Army and Tulane on the schedule, bowl eligibility is all but inevitable -- the Scarlet Knights are the logical choice to play the first-ever bowl game in new Yankee Stadium.
10. Rutgers and Pittsburgh will be invited to the Big Ten in January: Well, I said I was going bold.