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Ten games to watch in the Big East this season

9/1/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

The games thankfully start in just a couple of days. But which ones are the most important? Here's a list of 10 must-see games in the Big East this season:

1. Cincinnati at Rutgers, Sept. 7: Right out of the chute, this key conference showdown awaits. Without another league game until October and with both teams looking like contenders, this is an early one that will be meaningful late.

2. North Carolina at Connecticut, Sept. 12: The Tar Heels are one of the better nonconference opponents to step foot on Big East turf this season. This game will quickly show us how good UConn is going to be.

3. West Virginia at Auburn, Sept. 19: If the Big East wants to get some national respect back early, it would help greatly if one of its marquee teams can march into SEC country and come away with the victory.

4. South Florida at Florida State, Sept. 26: This could be the biggest win in Bulls' history if they can pull it off. And it's another one of those nonconference bragging rights games.

5. Pittsburgh at Rutgers, Oct. 16: The Scarlet Knights have owned the Panthers of late. If Pitt is going to be a title contender this year, it needs to get past Rutgers.

6. West Virginia at South Florida, Oct. 30: These two teams usually stage must-see games with the ample collection of speed on both sides. If the Bulls have a good record going in, Raymond James Stadium should be rocking.

7. West Virginia at Cincinnati, Nov. 13: Last year's game was an overtime thriller and catapulted Cincinnati to the league title. It could be just as important this year.

8. Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, Nov. 14: It's the Big East's preseason favorite against the team the Big East loves to hate. Plus, last year's game was a four-overtime classic that begs for a worthy sequel.

9. Pittsburgh at West Virginia, Nov. 27: The Backyard Brawl is always one of the biggest games on the Big East schedule, and this year it should have major implications for the conference race.

10. West Virginia at Rutgers, Dec. 5: Coming as it does on championship Saturday, this game sets up perfectly as the de facto Big East title game. If both schools do their part, that is