Time to move along to Week 2 in my ultimate Big East road trip. For those just tuning in to this new series, I am selecting the games I would choose to see each and every week this season.
My editors usually do that for me. But if the scheduling were up to me, this is where I would want to go.
Here is the Week 2 schedule:
Thurs., Sept. 6
Pitt at Cincinnati
Sat., Sept. 8
NC State at UConn
Missouri State at Louisville
Howard at Rutgers
USF at Nevada
USC vs. Syracuse
Maryland at Temple
My choice: Pitt at Cincinnati
Why: There are more intriguing games in Week 2 than in Week 1, so this was a much more difficult decision. I could bend the spirit of the rules and pick two games -- start off in Cincinnati on Thursday night before heading to New York to watch USC against Syracuse. But we are generally assigned just one game a week. So I shall pick one.
I really would love to see USC vs. Syracuse, because this is one of the high-profile nonconference games of the Big East season. USC will be one of the top-ranked teams in the nation, playing Syracuse in the shadow of New York City. A win for Syracuse here, and the Big East reputation will no doubt be bolstered. But I am going with the game that has Big East implications, also being played on national television.
This is the season opener for the Bearcats, who will have a new look with so much departing talent gone. And it is the first big test for new Pitt coach Paul Chryst (the Panthers open the season against FCS Youngstown State). Cincinnati has won a share of the Big East championship three times in the past four seasons, including 2009 -- the last time the Bearcats opened the season against a Big East opponent (Rutgers). The big question is whether they can do it again after losing players like Zach Collaros, Isaiah Pead, Derek Wolfe and JK Schaffer.
As for Pitt, how will the revamped offensive scheme fare against what should continue to be an aggressive defensive front? Has Ray Graham returned to form? How does Tino Sunseri handle Big East play for the third straight season? How does the Pitt revamped front seven do against a team with a mobile quarterback that likes to run the spread? Whoever wins obviously gets a leg up in the Big East standings early in the season, making this the most important game of Week 2.
In case you missed it, here is Week 1.