What we learned this spring in the Big East
May, 2, 2013
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com
1. This is still Louisville's conference. The Cardinals earned the Big East's BCS bowl bid last season, upset (and routed) heavily favored Florida in the Sugar Bowl and should only be better in Year 4 of the Charlie Strong era. (Or, perhaps more appropriately, Year 3 of the Teddy Bridgewater era.) The mild-mannered quarterback has appeared near the top of virtually every preseason Heisman Trophy list and early 2014 mock drafts, but first things first: Closing the Cardinals' run in the soon-to-be American Athletic Conference on a strong note. To the program, it may mean perfect season or bust, as little stands in the way on the 2013 slate.
2. QB battles are all over. There is Bridgewater, there is UCF's Blake Bortles and there is Rutgers' Gary Nova, but clarity has been otherwise hard to come by under center in the conference. Tommy Tuberville has let Brendon Kay and Munchie Legaux slug it out this spring at Cincinnati, Jacob Karam is trying to fend off Paxton Lynch and Eric Mathews at Memphis, and Willie Taggart has given Bobby Eveld the slight edge over Matt Floyd going into the summer at USF. Temple (Connor Reilly) and Houston (David Piland) don't have sure things at No. 1 just yet, either.
3. Newcomers are looking to make mark. UCF leads the pack of four new schools in the conference, and it may just be the team with the best shot of knocking Louisville from the top. Coach George O'Leary says that's the goal for a team that won 10 games in 2012 and plays the toughest nonconference slate of any Big East team in 2013. Houston boasts arguably the most talented receiving corps in the league and returns nearly its entire defense. And SMU has brought Hal Mumme into the mix to help Garrett Gilbert and the offense, while Memphis looks to build off a strong finish to 2012 (three straight wins and its best season since 2008).