- Brian Bennett, College Football
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Chris Low did this for the SEC blog on Tuesday, and I liked the idea so much that I'm, uh, paying homage. Let's zoom ahead to Week 1 of the 2010 season -- now just a little more than three months away! -- and see who faces the most trouble.
The following is a ranking of teams from most likely to least likely to lose their opener:
1. Pittsburgh: Credit the Panthers for being bold when it comes to scheduling this year, especially in the opener. Pitt begins the year on a Thursday night at Utah, which has become a perennial power in the Mountain West Conference and nationally. Dave Wannstedt's team may be the most talented in the Big East, but Rice-Eccles Stadium isn't an easy place for anyone to play; the Utes are 53-16 there since 1998. Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri will be making his first career start.
2. Connecticut: The Huskies also eschewed the typical opening week cupcake for a shot at Michigan in Ann Arbor. I actually think UConn matches up pretty well with the Wolverines, but Michigan could be playing for its coach's job. And Randy Edsall couldn't beat Rich Rodriguez when Rich-Rod was at West Virginia.
3. Louisville: After dominating the series for several years, the Cardinals have lost three straight to in-state rival and opening opponent Kentucky. The good news is that the game is at home in the debut of both an expanded Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and new head coach Charlie Strong, so the excitement level will be high. The Wildcats are also breaking in a new head coach and have quarterback uncertainty, so this game looks like a toss-up on paper.
4. Cincinnati: Butch Jones' debut won't be an easy one, as the Bearcats have to travel across the country to play always-dangerous Fresno State. The Bulldogs aren't generating a lot of offseason buzz, and star tailback Ryan Mathews is gone. Still, Fresno gave last year's Big East champs all they could handle in Nippert Stadium a year ago, and you know Pat Hill's team won't be intimidated.
5. Syracuse: The Orange have no business losing to Akron, which went just 3-9 a year ago. Yet the Zips lost by only two touchdowns in the Carrier Dome a year ago, and it's a road game for Syracuse. Funny things can happen early in the season away from home.
6. South Florida: Stony Brook won a share of the Big South championship a year ago and gets the Bulls in their first game under Skip Holtz. But it's hard to imagine Holtz starting his tenure with a loss at home to the Seawolves.
7. West Virginia: The Mountaineers have more starters back than any other Big East team, so they should be ready to go in the opener. No way they're losing at home to Coastal Carolina.
8. Rutgers: Don't expect the Scarlet Knights to break much of a sweat at home against Norfolk State from the MEAC. The last time these two teams met was in 2007, with Rutgers winning 59-0. The score could be similar this time around.