Monday, May 3, 2010
Post-spring Big East power rankings
By Brian Bennett
Spring football is over, and it's time to issue another set of power rankings for the Big East.
I saw seven of the eight teams in person this spring (sorry, Syracuse) and I think I have a pretty good feel for where the teams stand right now. But things can change between now and September, and this league is going to be as competitive as it's ever been from top to bottom. Now, without further ado:
1. Pittsburgh: The Panthers have some questions, notably on the interior offensive line. But they've also got Dion Lewis, Greg Romeus and Jonathan Baldwin and more answers on both sides of the ball than any other Big East squad.
2. Cincinnati: The two-time defending champs probably deserve the top spot until someone knocks them out of it. Still, I have lingering concerns about that defense, though the offense has a chance to be devastatingly good.
3. Connecticut: I liked UConn going into the spring and was even more impressed with the Huskies after seeing them live. Lots of depth and more speed than you think.
4. West Virginia: The Mountaineers could very easily rule the Big East again this year and have more returning starters than anyone else. I need to see Geno Smith get fully healthy and things start to jell more overall before I move them up, however.
5. Rutgers: This is a young but very talented team, especially on defense. The offensive line remains the huge sticking point right now and could be what holds the Scarlet Knights back from serious contention this year.
6. South Florida: Losing A.J. Love at the end of the spring was a big blow for an offense that was light on experienced receivers. The defense is green but gifted. Skip Holtz has plenty to work with, but he may need some more time to get it all pieced together.
7. Syracuse: Delone Carter's suspension at the end of the spring cast a pall over the Orange camp, and quarterback competition could continue into August. Syracuse still should show improvement based simply on having more healthy bodies.
8. Louisville: Incoming players this summer could push for playing time right away, because the Cardinals need more difference-makers, especially on defense. The team got better and tougher this spring under Charlie Strong but still has a long way to go.