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September 2, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett
  (4:01 PM)

Hello, everybody. We'll have actual varsity tackle football in about 27 hours. Life is good.Anyway, I'm here to take your questions for about 30 or 40 minutes, so fire away.

Chris (Albuquerque, NM)

Brian, I am a big notre dame fan. Most of the talk is about their offense. Who will be the keys for Notre Dame's defense this year for them to succeed?

Brian Bennett
  (4:02 PM)

They need to be stronger up front on the defensive line. They're counting on Kapron Lewis-Moore and others who have never proven anything in college. They also need more athleticism at linebacker, though Manti Te'o may help that.

Tim (Washington, DC)

Brian-How many wins would be a good season for rookie head coach Doug Marrone and Syracuse? Is 6-6 too much of a reach?

Brian Bennett
  (4:03 PM)

I think 6-6 is a stretch and represents the best possible scenario. A 4-8 or 5-7 record would represent progress.

Stephen (Tazewell, VA)

Does Leavitt have a true hatred for WVU since he put 4 BE teams in his top 25 and not one of them WVU?

Brian Bennett
  (4:04 PM)

I don't know about hatred, but that's one thing about making your ballot public ... other schools get bulletin board material out of it. Leavitt says he's going to keep his ballot public all year, so we'll see what he does with the Mountaineers as they go through the season.

Matt (CT)

Hey B.B. why doesn't Pitt WR Baldwin get ANY national recognition? He is a combination of antonio bryant and fitz in my mind. with his speed, height, and ahtleticism how could he be overlooked??

Brian Bennett
  (4:06 PM)

Because he was a freshman last year and Pitt doesn't have a great passing game. As good as he is, Baldwin had only 18 catches a year ago. If he has a big year this season, and I think he will, people will notice

David (Cincinnati)

Hey there Brian (or as my co-worker and I call you, "BB"). I enjoy your lunchtime links to other stories around the big east very much. Having the background you have in journalism, I was wondering why you think there is not as much reporting around UC football? I mean over the past couple of years there hasn't been much else to cheer for in this town.

Brian Bennett
  (4:07 PM)

BB is an acceptable nickname, as is Double-B or B-squared. My friends call me B-boy, however.Anyway, the reason is because Cincinnati is still a pro town, no matter how bad the Bengals and Reds continue to be, and many of the college sports fans there like Ohio State. Cincinnati football doesn't have a lot of tradition to fall back on, either.

Chris (Cincinnati)

Brian, should we BE fans actually root for ND to make it to the BCS!?

Brian Bennett
  (4:08 PM)

You want the Irish to either be really really good or really terrible, because anything between 7-5 and 9-3 almost certainly means they're going to take the Gator Bowl slot.

Andrew (NJ)

Hey Brian, love the blog. I am a recent graduate and unemployed so I check this blog about every 15 minutes for a new post. I'm consumed. Anyways, I want to look past 2009. You have to think with the recruits Rutgers has brought in they have the brightest future from 2010-12. Thoughts on Rutgers future domination of the Big East?

Brian Bennett
  (4:09 PM)

Domination is not a word I would use. West Virginia, Pitt and South Florida have been recruiting very well, too, and Cincinnati will continue to be good as long as Kelly stays. But I do like Rutgers' chances of contending the next couple of years, for sure. Good luck on the job search

Chris (Louisville, Ky)

with kragthorpe having a losing record in his career at UofL, is this his final chance to turn things around for the program before Jurich gives him the boot?

Brian Bennett
  (4:10 PM)

I think the team definitely has to show improvement. A 3-9 season or something like that is probably going to cost him his job. Now, if they go 5-7 but are competitive, he probably comes back.

Brandon (Holly Hill, FL)

Do you think Notre Dame has the best receiving core in college football?

Brian Bennett
  (4:11 PM)

They're in the conversation. I'd like to see a full year out of Floyd. Throw in Rudolph as well as the tight end and they've got three of the best starters, for sure.

Mike (CT)

Natale, Frazer, Stull........pick one as your starter.

Brian Bennett
  (4:12 PM)

Hmm ... Interesting question. We just haven't seen much from Natale, so not him. Stull has struggled. So I guess that leaves me with Frazer, on pure potential alone.

Matt (Middletown NJ)

Which current head coach is most likely to skip town for a big contract and big name school? And what school would they likely go to?

Brian Bennett
  (4:13 PM)

Assuming you're talking Big East, Brian Kelly is still the hottest name. Obviously, Notre Dame would greatly appeal to him, and possibly Boston College. Keep an eye on the Michigan situation as well, since he knows that state well.

Alex (Cincinnati)

Hey Brian,I was wondering how you think my beloved Bearcats will hold up in the out of conference games. Clearly, we have one of the tougher lineups--including games at Oregon State, at Miami (rivalry), and home games against Fresno St and Illinois. As defending champs, I hope the team can step it up and represent for the conference in these games. How do you see these games unfolding? I would like to think we can take them all--but I know the beavers have a serious home field edge. Your thoughts?

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

I like Cincinnati to win all those games but Oregon State. That's just a difficult assignment, flying cross country and playing in a hostile environment against a good team. Plus, they may beat up a little from what promises to be a physical week one.

Mike (New Brunswick)

I remember hearing you will be at the RU-Cincinnati game on Monday. Time to put aside all the debating... give us a prediction. RU is the betting favorite with a -5 1/2 pt spread, and o/u at 48.5. Over or under? Will RU cover the spread?

Brian Bennett
  (4:15 PM)

Predictions come out tomorrow. Sorry, you'll have to wait.

Jon (Norfolk, Va)

Hey Brain! Read your big east daily. Just wondering why WVU isn?t getting as much preseason love when they have the least amount of questions marks in my opinion. Yes I know we are replacing an under achieving offensive line from last year and a qb who didn?t exactly fit into Mullen?s system but isn?t Rutgers and Pitt not bringing back a lot of skilled positions a much bigger question?

Brian Bennett
  (4:17 PM)

Brain is not an acceptable nickname, but I'll forgive you, Jon. I love West Virginia's skill positions. I am a little skeptical of their toughness until I see it in action. They were great at the skill spots last year too but averaged less than 25 points per game. But, I think it's a good thing for them that they're under the radar a bit. Last year's Top 10 ranking proved to be ludicrous

Jack (PA)

Are there any Big East bloggers that you would put on your Big East Message board MVP's? (Most Valuable Posters) If so, who?

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

The ones I read the most are Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, Bleed Scarlet, Card Chronicle and Pitt Blather. For what it's worth.

Bud (Syracuse, NY)

What do you think the attendance will be for Syracuse's game on Saturday...not tickets sold, but actual fannies in the seats.

Brian Bennett
  (4:18 PM)

From what I understand, they're practically giving tickets away. If there's not at least 40,000-to-45,000 there, I think it's a great disappointment.

eqwasta (reno, nv)

I think if Nevada's secondary has improved moderately it could be a long day in south bend. Nevada went up against the three highest drafted receivers in Crabtree, Heyward Bey, and others at Mizz. Do you think that will be improvement for Nevada in their secondary, and is their linebackers enough for ND. No doubt the D-line and offense should be a powerful asset against the Irish

Brian Bennett
  (4:19 PM)

The secondary brings a lot of experience back -- but it was also the worst in the country statistically last year. Of course, as you mention, the Wolf Pack played some really, really good passing teams and played in the pass-heavy WAC, so those numbers may be skewed. I still think it's a good matchup for Clausen.

James (High Point, NC)

Every year (Well, at least since 2007) Connecticut seems to sneak up and surprise a lot of people. Even though they're losing Donald Brown, they have a QB (Frazer) that has a lot of potential and have Andre Dixon and Jordan Todman replacing Brown, who are no pushovers. Add to that possibly the best defense in the Big East and you could have a very good football team if things come together. Would you be shocked if UConn won the Big East? I hope it doesn't happen as I am a WVU fan, but the lack of respect for the Huskies does always seem to make me take up for them and I have a deep appreciation for what Edsall has done in Storrs.

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

I may a little bit surprised if they won the league, but not at all if they're serious contenders. Edsall is a fantastic coach. Read my post from this afternoon about UConn ... touches on many of these subjects

Bobby (Rhode Island)

What teams OOC schedual will give the Big East some respect if they win all of them and represent the Big East in a BCS Bowl game?

Brian Bennett
  (4:21 PM)

West Virginia because of Colorado, East Carolina, and Auburn. Cincinnati because of the games we mentioned earlier. And South Florida, only because of Florida State and Miami. Definitely not Rutgers.

Jason (Elmira)

Hey Brian, do you think at the end of the season the Big East will have more national respect then they do now, or less?

Brian Bennett
  (4:22 PM)

Definitely more, though that's not a high bar to clear. I expect at least one Top 15 team and two more in the Top 25. They've got to win some nonconference games, though.

Drew (Brooklyn)

Rutgers fan here - hope we give you a good show on Monday. Do you plan on checking out the tailgate scene? It will be good times.

Brian Bennett
  (4:23 PM)

If I can get there early enough. Last time there I got stuck on the turnpike forever. I'll take suggestions on best tailgate areas.

Sam (Bristol, CT)

Why is the perception that UConn has a slow defense? This may have been true in 2006 and possibly 2007, but not last year and certainly not this year. The Front 7 is extremely quick.

Brian Bennett
  (4:25 PM)

Mostly because of the way they've played against West Virginia, which isn't really fair since the Mountaineers are faster than a lot of teams (including Auburn last year). I'm interested to see how playing against their own no-huddle offense all offseason has affected the defense's conditioning.

Mike (Chicago)

Why does every segment/article about Notre Dame football focus on the perceived ease of the 2009 schedule? It is by no means a murders row, but when you compare it to other teams in the top 25 (PSU) it does not seem too different.

Brian Bennett
  (4:26 PM)

It's hard to compare it to teams that are in conferences. Most people compare it to Notre Dame's previous schedules. The fact is only one team on the slate (USC) is ranked, which makes this an easier schedule than normal for the Irish. But there are some potential Top 25 teams, like Pitt and Michigan State, on there as well

Chris (NYC)

Its pretty obvious that Stull is not the answer for Pitt. Does Wanny figure that out before or after something disastrous happens? (ie, a loss at Buffalo, or to Navy) Is Sunseri any good?

Brian Bennett
  (4:28 PM)

Let's at least give Stull the opportunity to prove he is the answer. Sunseri has a little bit better arm and better wheels, but he's totally unproven. Pretty sure we'll see him early against Youngstown this Saturday.

patrick (reno, nv)

If Nevada upsets the Irish do you think they may potentially start out 0-3

Brian Bennett
  (4:29 PM)

Not sure about 0-3, especially given what's going on at Michigan. But if Nevada wins -- and that's very possible, by the way -- things will be U-G-L-Y in South Bend.

Jake (Honolulu, HI)

But itsn't it also fair to say teams like UW and WSU don't help their (ND) cause either?

Brian Bennett
  (4:31 PM)

Definitely fair. Though it's hard to blame ND for scheduling Washington. Who knew they'd fall off a cliff?

Matt (Middletown NJ)

Can two teams in the BE end with ten wins?

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Sure. I think Rutgers has an excellent chance with that schedule, which could easily give them 5 wins before accounting for conference play. And if someone besides the Scarlet Knights wins the Big East, they will probably approach 10 wins.

Alan (SC)

Do you ever see the BIG EAST adding an 9th or 10th team. Say an ECU or maybe a Villinova

Brian Bennett
  (4:32 PM)

Ever? Definitely. But not in the next year or two.

Andy (Sacramento)

WVU lost 3 games last year by 4 or less points (2 in OT). If they had won all 3, would people still be talking about Bill Stewart being on the hot seat?

Brian Bennett
  (4:33 PM)

Of course not, because if they won those two they would have gone to the BCS. But they also won a couple of close ones against Rutgers and Syracuse. And I don't think Stewart is on the hot seat. Not yet.

jason (nebraska)

whats the best game this weekend

Brian Bennett
  (4:34 PM)

Probably either Oklahoma State-Georgia or Alabama-Virginia Tech, though tomorrow's Oregon-Boise State game might be the most entertaining

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Will there ever be changes with preseason rankings? Granted the big east is down but how can people completely question the league and its BCS status before a snap is even played. IMO, one team, who knows which one, will win at least 10 games this year.

Brian Bennett
  (4:35 PM)

Not as long as people keep eating them up. Remember this is mostly about publicity and interest. It's just a shame that polls actually have a place in deciding who plays for the national championship.

Chris (CT)

Can Rutgers fans please win a conference championship before talking about future league domination? That's all I ask.

Brian Bennett
  (4:36 PM)

Fair point. I love the trash talk

Joseph (Tampa, FL)

In a perfect world where Miami and USF meet-up undefeated, would a USF win give them a shot at the national title? Again, this is a perfect world...

Brian Bennett
  (4:37 PM)

I sincerely doubt it, with two FCS teams on the schedule (and Western Kentucky), the Bulls would likely get passed over by 1-loss teams from SEC and Big 12.

jason (nebraska)

how would you choose who plays for the title do we absolutely need a tournament

Brian Bennett
  (4:38 PM)

I support the plus-one model. Everything's already in place to make it work, and it wouldn't disrupt the regular season or the semester break.

Bret (AZ)

So Nevada COULD beat ND...really going out on a limb there. How bout a prediction.

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

Predictions tomorrow. Can't steal my own thunder.

Bobby (Rhode Island)

Who will be the first Big East team in the Top 25?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

The winner of Monday's game between Rutgers and Cincinnati, unless it's an ugly slugfest.

Will (Tampa)

B-Money, does USF redshirt Giddens because of the great depth at d-line?

Brian Bennett
  (4:39 PM)

I don't think so. He's too good to sit.

Joe (NYC)

Who knew Washington would fall of a cliff? Every single Notre Dame fan the moment they hired Ty.

Brian Bennett
  (4:40 PM)

Ha. Old grudges never die, I see.

Mike (Pittsburgh)

Is the parity in the big east a good thing? MWC people bash our BCS status but next to Utah, BYU and TCU, which team in the MWC could beat big east teams on a regular basis, notwithstanding the cards (I think 'cuse will be better this year...i mean they can't get much worse) and would the conference be better if it was like the MWC?

Brian Bennett
  (4:42 PM)

Mountain West is stronger at the top right now, but the Big East is far, far deeper. Do people really want a BCS conference to include Wyoming, San Diego State and New Mexico? Big East is in a temporary down cycle, but just three years ago, it had three top 10 teams.

Barry ((NJ))

Are you tempted to just bust our the Magic 8 Ball to pick the BE this year? How do you go about making picks when every team seems pretty dead even?

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

All signs point to yes.

Brian Bennett
  (4:43 PM)

That's all I've got time for today, folks. Thanks for all the great questions. Enjoy the first weekend of college football!