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2013 Pre-Preseason Big East Rankings
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater
Posted Jan 21, 2013

The too early look at how good the Big East teams should be in 2013.

CFN 2013 First Look Rankings

Big East

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19

FINAL 2012 Rankings By Conference
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

- 2013 Big East Rankings - No. 6-10

It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, where does everyone stand before Signing Day and spring ball? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2013 based on how good they appear to be at the moment. 
1. Louisville (11-2)

Let the hype begin for the defending Sugar Bowl champions, who’ll spend the offseason basking in the praise after thumping Florida in one of the shockers of the bowl season. Can the team start to dominate in regular season play like it did against the Gators? There were too many close calls against too many mediocre teams, but that could quickly change.

The defense has the potential to be dominant with ten starters returning, only losing corner Adrian Bushell. Linebacker Preston Brown should be a lock for all-star honors, while he end trio of Marcus Smith, Lorenzo Mauldin and Delontrez Mount should be devastating at times.

Of course, the headliner will be Teddy Bridgewater, one of the nation’s most accurate and efficient passers who gets a full offseason to heal up after being beaten and battered late last year. The line is a slight concern with center Mario Benavides and left tackle Alex Kupper gone, but it’s a rising group with good talents to build around. The receiving corps should be the best in the Big East, while running back Jeremy Wright will be in for a good season to balance things out.

2. Rutgers (9-4)

The Scarlet Knights aren’t in the Big Ten quite yet. It’s going to be the narrative throughout the season as the program waits to step up into the bigger league, but first, it would be nice to make a step forward and get into the BCS with a strong final year and a Big East title. The team is in place to do it.

The defense needs to retool and reload in a hurry after finishing fourth in the nation in scoring and sixth against the run. Heart-and-soul playmaker Khaseem Greene and running mate Steve Beauharnais are gone from the linebacking corps, while tackle Scott Vallone leaves a big void inside. Corner Logan Ryan’s early departure for the NFL is hardly a plus for a secondary that already loses safety Duron Harmon and corner Marcus Cooper.

The offense that was so stagnant at times is full of veterans and potential. The line was a major plus – especially in pass protection – and this season it’ll welcome back four starters. Gary Nova is now a seasoned veteran under center, but top target Mark Harrison is done. Even though Jawan Jamison left early, the running game might be fine if Savon Huggins can have a big year.

3. Cincinnati (10-3)

Is Tommy Tuberville ready to produce? He has some big shoes to fill considering Brian Kelly and Butch Jones made winning a habit, but the Big East is easier and the team is talented enough to get into the BCS.

The offense that led the league in scoring and rushing gets back seven starters, but loses tough runner George Winn. The quarterback situation is going to be a fight with Brandon Kay gone. Munchie Legaux will fight for his old job with Patrick Coyne, with the winner getting a solid receiving corps to work with. The line gets all five starters back after a brilliant 2012.

The defense finished 14th in the nation in scoring D, despite giving up 388 yards per game, and now it’s going to take some rebuilding with seven starters gone including both ends and top tackler Greg Blair at middle linebacker. Four key players are gone in the secondary, but corner Deven Drane is back on one side.

4. UCF (10-4)

One of Conference USA’s star programs should make an immediate impact in the Big East. George O’Leary’s club has the athletes and the depth to battle with everyone on the college schedule, but offense needs to find a little more punch.

The passing game was among the most efficient in the old league, and Blake Bortles should be able to bomb away with Rannell Hall and J.J. Worton two good young targets to throw to. The ground game has been the key to O’Leary’s teams, and while Latavius Murray is gone, Dontravius Floyd and pounding Storm Johnson should take over and be fine. The line needs to replace tackle Phil Smith and center Jordan Ray after doing a nice job of pounding away last year.

The pass defense led the Conference USA and the D topped the conference in points allowed. There wasn’t too much of a pass rush, and losing top sacker Troy Davis won’t help. The defensive tackles will be a strength with Thomas Niles and E.J. Dunston two promising tough guys in the interior. Outside linebacker is a concern, but Terrance Plummer is a good one to work around in the middle.

5. South Florida (3-9)

One of the nation’s biggest disappointments last year, new head coach Willie Taggart has a strong team in place to turn things around right away. The offense has to start scoring and the mistakes have to stop, but more than anything else, the Bulls have to find one thing they can do at a high level.

Taggart’s teams can run the ball, but top back Demetris Murray is done, leaving Marcus Shaw to be the main man for the attack. The quarterback situation is hardly settled after Matt Floyd’s rough performance against Pitt at the end of the year, but he’s the most experienced option. The line will be fine in time, and Andre Davis heads a good enough receiving corps to expect a big improvement right away in the passing game.

The defense that was so spotty should be unstoppable up front with Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch combining with Ryan Giddens to terrorize quarterbacks. Top tackler and pass rusher Sam Barrington is gone at weakside linebacker, but DeDe Lattimore is a nice piece to work around in the middle. Corner Kayvon Webster was a good tackler, but he’s finished, making Kenneth Durden the main man on the outside in the veteran secondary. The miserable return game needs a lot more out of Marcus Shaw and Andre Davis.

- 2013 Big East Rankings - No. 6-10