2010 Big East Fearless Predictions - Sept. 4
Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin
Pitt WR Jonathan Baldwin
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 30, 2010


It's a big start for the Big East with Connecticut going to Michigan and Cincinnati traveling to Fresno State, but the big one will be in Utah where Jonathan Baldwin and Pitt try to make a huge early statement for conference pride. Check out the Week One Fearless Predictions for all the Big East games.

2010 Big East Fearless Predictions

Week 1 ... Sept. 4 Games

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GAME OF THE WEEK

Pitt (0-0) at Utah (0-0)
Sept. 2, 8:30 ET , Versus

Here's The Deal … In an opening weekend dominated by one-sided, lackluster match ups, Pittsburgh at Utah is the rare offering between ranked schools. The Panthers enter 2010 as the favorite to win the Big East for the first time under Dave Wannstedt. This shapes up as Wanny's best team, boasting star power on offense with RB Dion Lewis and defense with DE Greg Romeus. The supporting cast is up to snuff as well, but untested sophomore QB Tino Sunseri is the "X" factor and the greatest area of concern. After going 10-3 and whipping Cal in the Poinsettia Bowl, the Utes have visions of a third BCS bowl run. There's still the matter of unseating Mountain West favorite TCU, but for now, they're concentrating on making a good first impression in front of the nation. As potential BCS busters go, Utah hopes to gain ground on Boise State and TCU, who also open with major conference opponents.
Why Pittsburgh Might Win: The first test for a Utah defense that lost eight starters, four drafted by the NFL? Slow down Lewis, one of the nation's premier backs. It's an enormous task for a unit that'll be breaking in all new linebackers and safeties. And if the Utes commit too many men to the box, star WR Jonathan Baldwin will make them pay for it over the top. Beyond Romeus, the Panther defense is in excellent shape. Recently reinstated DE Jabaal Sheard creates a ferocious pass rushing bookend, and LB Dan Mason and S Dom DeCicco will cut off lanes in run defense.
Why Utah Might Win: While the Pitt D is tough, the Utes feel it can be solved with a dose of balance and a solid front wall. Jordan Wynn was a revelation at quarterback as a freshman for the program, capping a solid second half with a breakout performance in the bowl game. He gets back top receiver Jereme Brooks and backs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata. After Asiata was lost to a leg injury, Wide went for 1,000 yards in his place. Although Romeus and Sheard aren't your ordinary ends, Utah retains both tackles, including future pro Caleb Schlauderaff on the left side.
What To Watch Out For: Kyle Whittingham always seems to regroup on defense, especially when it comes to stopping the run. With ground-oriented Pitt coming to Rice-Eccles, the Utes can also take solace in the returns of NT Sealver Siliga and DT Dave Kruger to the middle of the line. The pair will look to exploit the interior of the Panthers' line, which will have two new guards and a walk-on center.
What Will Happen: Pittsburgh may be higher ranked, but Utah has a few key advantages that'll be the difference in a close game—home field and the better coach. The half-season of experience for Wynn will also provide an edge compared to Sunseri, who has no way of preparing for the Salt Lake City crowd on a Thursday night. While Lewis will get his yards, Whittingham will design the right gameplan to confuse and slow down a one-dimensional offense.
CFN Prediction: Utah 27 … Pittsburgh 21 … Line: Utah -3
Must See Rating: Season Premiere: Keeping Up with the Kardashians 5 - Eat, Pray, Love 1… 4
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Norfolk State (0-0) at Rutgers (0-0) Sept. 2, 7:30 ET, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … Another season, another cushy September for Rutgers. As steady as the Scarlet Knights have been under Greg Schiano, going to five straight bowl games, the program has been aided by favorable non-conference scheduling. After going a respectable 9-4 and using a lot of fresh faces, Rutgers is still searching for that breakthrough season that propels it to the upper echelon of the Big East conference. Norfolk State is an improving MEAC club that went 7-4 in 2009, winning its final four games. Seven all-stars return from that team, providing hope that Pete Adrian's kids can take another step forward this fall.
Why Norfolk State Might Win: The best weapon for an overmatched team is a legit workhorse, who can control the tempo of a game and keep the other offense pacing restlessly on the sidelines. In DeAngelo Branche, the Spartans have just such a player. As a sophomore, he went for 100 yards five different times and scored 11 touchdowns. He'll be a major asset to the new quarterback, who'll get some good looks at a Scarlet Knight secondary that'll need time to replace CB Devin McCourty. On defense, Norfolk State will look to take advantage of a Rutgers offensive line that couldn't pass protect in 2009 and is replacing three starters.
Why Rutgers Might Win: This is a very tough spot for the Spartans to be breaking in a new quarterback, especially since they have pass blocking issues of their own. The Knights are well-stocked in the front seven, bolstered by linemen Jonathan Freeny, Alex Silvestro, and Scott Vallone. As good as Branche is, he's going to need help at some point from the passing game, a longshot in the face of the Rutgers pass rush. The offense doesn't make the kind of silly mistakes that give weaker opponents life, and QB Tom Savage and RB Joe Martinek are the staples of one of the Big East's best backfields.
What To Watch Out For: If there's a way to get the ball in WR Mohamed Sanu's hands, the Rutgers staff will find it. One of the nation's up-and-coming playmakers, he's a dangerous weapon catching passes, taking direct snaps, and contributing in the return game. Noticeably bigger and stronger than last year's debut, he's ready to become a household name beyond just the Big East.
What Will Happen: As much as any team in the league, Rutgers knows how pummel a speed bag into submission. In games with Howard and Texas Southern last year, it won by a combined score of 87-7. This visit from Norfolk State won't be much different. The Scarlet Knights are far too physical and nasty on defense to be tested past the first 20 minutes. They'll be able to get some much-needed reps for backup quarterbacks Steve Shimko and Chas Dodd shortly after halftime.
CFN Prediction: Rutgers 45 … Norfolk State 0 … Line: No Line
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Stony Brook (0-0) at South Florida (0-0) Sept. 4, 7:05, ESPN3.com

Here's The Deal … The architect is gone. The successor is poised to carry South Florida to new heights. It's going to be strange in Tampa without excitable Jim Leavitt, the only head coach in program history. However, Skip Holtz figures to be an upgrade once he has more time to learn the personnel and get a few more of his players in pads. If the Bulls fail to elevate in the short term, don't finger the new coach, who's inheriting a team with a few more holes than in recent years. Stony Brook figures to hand deliver the coach a comfortable win in his debut in front of an eager Raymond James Stadium crowd. The Seawolves are a rising Big South team, finishing 6-5 after a 2-4 start, and are about to face an FBS opponent for the first time ever.
Why Stony Brook Might Win: In RB Ed Gowins and QB Michael Coulter, the Seawolves have a veteran backfield that'll be the catalyst for the offense. The attack showed increased pop as the season developed, and the line gave Coulter the time he needed to spot open receivers. It catches a break that this will be the first game for a remade South Florida defense replacing seven starters. This is an ideal time to catch the Bulls, before the unit has gotten comfortable with the new system or the new personnel.
Why South Florida Might Win: Dynamic second-year QB B.J. Daniels wants to become a more complete player after leading the team in rushing in 2009. A visit from Stony Brook provides just the right sparring partner. The Seawolves have no pass rush, which will afford Daniels the time he needs to find athletic receivers Sterling Griffin and Dontavia Bogan. With all five starters back from a year ago, the South Florida offensive line will dominate at the point off attack, creating lots of daylight. Quarterbacks have led the program in rushing four straight years, a trend coordinator Todd Fitch aims to end with the help of Moise Plancher and Demetris Murray.
What To Watch Out For: South Florida has been a breeding ground for elite defensive talent for the past few seasons. Even with so many defections, this year will be no different. It's just a matter of who steps up and takes advantage of the opportunity. Two players worth watching closely are DE Ryne Giddins and LB Sam Barrington, a couple of the baby Bulls, who'll be the cornerstones of Mark Snyder's D for the next few seasons.
What Will Happen: It's a new era in Tampa, and even with Stony Brook coming to town, the excitement on opening night will be palpable. In the early part of the season, the offense will be ahead of the defense, leaning on Daniels to be the playmaker and distributor. He'll pile up the numbers and spread the ball around for three quarters, hurting the Seawolves on the ground and through the air.
CFN Prediction: South Florida 48 … Stony Brook 10 … Line: No Line
Must See Rating: Season Premiere: Keeping Up with the Kardashians 5 - Eat, Pray, Love 1… 1
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Kentucky (0-0) at Louisville (0-0) Sept. 4, 3:30 ET, ABC

Here's The Deal … Joker Phillips was a coach-in-waiting before Rich Brooks retired at Kentucky. Louisville's Charlie Strong was just plain tired of waiting for the right program to offer him his first head job. The two rookies debut in the 23rd meeting for the Governor's Cup. Strong is looking to erase all remnants of predecessor Steve Kragthorpe, who guided the program to its worst three-year stretch since the mid-1990s. Although you can clearly win big at this school, the roster reveals that it won't be a short-term rebuilding project. While Strong is new to Louisville, Phillips has been in Lexington since 2003 and knows his personnel on an intimate level. He takes over a program that's been to four consecutive bowl games, three that it won. In a series marked by its streaky nature, the Wildcats are on a three-game run to take control of bragging rights in the Commonwealth.
Why Kentucky Might Win: Strong is going to turn around the Louisville defense, but not this quickly. He has a dearth of talent, depth, and playmakers that the Wildcats plan to exploit. While shaky in the past, and without a firm grip on the starting gig, QB Mike Hartline returns with 21 games of experience and a couple of very talented all-stars at his disposal. Derrick Locke was named to first team All-SEC in the preseason and WR Randall Cobb is one of the country's more versatile weapons. More than just the team's top receiver, he's also a running threat out of the WildCobb … and the best player on either roster for this game.
Why Louisville Might Win: Phillips' biggest concern heading into 2010 revolves around a defense that lost most of its best players to graduation, early departures, and academic suspensions. Stopping the run is going to be especially challenging this fall. Enter Victor Anderson, the lone Cardinal star, who missed most of last season to injury. When healthy, he's a game-changer, with the luxury of running behind a veteran line flush with returning starters. For good measure, Louisville will also turn loose Bilal Powell, a seasoned runner coming off a terrific offseason.
What To Watch Out For: Someone needs to step up, make plays, and provide some leadership on defense for Kentucky in 2010. It's a void the staff feels junior LB Danny Trevathan is ready to fill. Despite playing part of the season with a broken wrist, he still finished second on the team with 82, and could get into double-digits on Saturday, as Louisville tries to exploit cracks in the running lanes.
What Will Happen: As Strong and Phillips both attempt to gain control of the state, from fans to recruits, this is a pretty important opening act for both rookie coaches. With major question marks on both sidelines, it's the kind of game that could set the tone for both schools. While Kentucky is vulnerable, especially on the road, it'll get bailed out by its offensive stars, Locke and Cobb. Both will score in a decisive second half that propels the ‘Cats to a fourth straight win in this rivalry.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 31 … Louisville 23 … Line: Kentucky -3
Must See Rating: Season Premiere: Keeping Up with the Kardashians 5 - Eat, Pray, Love 1… 2.5
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