Big East Power Rankings: Preseason
A season ago, Temple was one of the powerhouse programs in the Mid-American Conference. Now, the Owls are a rebuilding member of the Big East. The loss of key players and the step up in competition will make things tough for an Owls team looking to win at least eight games for the fourth consecutive season.
I do believe Temple will post another winning season, though. I have the Owls going 6-5 and finishing in sixth place in the league.
However, my opinion of the Owls and where they will finish could change from week to week. That's why this is the first of what will become weekly Big East power rankings.
These rankings are for the preseason and through Week 1. Check back on Sept. 3 to see where the teams are positioned heading into the second week of the season.
Here’s a look at my preseason power rankings:
Skinny: Anything less than a conference championship would be a subpar season for No. 25 Louisville. Sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is arguably the conference's best player. The Cardinals also lost just two starters from a defense ranked 10th nationally against the rush and 23d in total defense.
Skinny: Linebacker Khaseem Greene, last season's co-defensive player of the year, anchors a defense that allowed the fewest points (18.3) and total yards (311.5) in the conference last season. He’s just one of returners on a Scarlet Knights defense that is expected to give conference opponents fits.
3. SOUTH FLORIDA
Skinny: South Florida looks to bounce back from a rough conference campaign. Returning 15 starters should help.
Skinny: As Wisconsin's offensive coordinator, new Pittsburgh coach Paul Chryst oversaw an offense that averaged 39.3 points over the last three seasons. Before suffering a knee injury in the eighth game of last season, running back Ray Graham was the nation's second-leading rusher with 134.1 yards per game.
Skinny: Cincinnati, which owned a share of last season's Big East title, is expected to take a step back. The Bearcats must replace running back Isaiah Pead (2011 conference offensive player of the year), defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (conference co-defensive player of the year), and quarterback Zach Collaros (two-time all-conference selection).
Skinny: Fans on North Broad Street are convinced the Owls will contend for a Big East title this season. The only problem is that Temple returns just eight starters from last season’s squad. The Owls might be a season away from having a chance to become a conference power.
Skinny: Folks in Connecticut are hoping that coach Paul Pasqualoni's second season erases the bad memories of his first. A lot could depend on sophomore running back Lyle McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards last season.
Skinny: This could be a make-or-break season for coach Doug Marrone. Entering his fourth season, he has a 17-20 record at his alma mater.