Where does UConn fit in Big East standings?
A continuing theme for the blog this summer will surely be the lack of any clear consensus as to how the top of the Big East football standings should look this fall.
The league's defending champ, Cincinnati, lost 10 starters on defense, but returns the league's top throw-and-catch combo in Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard. The three teams who went 5-2 last season -- Pitt, West Virginia and Rutgers -- all lost key offensive leaders but could easily match their success of 2008. USF, returning arguably the league's two best-known players in Matt Grothe and George Selvie, almost certainly has to be better than their disappointing 2-5 league record last fall.
If there's one Big East school that I can't quite place in its correct preseason slot -- OK, there's like six -- it's probably Connecticut, which had four players selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Surely, the loss of that talent will be a lot to overcome, just to have UConn match last year's 3-4 record, right?
Which Huskies were the real Huskies last year -- the ones who beat Cincinnati by 24 points, or the ones who lost at home by 24 to Pitt and 22 to West Virginia? The ones who lost to North Carolina by 26, or the ones who beat a hot Buffalo team by 18 in their bowl game?
I bring this up because an extremely optimistic Huskies fan has posted on Desmond Conner's blog at the Hartford Courant, explaining why he's setting the over-under on UConn's wins at 9.25 this fall. He offers a percent chance for victory in each game, and once you get to UNC -- a 90 percent chance at winning -- you know the glass isn't half-full, it's actually overflowing. The URL reads "how about 925 wins," and it's really just short of that.
A season-ending home date with USF, anyway, is given as a 75 percent chance of victory. He writes:
This is a tough one- USF's recent late-year slides and more clarity on UConn's offence could make this a 100% win by the time mid-November rolls around, but right now you just never know.
I think USF-UConn will be a pivotal game -- the Bulls haven't done well on the road, and certainly not in the cold environment they'll face in December in Connecticut. The league's parity almost ensures this final weekend will have major impact on the final standings -- the same date has Pittsburgh-Cincinnati and Rutgers-West Virginia.
So again, I just don't know where to put Connecticut right now, though my instinct is to keep them at 3-4 in conference, or perhaps pick up a little ground to go 4-3. We'll have to see ...
-- USF volleyball coach Claire Lessinger's page on Twitter.com directs fans to a photo gallery of more than 100 pictures from the Bulls' games in the "Fiesta on Siesta Key" sand volleyball tournament.
-- ESPN.com blogger Brian Bennett, ranking nearly everything in the Big East this summer, has ranked the league's backup quarterbacks, and USF's combo of B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi is good enough to rank third out of eight teams. What you should learn from his list: The Big East has almost no good, experienced backup quarterbacks.