The Cincinnati Bearcats, after finishing 4-7 in their initial season as a member of the Big East, look to get back to a bowl game in their second season. The Bearcats were 4-4 with 3 games remaining last year until they collapsed and lost their final 3 games, missing the post season. Although the Bearcats should be much better in ’06 than they were in 2005, their schedule is very difficult, with games versus Ohio State, Virginia, West Virginia and Louisville. If the Bearcats don’t play drastically better this year, it could be another long season.
The Connecticut Huskies, which had a tough season under Coach Randy Edsall last season, look to improve in 2006 and be a contender in the Big East. The Huskies had an injury plagued season in 2005, as quarterback Matt Bonislowski missed four games, all of which UConn lost. If UConn can find a way to stay healthy in 2006, it could be a very successful season in Storrs.
The Louisville Cardinals are undoubtedly one of the front runners of the Big East heading into the 2006 season. With quarterback Brian Brohm coming back from a knee injury he suffered at the tail end of 2005, the Cardinals are very excited about their chances in 2006. They will have one of the most potent offenses in the country again this season, and if they can stay healthy across the board, Louisville will defiantly compete for the Big East championship.
The Pittsburgh Panthers, who finished a disappointing 5-6 under Coach Dave Wannstedt last season, need to improve across the board in 2006 if they want to be one of the big dogs in the Big East in 2006. The Panthers return quarterback Tyler Palko, who throughout his career has shown signs of greatness but has had trouble showing consistency. If Palko can lead this team with efficiency and effectiveness, the Panthers can once again become one of the greats in the Big East.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights, one of the most rapidly improving football programs in the country, are now expecting to make the post season each year. The Scarlet Knights reached the post season and had their first winning season since 1992 last season, and anything short of the post season this year would be considered a disappointment. Although Rutgers lost record-setting quarterback Mike Hart, they have a roster that is packed with tons of talent and depth. If this talent can gain some experience quickly, Rutgers will be back to a bowl game once again.
The South Florida Bulls, who finished the 2005 season an even 6-6, look to improve that mark in 2006 and reach a bowl game once again. Although the Bulls ended their 2005 season with three straight losses, their .500 record was good enough to get them into a bowl game. The Bulls are losing the school’s all time leading rusher, Andre Hall, and they still don’t have a starting quarterback. If South Florida can figure out its roster problems quickly, then it looks to be a very successful season in 2006.
The Syracuse Orange, who have all but fallen off the college football map, need to make some drastic changes in 2006 if they want to get anywhere near the level they enjoyed in the mid 1990’s. The Orange went a dismal 1-10 in Greg Robinson’s first season as head coach. Although it is next to impossible for Syracuse to improve enough to reach a bowl game in 2006, if the Orange can gain some confidence, the program will be on the rise once again.
The West Virginia Mountaineers, which were the surprise of the nation in 2005, have nothing but confidence going into the 2006 season. West Virginia concluded that 2005 season with an impressive Sugar Bowl win over heavy favorite Georgia. The Mountaineers return many of their starters from that team, including quarterback Pat White and sensational running back Steve Slaton. If the Mountaineers can stay healthy and fill some void spots, they will make a BCS appearance for the second year in a row.