U of L is a +190 favorite to win Big East
Odds to win the Big East per 5Dimes
Championship – None (Tiebreaker is the first team selected by the BCS)
South Florida +325
How to read the odds
Bet $100 to win $190 on Louisville
Bet $100 to win $550 on Pittsburgh
Bet $100 to win $1,250 on Syracuse
After winning five of its last six regular-season games to garner a share of the Big East title in Charlie Strong’s second season, Louisville has been installed as the plus-190 ‘chalk’ to win the league in 2012. The Cardinals return six starters on each side of the ball, including sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 64.5 percent of his throws for 2,129 passing yards as a true freshman.
Bridgewater will have to improve on his 14/12 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but that’s to be expected in his second year as a starter. According to multiple reports, the six-foot, three-inch Bridgewater has added about 20 pounds of muscle to his frame.
With just seven league games, Big East schools have five tilts on their non-conference slates. U of L opens with arch-rival Kentucky at Papa John’s Stadium in Derby City and it will also host Missouri St. and North Carolina. The Cardinals will play back-to-back road games at FIU (revenge game) and at So. Miss.
Louisville gets USF, Cincy, Temple and UConn at home, but it plays at Pitt and at Rutgers in what’ll be a cold-weather game on Nov. 29.
South Florida raced out to a 4-0 start in 2011, including a season-opening win at Notre Dame as a double-digit underdog. However, the Bulls lost seven of their last eight games and were left out of the postseason picture for the first time since 2004.
USF returns an experienced group as 29 of the 44 two-deep players are juniors or seniors. QB B.J. Daniels has 33 career starts under his belt and is a dual-threat QB that had to deal with injuries galore to his WRs in 2011.
Nevertheless, Daniels, a product of Tallahassee Lincoln’s powerhouse prep program, threw for 2,604 yards with a 13/7 TD-INT ratio. He also rushed for 601 yards and six scores.
Skip Holt’z squad has three big non-con challenges: at Nevada, vs. Florida St. and at Miami. In terms of Big East foes, the Bulls host Rutgers (hot-weather game – 9/13) and Pitt, but they play at Louisville and Cincy (cold – 11/23).
I’m not sure why Cincy has the third-shortest odds in the conference, especially after losing LB J.K. Schaffer, QB Zach Collaros and stud RB Isaiah Pead. The Bearcats return only 11 total starters.
Rutgers looks attractive at plus-440 odds even though Greg Schiano departed to take the head-coaching gig with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The work done by Schiano over more than a decade at RU demands a statue of his image be erected ASAP.
New coach Kyle Flood was able to keep together a recruiting class that ranked in the Top 25 nationally. There’s plenty of talent on the roster, but the Scarlet Knights’ success will boil down to their QB play. Chas Dodd and Gary Nova will fight it out in August for the starting spot.
RU has a brutal non-conference game at Arkansas which falls the week after its Big East opener at USF. If the Knights can win in Tampa, they could be in the title mix when they close the regular season at home vs. Louisville.
Pitt is going through yet another coaching change with Todd Graham bolting to Arizona St., replaced by former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, who likes to play smashmouth football with the running game. That’s good news for workhorse RB Ray Graham, who was en route to a monster year before getting injured midway through 2011.
QB Tino Sunseri will be in his third offensive system in three years. How well he adjusts will be pivotal for the Panthers, who host Va. Tech and travel to Notre Dame in non-con action.