While a radio station in KC is being mocked for being the latest to breathlessly report “sources” indicating that the Big Something has made offers to Nebraska (already denied by Nebraska’s chancellor), Rutgers, Mizzou and ND, I’m going to focus on something a little more realistic — preseason prognosticated rankings.
Yes, I’m setting the bar low.
No mystery here. The Panthers will give the ball to sophomore RB Dion Lewis, who ran for 1,799 yards on 325 carries (only Stanford’s Toby Gerhart had more with 345). Lewis is the nation’s leading returning rusher and will get into the mix for the Heisman. There are a lot of starters to replace (six on offense, seven on defense) but I’m picking Pittsburgh to win the Big East.
Dennis Dodd at CBS Sports, updates his top-25 preseason pickings and moves Pitt from 24th to 20th. Yippee.
Preseason mags seem to be stepping back a bit from trying to get their mags out first this year. No early May publications, but Athlon — usually one of the first — is releasing their top-25, one per day, until releasing the mag in June. Pitt clocks in at #18.
The Panthers find themselves among the best of the best once again, underscoring the success of coach Dave Wannstedt’s rebuilding project. No longer is he simply hoping for success. Now, it’s a matter of how much. In 2009, Pitt was within a quarter of a BCS berth. Don’t be surprised if they get there this time.
They also like Lewis for Heisman candidacy.
And since it is never too early to start laying money on games (so I’m told), Covers.com looks at some of the best games to start the college football season.
Pittsburgh at Utah, Thursday, Sept. 2
Dave Wannstedt’s Panthers are the favorites in the Big East. Sophomore Tino Sunseri takes over at quarterback for Bill Stull and has a pair of NFL-caliber weapons at his disposal in running back Dion Lewis and wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin. The offense, however, struggled in the spring.
Utah returns quarterback Jordan Wynn, a sophomore who won the starting job midway through last season. Wynn passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the Utes’ bowl win over Cal. The Utes slipped into Sports Illustrated’s preseason rankings at No. 25, one of only two Mountain West teams in top 25.
Pittsburgh will be the higher-ranked team, but traveling across the country for a Thursday night game in what will be a raucous environment won’t be easy.
Projected line: Utah -3
No question, the winner of that game gets a lot of bounce coming out of the first week.