Earlier today, I highlighted five games in which the Big East could earn respect by winning. Now it's time to look at the flip side of that.
If beating the sport's big boys gains you credibility, then losing to teams people expect you to beat can damage it. Here are five games for which the Big East should be on high upset alert.
Cincinnati at Fresno State, Sept 4: The Bearcats have more talent than Fresno State. Still, traveling across three time zones and playing the first game under a new coaching staff on the road against a solid non-BCS program is fraught with peril. The Bulldogs will be looking to earn their own respect by knocking off the two-time defending Big East champs.
Connecticut at Temple, Sept. 18: The last time UConn ventured to Philly to take on the Owls, they had to go to overtime in sloppy weather conditions to escape two years ago. Temple is on the rise under Al Golden and would love to beat a team from the league that kicked them out of the BCS club.
Memphis at Louisville, Oct. 9: Speaking of the BCS club, Memphis is desperate to gain entry and still smarting that the Cardinals were among three former C-USA brethren to earn Big East invites instead of the Tigers. Louisville's talent is not so much better that it can take this or any game for granted.
Syracuse at Akron, Sept. 4: The Orange lost to Akron two years ago at home and took a while to shake free of the Zips last year in the Carrier Dome. Now they have to go on the road for the opener, which is always a tricky proposition. Ask UConn, which had to struggle past Ohio last year in another opener on MAC turf.
Maryland at West Virginia, Sept. 18: The Terrapins were putrid last year, and if they haven't improved drastically then this game should not be close. But it arrives just one week before the Mountaineers' trip to LSU, so the danger of looking ahead exists. Besides, Maryland can't actually get any worse, can it?
Others: Cincinnati at NC State (Sept. 16); Vanderbilt at Connecticut (Oct. 2); Louisville at Arkansas State (Oct.2)
Now that I've filled your head with negative thoughts, let's end on something positive. I did a similar list last preseason, and the Big East won every one of the games I highlighted as possible upsets. In fact, in the entire 2009 season, there was only one nonconference regular season game that I would call a true upset: Pitt at NC State. The Big East needs to keep that trend going.