Athlon makes its Big East predictions

So far, we have seen Big East predictions from Phil Steele and College Football News.

Athlon is up next.

The pick: Louisville and USF are co-champs, but the Cardinals win the head-to-head matchup between the two and make it to the BCS. Here is how Athlon sees the Big East shaking out:

1. Louisville (10-2, 5-2)

2. USF (8-4, 5-2)

3. Pitt (7-5, 4-3)

4. Rutgers (8-4, 4-3)

5. Cincinnati (7-5, 4-3)

6. Syracuse (5-7, 3-4)

7. UConn (5-7, 2-5)

8. Temple (5-7, 1-6)

Here are some interesting points Athlon makes that I think are really valid:

On Rutgers: "With a new coach and two new coordinators, Rutgers might be the biggest mystery team in the Big East." I have Rutgers and Syracuse as my two biggest mystery teams. Many people, myself included, were projecting Rutgers to win the Big East in 2012 right after last season ended. But a coaching change and quarterback uncertainty has made folks back off. Rutgers should still be in the top tier in the league, but there is plenty of uncertainty about what we are going to see.

On Pitt: "Pittsburgh could be the sleeper team to watch in the Big East race." I have actually heard this from a few Big East coaches. My ESPN.com colleague Christian Fauria has picked Pitt to be his dark horse this year. IF the running game is as good as anticipated; IF Tino Sunseri can manage the game; IF the offensive line improves; and IF questions are answered in the front seven, Pitt will have as good a shot as anybody to win the league. But those are a lot of ifs.

On UConn: "If the offense is better, the Huskies should easily improve upon last year’s five wins." I have been saying this for quite some time. Check that video with Fauria above. I think UConn will have a good enough defense to make it back to a bowl game. If there is solid play at quarterback and along the offensive line, the Huskies will be a near lock to make it to a bowl.