Big East: Five big games

There are plenty of important games in the Big East this season. But what are the five biggest? Let us take a look:

USF at Notre Dame, Sept. 3. An upset of the No. 16 ranked Irish in Week 1 would certainly send a message that the Big East came to play this season. Especially if it comes at the hands of Skip Holtz, whose father, Lou, won the last national championship for Notre Dame in 1988.

Syracuse at USC, Sept. 17. The Big East only has three games against ranked nonconference teams this season, so they all are big when you are looking for some national respect. USC is No. 25 in the AP poll, and though the Trojans are suffering through NCAA imposed sanctions, they have some major talent, including quarterback Matt Barkley. A win here would get plenty more love for the job Doug Marrone has done in rebuilding the Orange program.

LSU at West Virginia, Sept. 24. This one looks big today, with West Virginia getting a huge chance to beat an SEC team at home. The Mountaineers need the Tigers to be undefeated in order for this game to take on even bigger national importance. The bottom line is the Big East needs to win as many impact national games as possible, and this is the biggest on the nonconference schedule.

Pitt at West Virginia, Nov. 25. This one should have a huge impact on the conference title race. West Virginia was picked to finish first in the Big East preseason media poll; Pitt was picked to finish second. Both are going to be running hurry-up spread style offenses. Key point to remember -- there have been upsets in six of the last nine meetings between the two rivals.

West Virginia at USF, Dec. 1. If West Virginia and USF are as good as people believe they will be, this could be a defacto league championship game. West Virginia has only won in Tampa one time, when the teams met for the first time in 2005. USF pulled upsets in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Remember, the Mountaineers will be going into this game on six days rest rather than a full week after playing their emotional rivalry game with Pitt.