As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will continue its Big East schedule at Cincinnati on Saturday, Nov. 3.
MAJOR TURNOVER: Cincinnati coach Butch Jones and company captured a share of the Big East title last year, in part by relying on quarterback Zach Collaros and running back Isaiah Pead. Pead was masterful, earning the 2011 Big East Conference Offensive Player of the Year award after leading the conference with 1,259 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. Collaros was also solid, throwing for 1934 yards and 15 touchdowns before breaking his ankle. The duo are gone now, leaving a huge hole in the offense. QB Munchie Legaux, who filled in for Collaros in 2011, gets the nod under center, while George Winn, Jameel Poteat and Ralph David Abernathy IV, who all played sparingly behind Pead will share the running duties.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: The Bearcats will still be competitive in the Big East thanks to a defense that returns several key parts from last year. The Bearcats averaged 3.5 sacks per game, second overall in the country, and 20.3 points, good for 20th in the NCAA. Returning defensive linemen Dan Giordano and Walter Stewart were a big reason for that, combining for 11 sacks. Still, losing defensive tackle and 2011 Co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year Derek Wolfe hurts.
PREDICTION: Legaux had entered last season’s game against Syracuse 27 of 59 for 363 yards with two interceptions and zero touchdowns. He woke up against the Orange defense, throwing for 169 yards and a pair of TDs in a 30-13 win at the Carrier Dome. That will be a recurring story line this season, as the Bearcats pick up another Big East win. BEARCATS 30, ORANGE 17.