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HOW THEY'LL FINISH
PLAYERS TO WATCH Top performers from unranked teams in the conference
Donald Brown, RBCONNECTICUT
The 5' 11",214-pound back had an instant impact with the Huskies as a redshirt freshman in'06, turning in dazzling performances against Rutgers (199 yards, twotouchdowns) and Pittsburgh (205 yards, two scores).
Terrill Byrd, DTCINCINNATI
The 6' 1",270-pound junior, who was voted first team All-Big East, was the vital cog in aBearcats defense that relied more on speed than power to rank in the top 25nationally against the run last season.
Matt Grothe, QBSOUTH FLORIDA
An adeptscrambler, the 6-foot, 200-pound passer was named Big East freshman of the yearin 2006 after he threw for 2,576 yards and rushed for 622 more. He is one of 20returning starters from a team that went 9-4 last season.
Jameel McClain,DE SYRACUSE
Now a senior, the6' 1", 256-pound pass rusher was moved from linebacker to defensive endbefore his junior season and led the Big East in sacks, with 9 1/2. He shouldmerit All-America consideration.
Oderick Turner,WR PITTSBURGH
After catching 44passes for 660 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman, he'll play an evenbigger role in the offense with the loss of Derek Kinder to a season-endingknee injury in the team's first full-squad workout.
TOP OFFENSIVEPLAYER Brian Brohm, QB, Louisville
The senior hasranked in the top 10 nationally in pass efficiency for the past two seasons andcould be the top pick in the NFL draft next April.
TOP DEFENSIVEPLAYER Eric Foster, DT, Rutgers Often described as the heart and soul of adefense that ranked fourth in the country last season, the senior had six sacksand 14 tackles for loss.
TRUE FRESHMAN TOWATCH Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia The ultrafast Florida native could be aplaymaker as a slot receiver and return man.
COACH ON THE RISESteve Kragthorpe, Louisville He's coming off a four-year stint at Tulsa duringwhich the Golden Hurricane, 2-21 in the two seasons before his arrival, went tothree bowls.
COACH ON THE HOTSEAT Greg Robinson, Syracuse
He has won justone conference game in his first two seasons, and the immediate prospects lookbleak.
SLEEPER SouthFlorida Coach Jim Leavitt's start-up program (the Bulls are beginning justtheir seventh season in Division I-A) has knocked off Louisville and WestVirginia in the past two seasons.
Linebacker WILLIEWILLIAMS, the once-infamous Miami recruit, is now enrolled at Louisvillefollowing a brief juco stint at West Los Angeles College. He will have twoyears of eligibility remaining and is expected to challenge for a starting job.. . . West Virginia raided conference foe South Florida for two of itsassistants, offensive line coach GREG FREY and quarterbacks coach ROD SMITH.Frey replaces the highly regarded Rick Trickett, who left for Florida State;Smith played quarterback for Mountaineers coach RICH RODRIGUEZ at GlenvilleState in the mid-'90s. . . . Cincinnati quarterback DUSTIN GRUTZA, a starterfor the past two seasons, will have to fight off Wake Forest transfer BEN MAUKto keep his job. Mauk is believed to be a better fit in the no-huddle spreadoffense of new coach BRIAN KELLY. . . . Pittsburgh coach DAVE WANNSTEDT iscounting on highly touted freshman LESEAN MCCOY of Harrisburg, Pa., tocontribute immediately. McCoy, a top¬†10 running back in the high schoolclass of 2006, originally committed to Miami before spending a year at prepschool. Another highly ranked Panthers recruit, quarterback PAT BOSTICK ofLancaster, Pa., could also play as a freshman.
Darrell Walker/UTHM/Icon SMI (Cheerleader)
Garry Jones/AP (brown)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images (Byrd)
William E. Amatucci Jr./WireImage.com (Grothe)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images (Mcclain)
Mark S. Hawkins/icon smi (Turner)
Kevin C. Cox/WireImage.com (Leavitt)