Who raises Cane? Safe to bet against Rutgers

August 13, 2002 12:16 PM
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Any discussion of this year’s Big East Conference race has to begin with last season’s national champion.

But enough about Rutgers.

Just kidding. Time to issue the yearly Hurricane warnings. Miami is ready and willing to defend.

The Jersey Shore figures to get swept away again after Miami handed Rutgers a 61-0 pasting and eased past Temple 38-0. Outside of a miracle 26-24 victory at Virginia Tech, the Canes produced one of the most dominant seasons in recent NCAA memory.

QB Ken Dorsey led an offense that was held under 30 points just twice and averaged a remarkable 33-point victory margin. Miami was the only unbeaten team in the land and saved the BCS bacon.

This year will be tougher. The Canes had five players chosen in the first round of the NFL draft. Not many teams can recover from that hit.

Dorsey is back and there is still plenty in the tank.

But with a non-conference slate that includes Florida, Florida State and Tennessee, chances are Miami’s 23-game unbeaten streak will end before reaching 30.

The Canes are still the overwhelming favorite to win the Big East, but it won’t be a slam dunk like last year.

Virginia Tech had its own graduation loss, but still has enough in the closet to make a run.

Our choice to push Miami hard is Boston College, even with All-American RB William Green now part of the NFL. The Eagles have 16 returning starters and a passer in Brian St. Pierre (2,016 yards, 25 TDs) who can play in Dorsey’s neighborhood.

Pittsburgh is an interesting team, having won six straight games down the stretch. But the loss of All-American WR Antonio Bryant will be felt. Bryant was bothered by a leg injury most of last year, but when healthy the Panthers did not lose.

The Panthers, though, figure to take a step back along with Syracuse. The Orangemen have a nasty schedule features games with BYU, North Carolina, Auburn in the first month of the season.

West Virginia will come calling with Avon Cobourne, who at just 5-foot-9, 190 rushed for over 1,000 yards for the fourth straight year. Don Nehlen is a quality coach and should have the Mountaineers back in a bowl game.

As for Temple and Rutgers, forget it. Temple plays at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia, which has been good to the Owls (4-2 ATS in last six games). But opening the year with consecutive games against Oregon State, Miami and South Carolina is not good for team morale.

What can we say about Rutgers that hasn’t been scribbled on some bathroom wall? Maybe losing 61-0 to Miami is forgivable, but 80-7 to West Virginia?

The Scarlet Knights pride themselves as being the State University of New Jersey. What they are is a sorry state of affairs. We strongly recommend taking the OVER in any game Rutgers plays.

LVSC  

 RATINGS

College  

 Odds Rank

Miami, FL  

 6-1  

 T-3

Virginia Tech  

 35-1  

 T-17

Boston College  

 60-1  

 T-33

Field (all others)*  

 40-1 ””

*””West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple..