NCAA Football

Big East Football Power Rankings for 2013

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First Big East Power Rankings Of 2013

First Big East Power Rankings Of 2013
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

It's a good thing Louisville isn't heading to the ACC this season because the Big East needs the Cardinals to carry the torch in a league that for all practical purposes is on life support.

Sure 10 teams will compete in the conference this fall making it the largest membership in the Big East's 23 seasons of football, but it really hurt the league's clout when Boise State and San Diego State opted to return to the Mountain West before ever playing a game in the Big East.

Even without the Broncos and Aztecs, new teams dot the 2013 Big East football landscape as four new teams from Conference USA - Central Florida, Houston, SMU, Memphis - will now call the Big East home, while Syracuse and Pittsburgh exit for the ACC.

Unfortunately for the Big East, the infusion of new blood, won't help how the conference is perceived compared to the other power conferences.

Simply put, the Big East is lacking quality teams. It's pretty much Louisville and everyone else as the Cardinals are expected to run away with their second straight conference crown and have a very good shot at returning to a BCS game.

We know Louisville is the class of the Big East, but where do the other nine schools stack up?

Lets find out as we unveil Big East Football Power Rankings for 2013 Power Rankings!

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No. 10 - Temple Owls

No. 10 - Temple Owls
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Owls turned to the NFL to replace Steve Addazio, who left for Boston College.

New York Giants assistant Matt Rhule, who played at Penn State, is Addazio's successor.

Rhule will try and restore the Owls winning ways as they endured a 4-7 season in 2012 after three straight winning seasons.

Winning in Rhule's first year, however, won't be easy as there is a lot of work to be done.

It will be interesting to see if Rhule keeps Chris Coyer, who needs to improve, as the No. 1 quarterback.

Perhaps an even more pressing question is finding a running back to replace Big East-leading rusher Montel Harris, who averaged 105 yards per game in 2012.

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No. 9 - SMU Mustangs

No. 9 - SMU Mustangs
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Coach June Jones Mustangs might have suffered more key personnel losses than any other Big East team.

Among those departing includes running back Zach Line, who ranked among Conference USA leaders and a trio of good defensive players.

Without Line, it's a must that returning quarterback Garrett Gilbert have a good senior year after throwing as many interceptions as touchdown passes last fall (15).

As a result, SMU will be hard pressed to stay out of the league's basement after going 7-6 last season.

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No. 8 - Memphis Tigers

No. 8 - Memphis Tigers
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers ended last season on a high note, winning three straight to finish 4-8 and have plenty of experience returning (17 starters).

One of those starters returning for Coach Justin Fuente is quarterback Jacob Karam.

Karam's task will be to try and get one of the nation's worst offenses producing respectable numbers. Memphis averaged 318 yards per game in 2012 to rank tied for 110th in the FBS.

If the offense isn't any better, winning four games this time around will be a reach.

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No. 7 - South Florida Bulls

No. 7 - South Florida Bulls
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulls will usher in a new era as Skip Holtz was fired and Willie Taggert, who made a name for himself as a player and coach at Western Kentucky, will try to get USF back on track.

The Bulls suffered through an agonizing 2012 season, going 3-9 overall and a mere 1-6 in Big East play.

As its record would indicate, USF has a lot of issues that need addressed beginning in the spring. Taggert's job is anything but easy as he needs to find help on defense, at quarterback and at running back.

This is a team that wasn't good on offense or defense so it goes without saying that Taggert will need time to turn things around.

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No. 6 - Houston Cougars

No. 6 - Houston Cougars
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Like Central Florida, the Cougars are making the jump from Conference USA to the Big East and hope to make a big splash after suffering through a tough first season under Tony Levin after Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M.

Houston will be as good as running back Charles Sims is. After leading the Cougars in rushing in 2011, he ran for 851 yards last season to rank third in the league. He's also a threat in the passing game.

If Sims has another good year, Houston could turn its 5-7 season from a year ago into a winning season this time around.

In addition to Sims, keep an eye on cornerback Trevon Stewart, a freshman All-American, who needs to help a defense improve from a unit that allowed 36 points a game last year.

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No. 5 - Connecticut Huskies

No. 5 - Connecticut Huskies
Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

If it can improve its record in close games in 2013, Connecticut could be a sleeper in the Big East.

This is an important season for Coach Paul Pasqualoni after his Huskies missed the postseason for the second straight year with a 5-7 record.

Playing seven home games should help as should a new offensive coordinator who looks to improve an offense that was one of the worst in college football last season.

UConn might be better than most people think with the return of quarterback Chandler Whitmer and running back Lyle McCombs.

The defense was good enough to win with last season, but will the offense pull its weight?

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No. 4 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights

No. 4 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Had it not been for a fourth-quarter meltdown, the Scarlet Knights would early be heading into the 2013 campaign on a high note.

However, Rutgers' nine-win season certainly didn't end the way it wanted it to as it fell in overtime to Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl as the Scarlet Knights blew a 10-0 fourth-quarter lead.

This team will be hurt by running back Jawan Jamison opting to leave for the NFL. His decision means quarterback Gary Nova must be better than he was in 2012 when he threw 22 touchdowns passes and was picked off 16 times.

What's troubling about Rutgers is it has a lot of questions that need to be answered, especially who will fill the void left on a defense that lost its biggest playmakers.

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No. 3 - Central Florida Knights

No. 3 - Central Florida Knights
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Knights join the Big East from Conference USA after an impressive 2012 season that saw them finish 10-4 overall, 7-1 in Conference USA, which tied for the league title.

George O'Leary's team capped things off with a convincing win over Ball State in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

UCF hopes it can return to the postseason in 2013, but that won't even be a possibility if it loses its appeal to the NCAA this month after being hit with a one-year postseason ban.

If things work out in the Knights favor, Blake Bortles could have them making some noise in their new conference. After all, the quarterback thew for 25 touchdowns, completing nearly 63 percent of his passes while being picked off just seven times last fall.

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No. 2 - Cincinnati Bearcats

No. 2 - Cincinnati Bearcats
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Tuberville inherits a good Bearcat program from Butch Jones, who departed for Tennessee.

Tuberville has a nice nucleus to build around after UC won 10 games in 2012, including a win in the Belk Bowl over Duke.

The Bearcats should have the Big East's best offensive line and got a big boost when both quarterback Brendon Kay and stud middle linebacker Greg Blair were granted sixth years from the NCAA.

Tuberville left Texas Tech for a reason. He knew the cupboard was far from bear in the Queen City.

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No. 1 - Louisville Cardinals

No. 1 - Louisville Cardinals
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Strong's Cardinals are so good they could compete for any conference championship in 2013.

This is a team that has the personnel to compete for the national championship as just about every starter returns from an 11-win team that beat No. 3 Florida by double digits in the Sugar Bowl.

Strong showed his loyalty to the school that gave him a head coaching job by turning down an offer to be Tennessee's head coach and staying at Louisville.

Strong's reasons for staying are many. He knows he's going to have a good team, a very good team. One that will be in the preseason top 10.

If quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who will be a Heisman Trophy candidate, plays like he did against the Gators, look out.

Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.