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College Football '98
Big East:
Climbing the mountain

by Albert Lin, CNN/SI

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 1998

Donovan McNabb
McNabb is a threat to run or throw. He had 20 TD tosses in '97 against only six interceptions.   (Al Tielemans)
 
Projected Order
of Finish
1. West Virginia
2. Syracuse
3. Miami
4. Boston College
5.Virginia Tech
6. Temple
7. Pittsburgh
8. Rutgers

Offensive Player of the Year
Amos Zeroue, RB, Jr., West Virginia
Shifty runner should continue to put up huge numbers (1,589 yards, 18 TDs in 1997) as part of an offense that returns eight starters.

Defensive Player of the Year
Gary Stills, LB, Sr., West Virginia
Pass-rushing terror with 12 sacks among his 67 tackles, despite missing time with three injuries (sprained knee, broken thumb and fractured kneecap).

Newcomer of the Year
Brandon Williams, RB, Fr., Pittsburgh
Said no to Notre Dame, Ohio State, Syracuse and UCLA; should get plenty of handoffs in empty Panthers backfield.

Coach on the Hot Seat
Terry Shea, Rutgers, 0-11 in 1997
A 2-20 record in his first two seasons, replacing Temple as league doormat, puts Shea in the fryer.

Conference Game-Breaker
Donovan McNabb, QB, Sr., Syracuse
Two-time Big East offensive player of the year can do it with his arm (2,488 yards, 20 TDs) or his legs (404, 6).

Most Underrated Player

Terry Murphy, WR, Sr., Pittsburgh

his JC transfer led the Big East in receiving yards per game (79.4) and touchdown catches (13), making 46 grabs for 873 yards, but was only second-team all-conference.

Best Name
Peppi Pichette, DT, Sr., Temple
Runner-up: Osa Nosa, DT, Fr., West Virginia

Toughest Schedule
Syracuse (Tennessee, at Michigan), Miami (UCLA, Florida State) and Pittsburgh (Penn State, at North Carolina) each have a pair of killer non-conference matchups, but the edge goes to the Orangemen, who must travel to the Big House.

Creampuff Schedule
West Virginia opens with Ohio State in Morgantown, but then come three gimmes—Maryland, Tulsa, at Navy. The showdown with Syracuse is also at home.

Red-Letter Games
Ohio State at West Virginia, Sept. 5
A good early measuring stick for Mountaineers.
Syracuse at Michigan, Sept. 12
Orangemen could be 0-2 after this one; will they be able to bounce back?
Syracuse at West Virginia, Nov. 7
Should decide the conference title.

Drop This Name to Make Yourself Sound Smarter at the Water Cooler
David Saunders, WR, Sr., West Virginia
Set school record with 76 catches (for 1,043 yards) in 1996, then blew out his knee before last season, during which fellow senior Shawn Foreman broke his mark by one.

Going Bowling
Locks: Syracuse, West Virginia
Maybes: Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech
No Way: Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Temple

Top Three Storylines
Undefeated again?

West Virginia probably won't duplicate its 1988 and 1993 regular-season records of 11-0, since Ohio State opens the schedule, but the Mountaineers could run the rest of the table and take a Top 10 ranking into their bowl.

Exploding oranges

Syracuse's multi-faceted offense—featuring QB Donovan McNabb, FB Rob Konrad, and WRs Quinton Spotwood and Kevin Johnson—should make defensive coordinators cringe.

Picking up the pieces

Will the West Coast offense finally kick in down at the State U. of New Jersey and help the Scarlet Knights win a game?

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