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THE FAVORITE South Florida rose as high as No. 2 in the BCS rankings before a three-game losing streak brought the Bulls back to earth. Coach Jim Leavitt has a veteran team that returns 16 starters, including 10 to an offense that averaged 34.7 points per game last season. Quarterback Matt Grothe leads the way. The Bulls have the speed, talent and depth needed to dethrone West Virginia and capture a BCS berth.
THE HOPEFULS Despite a messy divorce that made West Virginia and ex-coach Rich Rodriguez look bad, the Mountaineers aren't going to exit the national stage. Bill Stewart takes over a team stocked with talent. Pittsburgh looks poised for a breakthrough season for Dave Wannstedt, and Greg Schiano should have another strong team at Rutgers.
GAMES TO WATCH USF at West Virginia, Dec. 6
Pittsburgh at USF, Oct. 2
Rutgers at USF, Nov. 15
West Virginia at Pittsburgh, Nov. 28
PLAYERS TO WATCH Offense | Pat White, QB, West Virginia
Defense | George Selvie, DE, USF
|1. South Florida||5. Rutgers|
|2. West Virginia||6. Cincinnati|
|3. Pittsburgh||7. UConn |
|4. Louisville||8. Syracuse|
RUNNING BACK Tony Dorsett was a four-time all-American who led Pittsburgh to the national title in 1976. He led the nation in rushing that year with 1,948 yards and won the Heisman Trophy. He finished his career with a then-record 6,082 yards.
Dorsett was elected to the college and pro football halls of fame.
RUNNING FORWARD A pair of sophomores will steal the show for the league this year: West Virginia's Noel Devine and Pittsburgh's LeSean McCoy. The speedy Panther could battle with West Virginia quarterback Pat White for conference player of the year honors.