Athlon Releases 2012 Big East Football Predictions

Pitt may have to take down Louisville if they want to win the Big East (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

More preseason college football rankings. Athlon has predicted conference and overall records for Pitt and the Big East.

The Panthers are ranked third by Athlon behind conference favorite Louisville and South Florida. The site predicts a 7-5 overall record for Pitt and a 4-3 conference mark:

Pittsburgh could be the sleeper team to watch in the Big East race. Former coach Todd Graham’s schemes were a bad fit for the personnel in place, and the team was hit hard by bad luck in late October when running back Ray Graham was lost for the season with a torn ACL. New coach Paul Chryst was one of college football’s top offensive minds at Wisconsin and will adapt his scheme to fit quarterback Tino Sunseri’s strengths. There’s no question Sunseri needs to play better, but the Panthers also have to stabilize the offensive line. Defense is usually a strength in Pittsburgh, but six starters are gone, including end Brandon Lindsey, linebacker Max Gruder and defensive tackle Chas Alecxih. The Panthers have a favorable Big East schedule, catching expected frontrunners Louisville and Rutgers in Heinz Field.

Hard to keep up with all of these rankings, but I don't think I've seen Pitt any higher than third so far. Yet Athlon calls it correctly in my mind - Pitt could be the sleeper team to watch. Lots of things have to break their way, but when it comes down to it, they're still playing in a conference that's entirely up for grabs.

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