2.) Rutgers -- Rutgers finally has a multi-year starter at quarterback in Gary Nova, who showed flashes of elite play during an inconsistent sophomore season. The Scarlet Knights return four starting offensive linemen, the best wide receiver in the conference – Brandon Coleman – and are a year away from the Big Ten.
Rutgers has to answer big questions in its defensive secondary and running game and, after losing to Bridgewater at home last year, face the Cardinals on the road on a short week. Two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene is not easily replaced, neither is 1,000-yard rusher Jawan Jamison.
3.) Cincinnati -- The Bearcats always find a way to exceed expectations and finally have an answer at quarterback after Tony Pike's departure long ago. Brendon Kay returns as an experience senior, capable of managing the Bearcat offense efficiently. Quarterback inconsistencies slowed Cincinnati the last two seasons and there are plenty of unknowns going into year one of the Tommy Tuberville era.
4.) UCF -- Central Florida is the most established program of the new additions to the conference. Quarterback Blake Bortles is a major weapon that led the Golden Knights to a 10-win season with 3,059 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. George O'Leary has a ton of coaching experience and enough firepower to compete with any team in what is expected to be a high-scoring conference.
5.) USF -- The Bulls are improving since their coaching change and have one of the top athletic defensive lines in the area – comparable to Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie's line. USF has a history of strong starts in non-conference play but has yet to get over the hump in later months, especially playing in the cold like the season-finale at Rutgers.
6.) Houston -- The Cougars are bound to dish out plenty of hurt in the passing game, but what else can they bring to the table in year one? Houston finished 11th in the NCAA in passing offense in 2012. Houson pressured the quarterback well defensively, which could be the wildcard in pushing for a spot in the top portion of the conference.
7.) SMU -- Quarterbacks are the name of the game and the Mustangs have a good one in Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert. Gilbert had 23 total touchdowns in his first on-field year with SMU but does not have a lot around him and there are holes to fill defensively.
8.) Temple -- The Owls got off to a surprise start last season with Chris Coyer handling quarterback duties. Rutgers handed Temple a 35-10 loss that sent the Owls in a downward spiral and led to Coyer moving to skill positions. Temple has a new head coach, Matt Rhule, a new quarterback and exciting players like Khalif Herbin on special teams. The Owls could be a surprise team this year and Rhule is off to a solid start before coaching his first game. Temple, however, may be another recruiting class or two from being truly ready for BCS-level football.
9.) Connecticut -- The Huskies always bring an impressive defense, but sent a ton of its top talent to the NFL in 2012 and need to reload. UConn lost major talent in the secondary and a highly productive tight end to the pros. Paul Pasqualoni has questions at quarterback and needs a bounce-back season from Lyle McCombs in the running game.
10.) Memphis -- The move up in conference play is expected to be a rough adjustment for the Tigers. Memphis finishes behind the Owls, which have a year of experience against the better half of the conference and some young weapons.