Big East Football: Syracuse No. 4, Rutgers No. 8 In Pre-Season Media Poll

NEW YORK NY - DECEMBER 30: Da'Mon Merkerson #6 of the Syracuse Orange celebrates victory with team mates after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats during the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on December 30 2010 in New York New York. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The Syracuse football program is less than a month away from beginning its 2011-'12 campaign, and they'll begin this year with a bit higher expectations than last season. On Tuesday, the Big East Conference announced its pre-season media poll, which featured the Orange ranked No. 4 and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the bottom of the list at No. 8.

The West Virginia Mountaineers are No. 1, while the Pittsburgh Panthers and USF Bulls are No. 2 and 3, respectively. Here's the complete rundown:

1. WVU

2. Pittsburgh

3. USF

4. Syracuse

5. Cincinnati Bearcats

6. Connecticut Huskies

7. Louisville Cardinals

8. Rutgers

Like every pre-season poll, fans need to not overreact and take them from what they are. Last season, the Orange were ranked No. 7  in the pre-season rankings, but ended up putting together a very solid season that featured a 8-5 record, a last-season run at the Big East title and a Pinstripe Bowl victory, 36-34, over Kansas State. Plus, the recent news of one of SU's top-offensive weapons, senior wider receiver Marcus Sales, committing a drug felony over the weekend probably didn't help its ranking.  

For Rutgers fans, who saw their team ranked No. 5 in the pre-season polls last year but struggle, they enter this season with one of its best recruiting class in years. Plus, after last season's craziness in the Big East, who knows what will happen as the season progresses.

For more on the Big East Football's Pre-Season Polls check out SB Nation's Big East Coast Bias, which is blogging from media day.

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