As unfair as it might be, someone from the Big East is going to be playing in a BCS bowl. While fans in East Lansing, Mich., gnash their teeth, I’ll venture that West Virginia squeaks its way into the Orange Bowl.
Or could it be the Fiesta?
ESPN.com Big East blogger Brian Bennett is capable of sorting out the chaos a hell of a lot better than I, so I’ll leave many of the details to him. I’ll just say this: If the Mountaineers, who currently do not hold the tiebreaker over Connecticut, defeat lowly Rutgers to finish the Big East season 5-2, their past BCS successes will do them good, leaving UConn to settle for the Champs Bowl should it lose its finale.
If the Huskies win, the scenario could be reversed, opening up the possibility that the Meineke Car Care Bowl, third in the Big East’s selection order, could lay claim to either South Florida or Pittsburgh.
My bet is on the Bulls, who with a win Saturday over UConn would finish 8-4, including wins in five of their last six games, and stand out as an appealing choice to play at nearby Charlotte.
On the other side of the coin, you have the ACC, where spots have to be first filled in the Orange, Chick-fil-A, Champs Sports, and Hyundai Sun bowls. That could spell doom for some seemingly more-deserving squads from the ACC, which might get passed over by some conference brethren with lesser records, because bowls often factor in the potential for higher ticket sales when making selections.
That criterion could conceivably allow 7-5 North Carolina to grab a spot more befitting of an 8-4 Maryland, which suffered through low attendance figures this season.
The Bulls and Tar Heels may not make for the sexiest of games, but the numbers indicate a close call. In the seven-team Big East, South Florida ranks no higher than fourth in any major statistical category. If that sounds like a bland recipe it is.
But keep in mind that in the only-slightly-stronger ACC, the violation-ridden Tar Heels place no higher than third, including a very modest seventh in overall defense.