In an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.
OTP Conference Preview: The Big East
It’s been an interesting half decade for the Big East Conference. They’ve endured movement, transition, compression, expansion, potentially losing their BCS bid, and the slings and arrows from any midmajor conference that wants a place at the BCS automatic qualifying table. Suffice to say the Big East is usually under a microscope, but fans point to the newly brought in teams and their growing success as one of the best things about the conference.
In 2004, Virginia Tech and Miami bid the Big East adieu with Boston College to follow in 2005. That cleared the way for Louisville, USF, Cincinnati and Connecticut, whom all have had their share of ups in the Big East. No one has exhibited the sort of dominance Miami did (9 championships in 13 seasons and 2 national titles) and conference parity has certainly made conference games late in the season ridiculously important. This year is certainly a down year for the Big East, as there is no real dominant teams, no real dominant players, and no one in the hunt for a national championship. That may not make for a national eye on the conference, but it will make for an exceptionally exciting fall.
Last 5 Conference Champions:
2007: West Virginia/Connecticut
2005: West Virginia
Bowl Tie Ins:
The Big East Conference has seven bowl tie ins, up to six of which will choose a Big East school in any given year.
#1- Bowl Championship Series. The Big East champion receives an automatic berth to a BCS bowl game. Unlike other conferences with automatic BCS qualifiers, the Big East champion is not tied to any specific BCS bowl, but is available to be selected by any BCS bowl game as the top-ranked “at-large” selection.
#2- The Gator Bowl and the Sun Bowl each have the right to the second selection from the Big East. The Gator Bowl has first choice between the second Big East selection and the fourth Big 12 selection. Should the Gator Bowl choose a Big 12 team, the second selection from the Big East falls to the Sun Bowl. The Gator and Sun Bowls also have the option of selecting Notre Dame, as long as Notre Dame is bowl eligible and not playing in a BCS bowl.
#3- The Meineke Car Care Bowl receives the third choice of Big East teams.
#4- The International Bowl receives the fourth choice of Big East teams.
#5- The PapaJohns.com Bowl receives the fifth choice of Big East teams. In years where the Big East does not have five bowl eligible teams, the Papajohns.com Bowl will select from the Sun Belt Conference instead.
#6- The St. Petersburg Bowl receives the sixth choice of Big East teams. In years where the Big East does not have six bowl eligible teams, the St. Petersburg Bowl will select from the Sun Belt Conference instead.
Alan’s Big East Predictions
Order of Finish:
Cincinnati: 9-3 (6-1) – League Champion, BCS Representative
Pittsburgh: 8-4 (5-2)
West Virginia: 8-4 (5-2)
South Florida: 8-4 (5-2)
Connecticut: 6-6 (3-4)
Rutgers: 6-6 (2-5)
Syracuse: 3-9 (1-6)
Louisville: 3-9 (1-6)
League MVP: Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati
Offensive MVP: Matt Grothe, QB, South Florida
Defensive MVP: Greg Romeus, DE, Pittsburgh
Biggest Surprise This Season: The biggest surprise in the Big East this season will be the resurgence of Tony Pike as a great option at QB for the Bearcats. He’ll need to be for the Bearcats to win another BCS title… as the UC defense and their lack of experience may very well cause Pike and the offense to have to simply outscore everyone.
Edge’s Big East Predictions
Order of Finish:
Pittsburgh: 10-2 (6-1) – League Champion, BCS Representative
West Virginia: 10-2 (6-1)
Rutgers: 9-3 (5-2)
Cincinnati: 8-4 (5-2)
South Florida: 5-7 (2-5)
Louisville: 4-8 (2-5)
Connecticut: 4-8 (2-5)
Syracuse: 2-10 (0-7)
League MVP: Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
Offensive MVP: Noel Devine, WVU
Defensive MVP: George Selvie, USF
Biggest Surprise This Season: West Virginia has it locked up until week 13 when Pittsburgh takes away their conference champion hopes and their top 25 ranking. And the Wannstache does not call the next day like he promises.