Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Big East Is Back!

When the preseason polls came out, back in late August, there were a total of 0 teams from the Big East ranked in either poll-- AP Poll & Coaches Poll. This week there are 3 Big East teams in the Top 25-- No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats (7-0), No. 15 Pittsburgh Panthers (6-1) and No. 21 West Virginia Mountaineers (6-1). This is good news for Cincinnati and their national title hopes because both Pittsburgh and West Virginia remain on their schedule as ranked teams.

The Bearcats are 1 of 7 remaining unbeaten teams and 1 of 4 who unfortunately don't control their own destiny. Only #1 Florida, #2 Alabama and #3 Texas can safely say, they have their destinies in their own hands. If they win out, they'll be in the national title game.

It's quite possible that along with Cincinnati-- the No. 7 Boise State Broncos (7-0), the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes (8-0) and the No. 6 TCU Horned Frogs (7-0) will go undefeated and have nothing to show for it. But that's life in college football.

Boise State has the best chance of the 4 of going undefeated. Their remaining opponents (all division rivals) have a combined record of 19-24, with Idaho (6-2) being their only (tough) challenge left. Yes, Idaho. And in the world of college football this may be a dagger for the Broncos because their strength of schedule component is going to take a beating the rest of the way.

TCU is in the same boat as the Broncos. Their remaining opponents (all division rivals) are a combined 16-20. The one bright spot is a Nov. 14 showdown with No. 16 Utah. Coincidentally, Boise State plays Idaho on the same date, but the Horned Frogs have the tougher opponent in Utah, which can be good or bad. The good news-- if they beat Utah, they'll most likely leapfrog Boise State in the polls and separate themselves from the Broncos in the BCS standings. A TCU win over ranked Utah weighs much more than a Boise State win over Idaho. The bad news is-- Utah is no slouch and can defeat TCU, eliminating them from any conversation.

Then there's Iowa. On Saturday, Iowa won a thriller at Michigan State, 15-13, scoring a touchdown on 4th and goal with .02 seconds left, thus remaining unbeaten. The Hawkeyes are set up nicely, playing 3 of their remaining 4 games at home against 3 very winnable opponents. Their only tough challenge is a Nov. 14 date at Ohio State. If the Hawkeyes can find a way to win at OSU-- they will certainly hold on to their No. 4 ranking in the BCS standings.

Cincinnati-- by virtue of the Big East being viable again has greatly improved their chances. The Bearcats play West Virginia on Nov. 13 and Pittsburgh on Dec. 5. If they win both games, it would put them in an excellent position by virtue of beating two ranked opponents.

All this may sound confusing-- I know. Let's put it more simple-- if Texas beats No. 14 Oklahoma State next week and runs the table, the Longhorns will play in the national title game against the SEC champion. No question about it!

That was easier to say-- and much less to write. : - )

Photos courtesy of the AP

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