Big East Bowl Games

Jim Myers- SOR Columnist

Dec 6, 2012

By: Jim Myers- SOR Columnist

 


The bowl season kicks off Dec. 15 with the New Mexico Bowl pitting Arizona against Nevada and runs until the BCS title game on Dec. 7 between Alabama and Notre Dame. Thirty-three of the 35 games are broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC. Five Big East teams qualified for bowl games this season, Pitt becoming the last of the bunch by winning its final two contests. The Panthers are the only team of the five to not win a share of the conference title. Two games feature matchups between former Big East conference members. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of the Big East’s bowl games (all times Eastern).

 

 

 

Dec. 27: Belk Bowl; Charlotte, N.C. (ESPN, 6:30 p.m.)

 

 

Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East) vs. Duke (6-6, 3-5 Atlantic Coast)

 

Duke has home field advantage in this contest played at Bank of America Stadium, home field of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. However, Cincinnati has played in one NFL stadium already this season, defeating Virginia Tech 27-24 at Redskins Stadium in September. UC quarterback Munchie Legaux was supplanted by Brandon Kay late in the season as the Bearcats won four of their last five.

 

Duke started the season 5-1 but lost four straight and five of its final six contests to limp to the bowl season. The turning point in the season for the Blue Devils came Oct. 13 at Virginia Tech when they blew an early 20-0 lead and lost 41-20. Duke’s six losses came by an average spread of 26.7 points. QB Sean Renfree is one of the most accurate passers in the ACC and has completed 64.3 percent of his career throws.

 

This is the first meeting between the schools.

 

 

 

Dec. 28: Russell Athletic Bowl; Orlando, Fla. (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.)

 

Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC)

RU, ranked No. 15 in the initial BCS standings this year, is looking for its third 10-win season in program history while Virginia Tech snapped a streak of eight consecutive years with at least 10 wins. The Scarlet Knights raced out to an 8-0 start this year and were on the verge of the first BCS bid in school history but couldn’t close the deal to end the regular season, dropping their final two contests. They bring one of the nation’s top defenses to the Citrus Bowl but one of the worst offenses. Linebacker Khaseem Greene is the likely Big East defensive player of the year.

 

Virginia Tech was one of the more disappointing programs in college football this year. Expected to contend for the ACC title and ranked as high as 13, the Hokies fell apart with blowout losses at Pitt, North Carolina, Clemson and Miami. Virginia Tech also lost at Redskins Stadium versus Cincinnati on a last-second TD by Legaux. QB Logan Thomas, projected as an early round NFL prospect, didn’t live up to the hype this year behind a suspect offensive line. VT had to pull off an overtime win at Boston College and a narrow victory against rival Virginia in the last two weeks to qualify for the postseason.

 

Virginia Tech leads the series 11-3. This is the first meeting between the schools since 2003, Virginia Tech’s last season in the Big East.

 

 

 

Dec. 29 New Era Pinstripe Bowl (ESPN, 3:15 p.m.)

 

 

Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East) vs. West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

 

This is the other game featuring former Big East Conference foes, albeit one more recent. Syracuse is traveling to Yankee Stadium for the second time in three seasons after winning five of its final six games and claiming a share of the Big East title. The Orange have one of the more prolific passers in Ryan Nassib and scored a resounding 35-24 victory against Louisville on Nov. 10.

 

 

Remember when West Virginia used to be a member of the Big East Conference, all the way back in 2011? The Mountaineers made a splash in their new conference, the Big 12, winning their first five games of the season and rising to No. 4 in the USA today poll before falling back to earth and losing five straight in the middle of the season. There is no D in Mountaineers, something Dana Holgerson’s crew proved week after week with one of the worst defenses in the nation. Six teams scored at least 45 points on WVU this year.

 

Syracuse leads the series 32-27 and won last year’s meeting 49-23.

 

 

 

Jan. 2: Allstate Sugar Bowl (ESPN, 8:30 p.m.)

 

 

Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) vs. Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern)

 

This is a matchup between UL head coach Charlie Strong’s current team and former team. Strong was an assistant at Florida for eight years before taking the helm at Louisville. His Cardinals won the Big East BCS bid after erasing a double-digit second-half deficit at Rutgers on Nov. 29. UL was a top 10 team after a 10-0 start but dropped out of the rankings with losses to Syracuse and Connecticut. QB Teddy Bridgewater, who should be healthy for the bowl game, is eighth nationally in passing efficiency.

 

Florida got into the BCS by way of losing the SEC East. The Gators lost to rival Georgia on Oct. 27 and missed out on the SEC championship game but made it into the Sugar Bowl over the Bulldogs when UGA lost to Alabama in Atlanta on Dec. 1. Florida has a nasty defense that will put pressure on Bridgewater. Though the offense has struggled at times, running back Mike Gilleslie leads an attack averaging 194.5 yards rushing per game that will surely test UL’s suspect run defense.

 

Florida leads the series 2-0, with the last meeting a 31-17 Florida victory in 1992.

 

 

 

Jan. 5: BBVA Compass Bowl (ESPN, 1 p.m.)

 

 

Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-4 Big East) vs. Mississippi (6-6, 3-5 SEC)

 

As the Panthers a good place to eat in Birmingham and they’ll probably be able to tell you, as Pittsburgh is back in this bowl game at Legion Field for the third straight year. Pitt took Notre Dame to the wire before losing in three overtimes and demolished Rutgers in late November, but the Panthers also scored bad losses to Youngstown State and Cincinnati this year. The most mercurial team in the Big East held its final two opponents to nine total points to qualify for a bowl. QB Tino Sunseri passed for more than 3,000 yards this season.

 

Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl Nov. 24 to qualify for the postseason. The Rebels wilted against tough competition this year and suffered through a four-game losing streak before closing out with the victory over their rivals from Starkville. Ole Miss has a strong defensive front that should be able to get pressure on Pitt’s offensive line.

 

This is the first meeting between the schools.