The race for the Big East championship is about as confusing as the future of the beleaguered BCS conference.
With just a week remaining in the season — and maybe not much more for a conference that is being poached again — the Big East is on the verge of a four-way tie.
In a watered down league, no team wanted to step up and take control. Not Charlie Strong’s Louisville with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, and not Rutgers who is ready to leave or the Big Ten.
On Saturday, those two programs lost games they should have won — Louisville falling to Connecticut 23-20 in three overtimes and Rutgers getting crushed by Pittsburgh 27-6.
Now Rutgers controls its own destiny. If the Scarlet Knights beat Louisville Thursday night then the drama is over and Rutgers will represent the Big East in a BCS bowl.
It starts to get interesting if the Cardinals win and then Cincinnati wins at UConn on Saturday then we get the four-way tie with Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati and Syracuse. Don’t be shocked if this actually happens.
The 7-5 Orange must sit at home and wait for the outcome. No matter what happens, though, Doug Marrone’s team is heading off to the ACC on a positive note. Pitt won’t factor into the championship, but a win over South Florida this week and the Panthers will become bowl eligible at 6-6.
Despite being the weakest BCS conference for about a decade now, the Big East has not enjoyed an outright champion since Cincinnati won back-to-back crowns in 2008 and 2009.
Last year, the Bearcats tied atop the standings with West Virginia and Louisville and the Mountaineers earned the Orange Bowl berth. In 2010, it was Connecticut, Pittsburgh and WVU with the Huskies going to the Fiesta Bowl.
The Big East, a conference with an identity crisis, really didn’t need so much confusion at the top of the standings. Big East honchos would probably prefer Louisville or Cincinnati to be the BCS representative since those two are still “committed” to being in the league. Of course, each one is a phone call from the Big 12 or ACC from leaving.
No matter the outcome this week, whichever team represents the Big East in the BCS will be the weakest team since Pittsburgh in 2004.
With a “playoff” on the horizon and an emphasis being placed on conference champions, the Big East really needs a program to step up and become more consistent and more dominant.
If Boise State remains committed to joining next season then it may happen right away. Today, though, the Big East’s tussle at the top is interesting, but it won’t register too much on the college football radar this week.