Fantasy nonconference matchups in the Big East
The realities of scheduling means that money, timing, TV, bad blood and recruiting territory sometimes stand in the way of games being arranged.
Phooey to reality. What if you controlled college football for a day and could create any nonconference matchup you wanted? Here are my choices for the fantasy nonleague opponents for each Big East team:
• Cincinnati's fantasy matchup: Ohio State
Easy call here. Sure, the two teams have played 15 times in their history, most recently in 2006. But now that the Bearcats have risen up and become a BCS force to be reckoned with -- not to mention nabbing some Ohio recruits -- the Buckeyes don't seem as eager to take on their neighbors. The teams are scheduled to meet again in 2012, but it should be an annual series.
• Connecticut's fantasy matchup: Boston College
There's no reason why these two Northeast programs located fewer than 100 miles apart shouldn't be playing regularly -- no reason, that is, except for the lingering hurt feelings that stem from BC's defection to the ACC. Time heals all wounds, and eventually these two should resolve their differences on the field.
• Louisville's fantasy matchup: Notre Dame
The Cardinals have been trying for years to reel in the Irish on their schedule and thought they had it done a couple of times. Louisville is heavily-Catholic town just a few hours away from South Bend, and the game would stir a lot of interest in all parts between. Even if it were played in Indianapolis.
• Pittsburgh's fantasy matchup: Penn State
Whatever the reasons are for the death of this series -- and most people point to Joe Paterno's reluctance after Penn State joined the Big Ten -- it's a travesty that Pennsylvania's top two programs haven't played since 2000. This is a game the entire state would talk about for a full year.
• Rutgers' fantasy matchup: USC
My two initial thoughts for the Scarlet Knights' ideal opponents were Penn State (because of geography/recruiting battles) and Miami (because of Greg Schiano's ties there and Rutgers' heavy recruiting efforts in south Florida). But both those schools are actually coming on the schedule in the near future. So let's go with the top team in Los Angeles versus the top New York City-area team for a major metropolitan showdown. Might never happen, but the Scarlet Knights have had preliminary talks with UCLA.
• South Florida's fantasy matchup: Florida
The Bulls got Miami back on the schedule and pulled off their first-ever meeting with Florida State this year. There's only one Sunshine State power left for South Florida to take on. Be careful what you wish for, however.
• Syracuse's fantasy matchup: Tennessee
This is the hardest one to pick, since the Orange have a national scheduling philosophy and play just about everybody. Let's go with the Volunteers, given new coach Doug Marrone's history there and the fact that some Syracuse fans wanted Lane Kiffin to replace Greg Robinson.
• West Virginia's fantasy matchup: Michigan
We just had to go there, didn't we? Sorry, but there's so much animosity between Mountaineers fans and former coach Rich Rodriguez that this matchup would fill reporters' notebooks for months (and provide extra pay for security officers). Besides, the two schools have only played once in their long histories, and that came all the way back in 1904. (The Wolverines won). You can add Virginia Tech and Virginia to the list of teams West Virginia would love to play -- and beat -- too.
Thoe are my picks. Who are the fantasy nonconference opponents for your favorite Big East team?