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Big East bowl projections: Week 8

10/23/2011

The Big East is a free-for-all and well, my bowl projections have turned into a free-for-all, too. This is how I am projecting the season ending, but these projections are subject to change week to week. If any of you have figured out how this ride is going to end, I would love to hear what you think.

BCS, Discover Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. ACC. The Bearcats are in control of the league race as the only 2-0 team. Does that mean they are going to run the table and win out? I think there is going to be a slip up somewhere, but I also think every team in the league will have at least one conference loss. Cincinnati does get West Virginia at home, but also has three road games left, including at Syracuse on Nov. 26.

Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame. Still going with the Irish here. I had projected 9-3 for the Irish when the year started, but now I think they go 8-4 (loss to Stanford). Remember, the Champs Sports Bowl can take Notre Dame once in a four-year cycle provided it is 7-5 or better. I think it is going to be a tough break for Syracuse, which I would slot here if the Irish were a non-factor.

Belk Bowl: West Virginia vs. ACC. The Mountaineers were exposed in a loss to Syracuse, and must fix serious weaknesses on the offensive and defensive lines, and their inability to play a complete game. Two weeks ago, I boldly predicted they would run the table in conference. Now I think there is the very real possibility they drop one more in league play. I always urge caution when trying to project out the rest of the season because Syracuse was only one game. We have to try and remember what got West Virginia to No. 15 in the first place. But there are a few teams left on the schedule that traditionally cause the Mountaineers problems.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs. Big 12. The Scarlet Knights will eventually become bowl eligible, and this is the perfect fit -- especially since Syracuse played here last year. The bowl would not want a repeat team.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Syracuse vs. SEC. These bowl projections have made it hard to put Syracuse higher for a few reasons: Notre Dame and geographic factors. Though Syracuse beat West Virginia, I think the Belk Bowl would take the Mountaineers because they are closer and travel better; Pinstripe would go with Rutgers for the reason stated above. I think Syracuse is going to finish strong, but with Notre Dame still a factor my first opening for the Orange is right here. Remember, this is for this week. If Notre Dame goes 7-5, I think Champs goes with the best available Big East team. But an 8-4 Notre Dame team might be hard to pass up for the folks in Orlando.

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: USF vs. Conference USA. This one is a toss-up right now between the Bulls and the Panthers. Both are going to have a tough time becoming bowl eligible from here on out. USF has a very difficult schedule ahead; Pitt has played terribly. I think both do become bowl eligible, and USF lands here because it is next door to home.

At-large: Pitt. I still believe the Panthers will get to six wins, but they are going to have to win three of these five games: UConn, Cincinnati, at Louisville, at West Virginia and Syracuse.

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