For the second straight season, the final week of the regular season will determine the Big East representative in the BCS game.
Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati all have a shot. The scenarios are pretty simple to keep straight, but just as a quick refresher for everybody out there:
The Cardinals are in the clubhouse with at least a share of the Big East title at 5-2 in league play. They need Cincinnati to lose to UConn on Saturday to make it to a BCS game. Louisville lost to the Bearcats 25-16 in their Big East opener back in October.
West Virginia needs to win at USF on Thursday night, then hope for Cincinnati to beat UConn. The only shot the Mountaineers have at getting to a BCS game is with a three-way tie atop the standings. The first tiebreaker would be head-to-head among the three. Each would be 1-1 against the other. Next up: BCS standings. West Virginia is the only ranked team at No. 23 this week. If the Mountaineers win, it is reasonable to expect them to remain highest-ranked among the three. Keep in mind that West Virginia has won only once in Tampa, back in 2005. No update yet on the status of USF quarterback B.J. Daniels (shoulder).
Cincinnati needs West Virginia to lose and must beat UConn to get to the BCS. Some have speculated that perhaps Cincinnati would not be emotionally invested in the game if West Virginia wins, knowing it would be a long shot to get a BCS bid in the event of a three-way tie. I should hope that the Bearcats would be motivated to win a Big East championship regardless of the BCS implications -- especially on Senior Day at Nippert Stadium.
No matter what happens Thursday night, the BCS spot will not be clinched until Saturday afternoon. Everything hinges on that Cincinnati game.