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Big East mailbag, Part I

Thanksgiving is only 48 hours away. I can already taste the turkey and stuffing. Mmm ...

But it's not time to phone it in yet, because there's still plenty of work to do. Including answering your e-mails. Lots of good questions this week, and we won't have a regular Friday mailbag because of the holiday and the early games that day. So I'll do a two-parter today, beginning here:

Michael from Fort Worth, Texas, writes: I just wanted to say I love your blog. I probably update my browers ever 30 minutes just to see if you have any new updates. My question to you is is there a chance that WVU could play in the Gator Bowl? I thought maybe if WVU wins out and Pitt losses to Cincy that WVU would get the Gator Bowl bid?

Brian Bennett: Keep on refreshing, Michael. (Actually there are easier ways to find out if there are updates, including ESPN.com's Big East Twitter feed). Anyway, so many permutations still exist in the Big East bowl lineup with two weeks left. I think West Virginia would go to the Gator Bowl in your scenario, finishing with the same 9-3 record as Pitt with a head-to-head win. And the Mountaineers would bring more fans.

The Big East still needs Notre Dame to lose to Stanford, though. Don't rule out the Gator Bowl reaching for a 7-5 Irish team and burning all bridges.


Bobby from Clifton, N.J., writes: As always, you speak the truth. You've been awfully harsh on Rutgers the past 36 hours. Unfortunately, they deserve it after that last game. Anyway, here's my question: wouldn't Rutgers deserve better than the International Bowl if they were to win against Louisville AND WVU? As ludicrous as winning both games (especially the latter) sounds in the wake of the Syracuse beat-down, this team certainly has some schizophrenic qualities. For that matter, Rutgers under Coach Schiano has always been unpredictable ... as your pre-season ranking can attest.

Brian Bennett: First, let's all agree to remove the word "deserve" from our lexicon for the next several weeks, because deserve has very little to do with bowl selection. Agreed? OK, good.

As I said earlier, there are a lot of ways this can go. The problem as I see it right now lies in the International Bowl. UConn went last year, and generally bowls frown on repeat matchups (and generally, Big East fan bases frown at having to go to Toronto at all, much less two straight years). No one else really makes much geographic sense except Rutgers. How many tickets would South Florida sell to the International Bowl? Three?

I think Rutgers could end up as high as the Meineke Car Care Bowl and as low as the International Bowl. We'll have to wait and see how the next two weeks play out.


Shane from Dayton, Ohio, writes: OK, so after looking at BCS standings it seems to me that Cincinnati could possibly make it to the national championship with a win against Pitt. It would take a lot but they are already ahead of Texas and TCU in the computer polls, so if they were to jump TCU in the human polls how close would it need to be for them to jump Texas in the BCS?

Brian Bennett: I don't see any way Cincinnati jumps Texas as long as the Longhorns don't lose. The difference in the human polls will simply be too great. The Bearcats have a chance to pass TCU and get in position in case of a Texas loss, but our BCS guru Brad Edwards thinks they'll have to make up some ground in the polls to do it. Which means more voters putting Cincinnati ahead of TCU, and which probably means Pitt has to beat West Virginia and the Bearcats have to beat Pitt in impressive fashion.

My head hurts.


Dan from Dover, Penn., writes: Notre Dame lost a shocker to UConn in South Bend. As I watched the game I wondered to myself, how would the Irish do if they played in the Big East? They are now 0-4 against Big East opponents in the past two years. I know it's a slim to none chance of Notre Dame going to the Big East in football, or any conference but how do you think the Irish would do in the Big East?

Brian Bennett: Well, let's try to map this out, considering only this season. The Irish have already lost to Pitt and UConn, two of the top four teams in my Big East power rankings. I'd say they'd lose to Cincinnati, and probably West Virginia. But I'd like the Irish's chances against Louisville and Syracuse (despite last year's loss to the Orange in South Bend), and give them either South Florida or Rutgers. That would put them at 3-4 in the Big East. I know this: every game would be close.


Jonathan from Storrs writes: I've got a different take on Notre Dame and the Big East. Maybe they are an independent because, like Temple, they aren't competitive with the Big East teams (0-4 in past three years). With all of the losses that they will have after this season, they might want to consider a couple of years in the MAC where they and Temple can beat up on the opposition. You think they will keep scheduling easy Big East wins for Senior Day moving forward?

Brian Bennett: I have no response, except to laugh. Nice job, Jonathan.