What to watch in the Big East: Week 13

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
10:15
AM ET
Here are the top story lines to watch in the Big East headed into Week 13:

1. BCS berth on the line. It is conceivable for the Big East to find out its BCS representative after this weekend. Rutgers can clinch if it beats UConn, and Louisville and West Virginia lose; Louisville can clinch if it beats USF, and Pitt and Cincinnati lose. As has been widely discussed, five teams have hopes of getting into a BCS game. Four of them have a chance to win out -- West Virginia and Pitt play each other Friday night, and one will most likely be eliminated from contention. Unless, of course, everybody loses and there ends up being a six-way tie for first. Yes. That is possible.

[+] EnlargeWest Virginia defense
Charles LeClaire/USPRESSWIREWith Pitt and West Virginia changing conferences, the future of the Backyard Brawl is uncertain.
2. Final Backyard Brawl? Much has been made about the potential for this to be the final Backyard Brawl. Pitt will be leaving the Big East for the ACC; West Virginia will be leaving for the Big 12. This is a series that began in 1895, and the two teams have played every year since 1943. This has developed into one of the most heated rivalries in the nation, and game that generally has major implications and plenty on the line. So let's hope the two schools and figure out a way to keep this game alive as a nonconference matchup every year.

3. Dana Holgorsen vs. Todd Graham. The two coaches exchanged all the necessary pleasantries this week when they were asked about their turbulent past, when Graham was at Tulsa and Holgorsen was at Houston and Oklahoma State. Both said everything is fine between them; they respect each other; they are great coaches. But the drama between them in the past certainly adds a juicy subplot to an already heated rivalry game. Hopefully nobody tries to pull the ol' Jim Harbaugh back slap when the game ends.

4. Will B.J. Daniels play? Daniels bruised his shoulder in a loss to Miami last week, and now a backup quarterback could determine what happens to the Big East. Coach Skip Holtz is preparing Bobby Eveld to start against Louisville on Friday morning. Remember, the Cardinals win a share of the Big East title if they beat the Bulls. You can bet the Cardinals would welcome facing the backup quarterback with their conference title hopes on the line.

5. Tampa voodoo. It's no secret that Louisville has had a difficult time winning in Tampa. Louisville is 0-4 in Tampa, and has lost by an average margin of 21 points. In fact, Raymond James Stadium is the only road venue in which the Cardinals are winless. Coach Charlie Strong has addressed this fact with his team, but he has to work doubly hard this week to keep his team focused on the Bulls and not a potential BCS berth.

6. Munchie redux. It's no secret that Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux struggled in his first start last week against Rutgers, as the Bearcats tallied their fewest yards since 2005. Coach Butch Jones said he was going into the game against Syracuse on Saturday with Legaux as his starter, but opened up the competition during the week in order to help push Legaux. Backup Jordan Luallen might see game action. This is the third straight season Cincinnati will face Syracuse with its backup quarterback.

7. Syracuse after the bye. The Orange have lost three straight, and are hoping their bye week has given them a chance to fix what has gone wrong. They have been unable to run. Ryan Nassib has not been nearly as accurate, and the offensive line has not blocked particularly well. Syracuse has not won a game since Oct. 21. Back then, Louisville was 3-4 and Syracuse was 5-2. My how fortunes have changed. The Orange are fighting for bowl eligibility; the Cardinals are fighting for a BCS berth.

8. Rutgers goes for first title. The Scarlet Knights have a shot at clinching a share of their first Big East title, and becoming the first team in league history to go from worst to first. The only other time Rutgers played its final regular-season game with Big East implications was in 2006. The Scarlet Knights ended the 2006 regular season with a 41-39 triple overtime loss at No. 15 West Virginia as they finished the season 5-2 in the league and tied for second.

9. UConn bowl hopes. The Huskies need to win out in order to become bowl eligible, a year removed from representing the conference in the BCS. The past three games against Rutgers have been close, and the Scarlet Knights have won them all. In fact, seven of the past nine meetings have been decided by a touchdown or less. This is the final home game of the season for the Huskies, and the question is how are they going to slow down a suddenly powerful Jawan Jamison and super receiver Mohamed Sanu?

10. Next to 100 tackles? Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene is the only Big East defender with more than 100 tackles -- a total of 114 through 11 games. Max Gruder of Pitt has 90 and JK Schaffer of Cincinnati has 89 as the two try to reach the 100-tackle mark this weekend. If Schaffer gets 11 tackles, he would have 100 for the third straight season. That would make him the fourth player in Big East history to accomplish that feat.

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