Ranking the Big East bowl games

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
9:00
AM ET
Colleague Mark Schlabach has ranked all 35 bowls from best to worst. Let's do the same here, among Big East bowls.

What's at stake? The Big East's perfect 3-0 record against the SEC, in two separate games. Its 4-4 record against the ACC has the chance to go either way with two more games on deck. And there's a battle of old Big East rivals in the Big Apple.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Louisville (10-2, 5-2 Big East) vs. Florida (11-1, 7-1 SEC)
Jan. 2, ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans

Charlie Strong gets to face his former employer at the site of his final game as the Gators' defensive coordinator, three years ago. Louisville's Florida-heavy roster faces a Gators team that is among the heaviest of favorites this bowl season, something its 104th-ranked offense will be tasked with living up to, while its fifth-ranked defense tries to slow down Teddy Bridgewater.

New Era Pinstripe
West Virginia (7-5, 4-5 Big 12) vs. Syracuse (7-5, 5-2 Big East)
Dec. 29, ESPN, 3:15 p.m. ET, Yankee Stadium, Bronx, N.Y.

The Orange's final win of the 2011 season was a 49-23 upset of the Mountaineers. Now WVU is in the Big 12, coming off an inaugural campaign that saw it average more than 518 yards of offense per game … and surrender nearly 470 yards per game. Syracuse enters having won five of its last six to clinch a share of the Big East crown in its final season. It can knock off a former Big East rival as its last official act before its ACC move.

Russell Athletic Bowl
Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Rutgers (9-3, 5-2 Big East)
Dec. 28, ESPN, 5:30 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.

All the Scarlet Knights had to do was win one of their final two games to clinch the Big East's BCS bowl berth and the program's first outright Big East title, but it dropped both, capped with a crushing home collapse against Louisville. Can Kyle Flood get his team together after still winning a share of its first conference crown? By that same extension, how do Logan Thomas & Co. respond after seeing its stretch of eight straight 10-win seasons go up in flames?

Belk Bowl
Duke (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs. Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2 Big East)
Dec. 27, ESPN, 6:30 p.m. ET, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

The Blue Devils are bowling for the first time since 1994, snapping the nation's longest drought. But is that all for them? They lost their last four games after clinching postseason eligibility. The Bearcats, meanwhile, are coming off a share of their fourth conference title in the last five years and are aiming for another 10-win season. Butch Jones, however, has visited other programs with openings and could leave Cincinnati without a head coach in postseason play for the second time in four years.

BBVA Compass
Pitt (6-6, 3-4 Big East) vs. Ole Miss (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
Jan. 5, ESPN, 1 p.m. ET, Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

The Panthers? Here again? Ho-hum. At least this time they can use the postseason as a springboard into next season, as they will finally have the same head coach for more than one season. (They will, right?) The Rebels, too, are looking to continue building under a first-year coach in Hugh Freeze.

Matt Fortuna | email

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