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Monday, December 8, 2008
Ranking the Big East bowls

Posted by's Brian Bennett

What are the most and least interesting Big East bowls? Let's rank them:

1. FedEx Orange Bowl
No. 12 Cincinnati vs. No. 19 Virginia Tech, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., FOX: OK, so maybe the rest of the nation -- or even the ACC -- isn't captivated by this matchup. If you listened to our bowl podcast this morning, you heard my colleague and ACC blogger Heather Dinich describe this as one of the worst games involving her league. But from a Big East perspective, every BCS game is huge for the little conference that could. Especially when it comes against one of the teams that almost killed the Big East by leaving for the ACC. Even leaving that angle aside, Cincinnati has been a great story and a fun team to watch all season. I expect nothing less than a terrific game in Miami.
2. Brut Sun Bowl
No. 20 Pitt vs. Oregon State, Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS: If Oregon State plays defense like it did against Oregon in the Civil War, Pittsburgh could score 50. Regardless, this game should be a lot of fun. You have the nation's best freshman running back, the Beavers' Jacquizz Rodgers, against the best sophomore tailback, LeSean McCoy. A hungry Pitt team against an Oregon State program always looking for respect. And the Big East can earn some more pride by knocking off the team that nearly won the Pac-10.
3. Bowl
Rutgers vs. NC State: Dec. 29, 3 p.m., ESPN: Yes, it's only 7-5 (Rutgers) vs. 6-6 (NC State). And yes, Birmingham's aging Legion Field is about the last place you'd want to spend a December day. But this is still a matchup between two streaking teams with good quarterback play. I can't wait to see what Mike Teel, Kenny Britt and Co. do for an encore after the Scarlet Knights' amazing regular-season finishing kick.
4. Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia vs. North Carolina, Dec. 27, 1 p.m., ESPN: Will the high-octane West Virginia offense we've seen in bowl games over the years show up? Or will this be the Mountaineers' attack that has continually sputtered to score between seven and 10 points in the first half of games this season? Either way, it will be interesting because of Pat White's final game, and North Carolina's quest to go 3-0 against the Big East.
5. International Bowl
UConn vs. Buffalo: Jan. 3, noon, ESPN2: How many college football fans are going to tune into a Jan. 3 game in Toronto featuring two relatively unknown programs? The Huskies have a star attraction in Donald Brown, while Buffalo is the feel-good story with its first-ever bowl appearance.
6. magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl
South Florida vs. Memphis: Dec. 20, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2: In case you're wondering, magicJack is a device you can plug into your computer, and then your cell phone, to make free calls. And if you're like me, that's the extent of your interest in this game right now. Just kidding. But there's not much to love about a game to be played indoors in a baseball stadium on Dec. 20 between two teams that haven't done much this year.