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Monday, December 5, 2011
Big East power rankings

By Andrea Adelson

Time for the final installment of the power rankings until after the bowl games.

1. West Virginia (9-3, 5-2). The Mountaineers won three straight after losing at home to Louisville and got the Big East automatic berth into the BCS after emerging from a three-way tie atop the league standings. Simply put, they found a way to win the close games down the stretch and that got them to the Orange Bowl.

2. Cincinnati (9-3, 5-2). Kudos to coach Butch Jones for leading this team to a Big East championship after a 4-8 season last year. Zach Collaros' ankle injury threw the season off kilter for a game and a half and cost the Bearcats a spot in the BCS.  Though they aren't going to South Florida, this team was impressive at times this season and takes pride in its accomplishments this year.

3. Louisville (7-5, 5-2). What an impressive end to the season for the Cardinals, who finished 5-1 after a 2-4 start, including a win at West Virginia. They were not able to get to a BCS game, but this team might have been playing the best football of all the Big East teams at the end of the season.

4. Rutgers (8-4, 4-3). Coach Greg Schiano also led his team back to a bowl game, but the memory of a 40-22 loss at UConn that cost his team a share of the Big East title lingers on.

5. Pitt (6-6, 4-3). The Panthers became bowl eligible on the final day of the season to at least salvage what has been a disappointment to date. It is safe to say nothing went as planned this season.

6. UConn (5-7, 3-4). The Huskies followed up a BCS berth without making a bowl in 2011. They never won consecutive games, and that inconsistency cost them a shot at another postseason bid.

7. USF (5-7, 1-6). Is there any bigger disappointment in the Big East than USF? The Bulls completed their first losing season since 2004 and produced their worst record ever in Big East play. They lost five close games and that was the difference between a winning season and a losing one.

8. Syracuse (5-7, 1-6). The Orange also disappointed, losing five straight to end the season after their win over West Virginia. This is a year removed from making a bowl game.