The time has come for my preseason bowl projections. I can tell you that my notepad looks like chicken scratches because I have redone these about 10 times. This is never an easy assignment because there are so many variables to consider, from win-loss record, to geography, to previous bowl appearances.
Then you throw Notre Dame in the mix. I agree with Brian Bennett's projection, which has Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl. I just do not see a BCS bid this year with that schedule and continued uncertainty at quarterback. That takes away a valuable spot for a Big East member.
I have seven Big East bowl-eligible teams with five open spots. That means two are going to have to get an at-large berth without a Big East tie-in.
West Virginia is my preseason pick to win the Big East, so the Mountaineers get the BCS spot. The rest is completely up in the air.
Also, keep in mind the Big East does not go by order of finish in the conference. Bowls are allowed to pick whomever they desire, in consultation with the league office.
BCS, Orange Bowl: West Virginia versus ACC
Belk Bowl: Louisville versus ACC. I would have had USF in here, but the Bulls played in this game last season. This is a good geographic fit.
Pinstripe Bowl: Pitt versus Big 12. I put the Panthers here for geographic purposes more than anything. I have them finishing second in the league. With the Champs Bowl unavailable, it made the most sense to put them here. The league does not like to have repeat appearances in consecutive years, so that is why Syracuse is elsewhere.
BBVA Compass Bowl: USF versus SEC. The Bulls finish No. 3 in my final Big East standings, but the loss of the Champs Sports Bowl to Notre Dame sends them here. I just do not see the Belk Bowl two straight years.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl: Syracuse versus C-USA. Make it two in a row for the Orange.
At-large: Cincinnati, Connecticut. I have Cincinnati, Louisville and Syracuse finishing in a three-way tie for fourth with 3-4 conference records. I picked Syracuse over Cincinnati and UConn as the most appealing option.
No bowl: Rutgers. I have the Scarlet Knights finishing one win short of bowl eligibility. The nonconference schedule is actually pretty difficult with North Carolina and both independent service academies -- all three made bowl games last season.