I know how much you guys love the "Did you know" installment we do every week during the season, so I am here to deliver a bowl edition. ESPN Stats & Information and the Big East office get the credit for the nuggets below.
Belk Bowl: Louisville vs. NC State, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
The Big East has won each of the past three matchups over the ACC in this bowl (previously called Meineke Car Care), but all have been extremely close. Those three games have been decided by a combined eight points.
Louisville has won its past two bowl appearances but has never won three straight bowl games in school history.
Louisville has been stingy against the run this season, ranking 10th nationally in rush defense and holding teams under 100 yards on the ground in seven of 12 games. That’s bad news for an NC State team that already ranks 107th in rushing offense.
Here is a comparison of Louisville in the first six games and the last six games of the season. First six: Cardinals were 2-4, averaging 16.3 points a game and 108.8 rushing yards a game. Last six: Cardinals were 5-1, averaging 27.2 points per game and 135 rushing yards a game.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs. Iowa State, Friday, 3:20 p.m.
This is the first meeting between the two schools.
Don’t let Iowa State’s 6-6 record deceive you. All six of the Cyclones' losses have come against bowl teams, and they took Kansas State to the wire in the finale.
Rutgers is 1-2 all-time vs current Big 12 teams, but the win came against Kansas State in the 2006 Texas Bowl. The two losses came to Texas in the late 1990s.
Rutgers enters on a four-game bowl winning streak, which is tied for the longest in the nation entering this bowl season with Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and USC.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Since 1980, Cincinnati is 2-17-1 vs SEC teams, including a loss to Tennessee earlier this season. The Bearcats are 0-2 against Vanderbilt during this span.
Opposing defenses had far less respect for the Cincinnati passing game when Munchie Legaux was behind center, which made it much more difficult for Isaiah Pead to find running lanes. With Zach Collaros starting, Pead averaged 103.8 yards a game, six yards a rush and had 10 rushing touchdowns. With Legaux behind center, Pead averaged 58.7 yards a game, 3.3 yards per rush and had just one rushing touchdown.
Fortunately for the Bearcats, their weakness (105th in pass defense) matches up with Vandy's weakness (97th in passing offense).
Discover Orange Bowl: West Virginia vs. Clemson, Jan., 4, 8 p.m.
Clemson has only played four games against current Big East teams, going 1-3 in those games. But the win came against West Virginia back in 1989, before the formation of the Big East. That year, the Tigers beat the Mountaineers 27-7 in the Gator Bowl in the only meeting ever between these teams.
West Virginia, on the other hand, is well accustomed to playing against teams currently in the ACC. In fact, the Mountaineers are an even 97-97-5 against current ACC teams, including a win over Maryland earlier this season. Of course, many of those games were against Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech when they were members of the Big East.
Turnovers often tell the story of a game and that’s been true for Clemson this season. In their 10 wins, the Tigers have forced 20 turnovers. In their three losses, they’ve forced a grand total of two.
Entering this bowl season, the ACC was 2-11 all time in BCS bowl games, by far the worst among all AQ conferences. The Big East is 6-7.
BBVA Compass Bowl: Pitt vs. SMU, Jan. 7, 1 p.m.
The Panthers are 5-0 when scoring at least 33 points and 1-6 when they have been held to fewer than 35 points.
Pittsburgh and SMU have met five times previously, though the schools have not met since the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1983, when the Mustangs won 7-3. That game was a battle of top-10 teams with Dan Marino leading No. 6 Pitt, and Eric Dickerson and Craig James leading No. 4 SMU.
SMU coach June Jones is one win shy of 100 for his career, which includes nine years as coach at Hawaii.
SMU is 7-0 when it scores first.