What we learned in the Big East, with one week left in the regular season.
1. Cincinnati, Louisville or West Virginia will represent the Big East in the BCS. The conference title picture is still murky, but much clearer today than it was a week ago. Rutgers and Pitt are out, so a maximum of three teams can finish as co-champions. Louisville already has a clinched its share of the conference title after a 34-24 victory over USF on Friday. If West Virginia beats USF and Cincinnati beats UConn this weekend, they would be co-champs, too. Here is the link to the scenarios, showing what each team needs to get the Big East AQ spot.
2. Cardinals' comeback complete. After Louisville dropped to 2-4 on the season, how many of you thought this team had the potential to make a BCS bowl this season? Not me. I figured in another year, this team would be the favorite to win the Big East. I certainly did not see a Big East championship in Year 2 under Charlie Strong. Not even the most optimistic among the coaches and administrators dared to dream that big. Until now. Strong guided his kids through the adversity, and now Louisville is one Cincinnati loss away from a BCS appearance. Already, Louisville has won seven games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06. The Cardinals finished 5-2 in the league, their best record since going 6-1 in 2006.
3. Rutgers meltdown. How else to describe what happened in Connecticut on Saturday afternoon? The Scarlet Knights went into the game with a chance to clinch a share of their first-ever Big East championship. They were playing a team barely clinging to BCS hopes after getting wiped out by Louisville the previous week. Everything pointed to a Rutgers victory. Instead, the Scarlet Knights played their worst game of the season, turning the ball over a whopping six times, taking six sacks and allowing 40 points in a loss to the Huskies. "I don't have an explanation for what happened," Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene said. Added coach Greg Schiano: "I'm awful disappointed right now. Feels like you got punched in the stomach about 50 times."
4. No quitting. The Mountaineers faced a 20-7 deficit to Pitt, but they never gave up and never quit on each other or the season. That is a big reason why they were able to come back to win 21-20 and keep their BCS dreams alive. Meanwhile, Cincinnati looked totally lost without Zach Collaros last week, and there were a lot of people who didn't give the Bearcats much of a chance this week. But the combination of Munchie Legaux and Jordan Luallen and a majorly heavy dose of Isaiah Pead against Syracuse showed there is no quit in this team, either.
5. Bowl hopes still alive. USF, UConn, Pitt and Syracuse all have a chance to become bowl-eligible on the final week of the season. Pitt and Syracuse will be playing for bowl eligibility on Saturday, as each team has five wins. So whichever comes out on top would have a shot at a bowl game, depending on how many others qualify and how many spots the Big East can get. UConn travels to Cincinnati, while USF hosts West Virginia on Thursday night. The Bulls played without B.J. Daniels (bruised shoulder) in a loss to Louisville, and it is unknown whether he will be available against the Mountaineers.