Alright, we're bowl eligible. That's awesome. But now comes the tricky part...maneuvering our way through the rest of the season to get placed in the best bowl possible. Let's dive in and see what we can control, where we're at and how we can get where we need to be.
First off, let's talk about the two remaining games. Both important for sure. The truth is, however, the UConn game in INFINITELY more important if the Orange are serious about actually playing in a BCS Bowl this year. A win against the Huskies would make the Orange 5-2 in conference. At worst, that will be the 2nd best record in the conference.
From here, a few things can happen. Pitt can win-out and that's that. The Panthers will have the Big East crown at 6-1 and will play in the BCS Bowl.
If the Panthers lose and they and the Orange are the only teams at 5-2 to close the season, then the Panthers still advance thanks to the head-to-head win.
If the Panthers, Orange and another team like West Virginia all finish 5-2, then we have a mess. Since the head-to-head tiebreaker would theoretically be 1-1 between all three teams, we'd move on to the second tiebreaker...BCS ranking. And that's where the Boston College game comes in. If the Orange win out, it will be hard for any Big East team to pass them in the overall rankings. And the highest-ranked team, regardless of who beat who, would advance.
If the Panthers completely collapse (which is absolutely possible) and a logjam occurs at the 5-2 spot between the Orange, South Florida and West Virginia, then the Orange advance thanks to head-to-head wins over both teams.
So, much to my surprise, the Orange are very much alive for the BCS spot, crazy as it sounds. All we need is a Pitt loss (very doable) or two and we just need to win, baby.
CHAMP SPORTS BOWL, PINSTRIPE BOWL OR WHAT?
So let's assume the Orange win-out but so does Pitt. Pitt goes to the Fiesta Bowl and the Orange are the pick of the litter for the remaining Big East bowls. The Champs Sports Bowl is the No. 2 selection, but does that necessarily mean they will select the Orange? Or that we can want to play there over the Pinstripe Bowl?
Remember, the Champs Sports gets to pick No. 2, they don't automatically get the No. 2 team. There's a strong possibility they could look at a West Virginia team just behind the Orange and say they'd prefer them due to ticket sales or location or whatever. If that were the case, you better believe the Pinstripe Bowl, which has the No. 4 pick, will gladly scoop up the Orange and their local alumni base. That's if the Meineke Car Care Bowl doesn't grab us first with the No. 3 pick (Bowl line-up here).
But is that what the Orange want anyway? Would we rather play in front of a hometown crowd in "hallowed" Yankee Stadium in the No. 1 media market in the nation rather than travel to sunny Orlando? Would playing in the Pinstripe Bowl be a shot to the bow of Rutgers and UConn as we continue to plant our flag as New York's College Team? A lot of folks have wondered if DOC Gross is all about this scenario, regardless of record, and I have to say it makes sense.
Maybe its a low-level conspiracy theory but I think the Big East has a lot riding on the Pinstripe Bowl and they want to see a rejuvenated, feel-good story like Syracuse in there right now instead of a 6-6 Rutgers team. The Big East needs to own NYC just as much as Syracuse does. And with the added bonus possibility that Texas could be available to play in the game, the conference is going to want to make this as marquee as possible.
So what if the Orange lose-out? Instead of 9-3, what if the Orange finish 7-5 and see a lot of their goodwill go bye-bye in the process? That means UConn is bowl eligible and probably finishes with the same record. Their late-season success and our late-season collapse could combine to make the Orange drop all the way past the Pinstripe, which chooses the Huskies instead. In that case, it's between the BBVA Compass (Birmingham) Bowl, Liberty Bowl and BEEF.
At this point, I feel like any of those three, while still being bowl games, would be disappointments. The calibur of opponent falls off a cliff compared to the other games. Plus. I can't imagine too many Orange fans traveling to Birmingham to watch the game. Of course BEEF is appreciated always, but in a season like this, we officially want more than just BEEF.
So what do the experts thing?
Pinstripe Bowl...Brian Bennett
Champs Sports Bowl...Stewart Mandel, SI
Pinstripe Bowl...Andrea Adelson
Meineke Car Care Bowl...Mark Schlabach
Pinstripe Bowl...College Football News