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Syracuse vs. Rutgers: The Battle For Pinstripes?

After the loss this weekend, I think we can all agree that the Orange have about as much chance of playing in the Big East's BCS bowl as a Greg Robinson defense has of shutting out an opponent. The Orange are basically three-games back of Pitt since the Panthers own the head-to-head.

That leaves the rest of the bowls for the Orange to sort themselves out in (assuming we get bowl eligible and the sooner the better on that...).

A rep from the Champ Sports Bowl (Big East No. 2) was on hand this weekend to watch the Orange take on the Cardinals. Word on the street is that he was so enamored with Syracuse this season, he wanted to give SU the invite had they won. Seems a bit early for that but regardless, it's nice to know we're a consideration. Remember, just because you finish No. 2, doesn't mean you'll get picked No. 2. It certainly would not be a shock if a lesser West Virginia was selected over us based on name-brand and fan travel expectations.

Personally, I would love to see the Orange go back to the Champ Sports Bowl. The scene of the crime. A chance to win that game would be poetic. It would be like exorcising the last demon. Remember, if we don't lose that 2004 version so badly, Coach P doesn't get fired and Greg Robinson never gets hired. A win in the 2010 Champ Sports Bowl would be a course-correction on the highest level.

But somehow, I don't see us going there even if we win out. Something just keeps nagging at me that the powers-that-be want us to end up in the Pinstripe Bowl.

First of all, we all know DOC Gross' affinity for the NYC market. It's no coincidence there's a towering billboard in Times Square today and not downtown Boston or Philadelphia. SU isn't part of the Yankee Stadium regular season games currently scheduled, so if DOC wants the Orange inside the walls of Yankee Stadium, this is how he's going to have to get it. Throw in the fact that this is the inaugural version of the game and there's a certain cache that comes with it.

Second, you know the Pinstripe Bowl wants a local team. They're going to be shipping in a Big 12 school from some cockamamie place in Texas or Kansas so they'll need someone with local roots to draw in a solid fanbase. That leaves Syracuse, Rutgers and UConn. Rutgers and UConn still have a chance to becoming bowl eligible (at SU's expense) but the Orange are clearly the "hot" team in the market at the moment. This week's loss aside, SU has the momentum that a bowl is looking for, Pinstripe or otherwise.

So one has to wonder, then...will the winner of Syracuse vs. Rutgers have the inside track to the Pinstripe Bowl? Probably. If the Orange win, they're bowl eligible, they'll have four Big East wins and they'll likely finish no worse than third or fourth in the conference. If the Knights win, they'll take a huge bite out of the Orange's momentum and get their season back on track.

Syracuse and Rutgers also seem to be the only teams anyone is considering for the bowl at this point. Most have Syracuse there (ESPNOTE) while others have Rutgers (SI.com). There's still a lot of football to be played and things could all play out wildly different from here on out, but expect one of these two teams to be standing where Derek Jeter stands come December.

A key cog in the discussion. Don't look now but Texas is officially on the table for the Pinstripe Bowl. At 4-5, the Longhorns aren't even a bowl lock yet, though there's a good chance they'll finish 6-6. If so, you better believe the Pinstripe Bowl will move heaven and earth to get that program up to NYC. As much as they're not as good as they were last year, and not even good enough to beat UCLA, they're still Texas. And a win over them in a bowl game still carries weight, regardless. Something else to think about as we start getting down to the bowl standings.