Friday, January 2, 2009
Losses by Big East teams in bowls -- Pitt in the Brut Sun Bowl and last evening's defeat of Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl -- understandably have fans of the conference hanging their heads low. I can't stress enough that this should not be the case. Yes, it's disappointing to see Dave Wannstedt's Pitt team not muster a single point against an Oregon State team that had given up 65 points to Oregon two weeks prior. Yes, it's gut wrenching for the Big East Champ Cincinnati Bearcats to lose a mistake-filled game to a former conference member and hated ACC rival in the most important bowl for the conference this season. If we want to be considered a serious BCS conference, than it is completely necessary to feel utterly discouraged by these developments and expect that things should turn out differently.
The bottom line is that the Big East Conference still has a winning bowl record this season (3-2). Even with Virginia Tech's victory last evening, the ACC is a pitiful 4-6 in bowls despite placing 10 teams in the the post-season (not to mention, they are 1-2 against the Big East). Look at the Big 10 Conference. This "big time" grouping of teams is mustering a measly 1-5 bowl record this season. With UCONN yet to play, there is one more opportunity for a Big East bowl win, and it's a game that can decide whether we conclude the bowl season with a winning record or not.
Something else to consider is that the two teams that have lost in bowls for the Big East thus far, have done so after improving on their previous situations. This is the first season in Dave Wannstedt's four years as head coach, that Pittsburgh has gone to a bowl. Sure, they didn't pull out a victory, but it's something to build on going into next season. More importantly, Brian Kelly's Cincinnati squad has never seen the type of success that they encountered this season. Going to a BCS bowl game is a huge deal for a team that had been looked upon as a peon in the world of college football a few short years ago. Building blocks are now in place for these two programs to continue their winning ways and win bowl games in the future.
I'm also well aware that critics will try to point out that the Big East Conference's bowl victories came in lower tier bowls against teams of suspect talent. People can criticize all they want, but these are still valuable wins in my mind. Pat White going out the way he did against a solid UNC team coached by someone as well recognized as Butch Davis is something to crow about. Rutgers downing an equally hot team as NC State in the Papajohns.com Bowl is another accomplishment not to be diminished. Sure, the USF victory in the Magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl may not seem like much, but the drubbing they delivered should speak volumes about their ability to score at will and win in convincing fashion.
I hope this little pep talk has Big East followers feeling at least a little better about this season. I leave you with updated bowl conference standings, and links that will both bring closure to last night's defeat and ones that will have you looking more optimistically to the future of Big East play. We now need everyone rallying around the UCONN Huskies in their Saturday match-up with Turner Gill's Buffalo Bulls.
Pac 10 5-0
Big 12 3-1
Big East 3-2
Sun Belt 1-1
Big 10 1-5
- Brian Bennett of ESPN's Big East Blog chalks up Cincy's loss to mistakes and a stout Hokie defense....
- ....but B-Squared notes that fans should not look down on the Bearcats' season
- Orange Bowl analysis from Matt Zemek of scout.com
- Orange Bowl pics, courtesy of scout.com
UCONN will cheer you up: