Big East can improve reputation in September
We've written a lot about the Big East's position among the six conferences with automatic BCS bowl qualifiers, and the league suffered through a long season in 2010, going without a ranked team for much of the year and finishing September just 1-10 against fellow BCS teams.
The league finished with a better mark -- USF won at Miami, and then Big East teams went 3-2 in bowl games against BCS opponents, but the top teams took bad bowl losses, with league champ Connecticut getting routed by Oklahoma and West Virginia losing to N.C. State. The final record against BCS opponents was a disappointing 6-14, including a 3-12 regular-season mark.
Again, September is the month where the Big East has a chance to fare better against other BCS leagues, but it won't be easy -- nine of this year's 15 games against schools from BCS conferences feature opponents that won eight or more games in 2010.
The biggest day for the Big East's reputation? That'd be Sept. 17, with four games that present opportunities for the league to land quality wins. The smallest of the four is Louisville-Kentucky, which is in Lexington this year; then you have three big games in West Virginia at Maryland (and Randy Edsall), Pittsburgh at Iowa and Syracuse at Southern Cal. All three have Big East teams on the road against potentially ranked opponents.
USF's trip to Notre Dame on Sept. 3 ranks among the biggest nonconference games in the Big East this fall, though it's hard to argue with West Virginia playing host to LSU on Sept. 24. If Rutgers or Louisville could win at North Carolina, it could help the Big East's position with the ACC -- USF went 2-0 against ACC teams last season, but the rest of the league went 1-5. Here's the full rundown of BCS opponents for the Big East:
Sept. 3 -- USF at Notre Dame, Wake Forest at Syracuse; Sept. 10 -- Connecticut at Vanderbilt, Rutgers at North Carolina, Cincinnati at Tennessee; Sept. 16 -- Iowa State at Connecticut; Sept. 17 -- Louisville at Kentucky, West Virginia at Maryland, Pittsburgh at Iowa, Syracuse at Southern Cal; Sept. 22 -- N.C. State at Cincinnati; Sept. 24 -- Notre Dame at Pittsburgh, LSU at West Virginia; Oct. 8 -- Louisville at North Carolina; Nov. 19 -- Miami at USF.