CINCINNATI — Given how Cincinnati's season had gone, a share of the Big East title was nearly as satisfying as winning the whole thing.
Munchie Legaux threw a career-high three touchdowns and Cincinnati's defense had two scores, setting up Saturday's 35-27 victory over Connecticut that left the Bearcats one of three teams sharing the Big East title.
The Bearcats, coming off a 4-8 season, led the race before senior quarterback Zach Collaros broke his right ankle. They won their last two behind Legaux to forge a three-way tie atop the league.
"It means a lot," second-year Cincinnati coach Butch Jones said. "Sometimes you have to lose to really appreciate this."
The Bearcats got their third title in four years but likely will miss out on the league's BCS bid.
West Virginia seems certain to be the highest-ranked Big East team in the final BCS standings, which is the tiebreaker among it, Cincinnati and Louisville. WVU was No. 23 in the BCS before beating USF on Thursday. According to BCSguru.com, which tracks the standings beyond the top 25, Cincinnati was No. 30 going into Saturday and Louisville, which was idle over the weekend, was No. 41.
Louisville would have gotten the bid if the Bearcats had lost because of its win over WVU.
UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee helped the Bearcats get off to a fast start. Lineman Walter Stewart plucked the ball from his hand in the end zone for Cincinnati's first touchdown, and safety Drew Frey returned a pickoff 15 yards for a 14-0 lead.
Legaux, a sophomore, had his best performance in his third start, going 15 of 35 for 217 yards.
"A lot was on my shoulders," Legaux said. "I didn't do too much. Whatever they told me to do, that's what I'd do."
UConn failed in its bid to become bowl eligible for a fifth straight season.
PITT 33, SYRACUSE 20: Senior cornerback Antwuan Reed returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown with less than three minutes to play to lift the host Panthers, who forced six turnovers and became bowl eligible.
"This is the way we've wanted to play all season," Reed said. "We picked a good time to come through with a game like this because we needed to get this win for the seniors."
The Panthers are bowl eligible for the fourth straight year and might head to St. Petersburg for the Beef 'O'Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field. Syracuse fell one win short of being bowl eligible.