The Times West Virginian

WVU Sports

November 16, 2010

Big East math

How the conference title race looks

MORGANTOWN — The time has come to lay out just what kind of hole West Virginia’s football team has dug for itself, an almost inescapable pit on the path toward representing the Big East in its BCS bowl, probably the Fiesta Bowl.

The severity of the situation was lost in the elation that came with the Mountaineers ending a two-game losing streak with a convincing and punishing victory over a Cincinnati team that is clearing right the elevator down from the heights Brian Kelly took it before leaving for Notre Dame.

Here is that situation:

The Mountaineers have two Big East losses, to Syracuse and Connecticut. Follow this carefully, because it really isn’t as complicated as it would seem.

Syracuse also has two losses. The Orange, making a storybook turnaround after falling to depths of despair and desperation under Greg Robinson, has only one more conference game on its schedule, this week against Connecticut.

If Syracuse wins that game, the Orange will finish with a 5-2 Big East record.

If WVU wins out, beating Louisville, Pitt and Rutgers, the Mountaineers will be 5-2.

If two teams tie, the first tiebreaker is head to head play and Syracuse beat WVU.

So, if Syracuse wins, the Mountaineers have to hope that at least third team finishes the season with two losses  — Pitt, Connecticut or South Florida. Pitt currently has one loss but would have two if WVU were to beat the Panthers. South Florida and Connecticut already have two losses, so they would have to win out.

Then you would create a mini-conference and see how they did against each other.

Say it comes down to Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia.

WVU would have beaten Pitt, lost to Syracuse and been 1-1.

Pitt would have beaten Syracuse, lost to West Virginia and been 1-1.

Syracuse would have beaten West Virginia, lost to Pitt and been 1-1.

So who gets the BCS bid?

That sends you to the final tiebreaker, which is the BCS standings. The team ranked highest in the BCS standings would get the bid.

Right now there are no Big East teams ranked in the Top 25 BCS ratings.

Things really aren’t much different if UConn beats Syracuse this Saturday, for that would mean UConn would have two losses and be tied with WVU, which lost also head-to-head with UConn. In fact, UConn is in great shape if it wins out, for it holds the tiebreaker over WVU and Pitt.

The answer for all of the Big East teams, of course, is to keep on winning and see where the chips fall before worrying about it.

Obviously, it’s Pitt’s spot to lose, considering that the Panthers have only that one Big East defeat and own a victory over Syracuse, but nothing is guaranteed because it has been painfully obvious all season that no one in the conference is good enough to even break into the polls.

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