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Just Like Basketball - How the Entire Big East Can Reach the Postseason

Nothing brought the Big East greater initial praise, and subsequent mocking, than the fact that it got 11 teams into the NCAA Tournament. While the number was a record, and did demonstrate that the conference was full of above average teams, it also became a sore spot as many of the the best teams were eliminated very early and overall, there was little to show for such a massive beginning. Only Connecticut winning the title helped soothe the sting of the conference's overall fizzling out in the tournament.

Something very similar could happen to Big East football. Sending an entire conference to bowl games would be yet another record, but in this case, that accomplishment could only happen because of the league's unique setup of having just eight teams and therefore having to to play five non-conference games. When TCU enters the conference next season, and conference play therefore extends to eight games, it is highly unlikely that nine teams would all qualify for bowls. Still, while the possibility still exists, below is a very plausible scenario that would see all eight Big East teams qualify for bowls. 

Cincinnati   Connecticut   Louisville   Pittsburgh   Rutgers   South Florida   Syracuse   West Virginia  
Opponent   Opponent   Opponent   Opponent   Opponent   Opponent   Opponent   Opponent  
Austin Peay W Fordham W Murray State W Buffalo W NC Central W at Notre Dame W Wake Forest W Marshall W
at Tennessee L at Vanderbilt W FIU W Maine W at UNC L Ball State W Rhode Island W Norfolk St. W
Akron W Iowa State W at Kentucky W at Iowa W Ohio W FAMU W at USC L at Maryland W
NC State W at Buffalo W Marshall W Notre Dame L at Syracuse W UTEP W Toledo W LSU L
at Miami-OH W W. Michigan W at UNC L USF W Pitt L at Pitt L Rutgers L BGSU W
Louisville W at WVU L at Cincinnati L at Rutgers W Navy W at Uconn W at Tulane W Uconn W
at USF L USF L Rutgers W Utah W at Louisville L Cincinnati W WVU L at Syracuse W
at Pitt W at Pitt L Syracuse W Uconn W WVU L at Rutgers W at Louisville L at Rutgers W
WVU L Syracuse W at WVU L Cincinnati L USF L at Syracuse W at Uconn L Louisville W
at Rutgers W Louisville L Pitt L at Louisville W Army W Miami (FL) L USF L at Cincinnati W
at Syracuse L Rutgers L at UConn W at WVU L Cincinnati L Louisville W Cincinnati W Pitt W
Uconn W at Cincinnati L at USF L Syracuse L at Uconn W WVU L at Pitt W at USF W
8-4 (4-3)   6-6 (1-6)   7-5 (3-4)   8-4 (4-3)   6-6 (3-4)   9-3 (5-2)   6-6 (2-5)   11-1 (7-0)


Now, the fact that all eight teams finish 6-6 or better and therefore qualify for bowl games doesn't mean that it will happen. Still, there's again plausible reasons to think it can. The SEC has nine guaranteed bowl slots. If one assumes that Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are going to finish below .500 due to the strength of their respective schedules, only two other teams would have to finish 5-7 to make room for one Big East team in a bowl game. Our scenario calls for Louisville to beat Kentucky which could very well doom the Wildcats to a 5-7 season (since beat Louisville has been the win that made Kentucky bowl eligible twice in the past four year). While it might seem like a stretch, is is completely unimaginable that a still rebuilding team like Tennessee, or a completely new team like Auburn with a tough schedule could finish 5-7? No one thought Georgia would finish 6-7 last season, so there's always a chance.

Elsewhere, the ACC also has nine spots to fill. The Big XII has eight to fill with just ten teams. The Big Ten has eight and might struggle to fill them if Ohio State is already banned from the postseason (assuming Indiana, Minnesota, and perhaps Purdue also don't earn bowl bids). We recognize of course that the Big East would need help to make room, but these suggestions for how it could happen are not far fetched.

The Big East would only need two of the automatic bowl bids to go unfilled (something that has happened virtually every year) to make room for teams seven and eight to get bowl bids. If that happens, we could be looking at something very similar to what happened in basketball season. A lot of teams in the postseason. Maybe football will have better luck in the bowl games.