Think about this pathetic permutation: Saturday decides whether Syracuse finishes in the basement of the Big East, or goes to a bowl game. Normally, a postseason berth is reason for celebration, but this year for the Orange it would merely represent an exhale. While the four-game losing streak won’t be forgotten with a trip to the Compass Bowl, it sure beats the hell out of sitting all offseason thinking about an epic two-month collapse.
Last week, in the wake of yet another wretched performance by SU, The Fizz declared the Orange bowl hopes dead. That was premature – assuming Syracuse has one win left in it. Here’s what needs to happen for an SU bowl bid.
West Virginia beats USF 30-27
The first domino has fallen in favor of Syracuse. The Mountaineers traveled to Tampa and survive a classic Thursday night bizarre Big East game. The Bulls loss knocks them out of the bowl discussion, opening up the door a bit more for the Orange. Beyond bowl eligibility, SU needs a win Saturday to avoid last place in the league. Both USF and SU have only one Big East win this season, and the Bulls have the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Saturday: Syracuse @ Pitt – Syracuse must win.
This is the most obvious, yet potentially most difficult part of the equation. Can SU go on the road and beat the Panthers? The Orange is only 1-3 on the road this season, with a terrifying, nail-biting win at a snoozing Super Dome over a bad Tulane team. SU hasn’t beaten Pitt since ’04, and hasn’t won in Western PA since ’01 – a full decade ago. A victory at least makes the Orange bowl eligible at six wins. But that doesn’t guarantee anything, because…
UConn @ Cincinnati – Connecticut must lose.
The Huskies will finish higher than the Orange in the league standings, no matter what – UConn has already tallied three conference wins. But a loss Saturday leaves Connecticut at 5-7, and not bowl eligible. A win and the Huskies will likely go bowling with six wins, four of them in the Big East. The ghost of Coach P still haunts.
Now that USF has lost, if SU wins AND UConn loses, SU is one of five bowl teams in the Big East. That’s good. If SU AND UConn wins, that would make six eligible teams – and the Orange is probably still okay.
Bye: Louisville, Rutgers, Notre Dame
It’s truly a putrid sign of the conference when the team that may be repping the BCS bid will finish at a mere 7-5 and unranked. That’s the Cardinals, who will not play on the season’s final week. WVU will now share a piece of the Big East title with its win in Tampa. Cincy can also finish with 5 victories in the league as well, and the BCS bid will be decided by tie-breakers. Rutgers has solidified a bowl bid somewhere with (8-4/4-3) record. Notre Dame at 8-4, will likely take the Big East’s Champs Sports Bowl bid. That leaves four other bowl bids in the conference (only one entrant between the Compass and Liberty bowls). Big East zaniness!
Here’s where the Orange would be headed: the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Dec. 20; the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 31; or the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 7. Not the Grandaddies of them all, but hey, at this point beggars can’t be choosers.
Big East exec Nick Carparelli says, “Nothing is guaranteed, but it’s very likely that if there are six bowl-eligible teams from the Big East they’re all going to a bowl. If there’s a seventh … then who knows?”
The USF loss is huge. A Bulls win could have potentially set the Big East up with 7 bowl-needy teams, and the conference would have had to pull some strings to steal spots from somewhere. As it stands, the league may still need to find 6 landing places. Does the Big East have any pull across the national football postseason? SU/UConn wins and we may find out.
The wild card: Don’t forget, six wins doesn’t guarantee SU anything. This is not a win and in scenario this weekend, because by NCAA bylaws, a bowl MUST take a 7-win team over a 6-win one.
Prediction: Syracuse loses anyway, which renders the last ten minutes of your life irrelevant.