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Crazy finish looming in Big East Conference

November 16, 2010
By JOHN WICKLINE, Staff Writer

Skip Holtz just laughs when he watches the so-called experts pontificating on who's going to win what game and what team is going to which bowl. If those same experts were betting their retirements on the outcome of Big East football games this season, their savings would go the way of the Enron scandal.

"Most leagues, there's a top and a bottom," Holtz said during Monday's conference coaches' get-together. "This is a league where everybody's in the middle. There's great balance in this league."

Connecticut's toppling of Pittsburgh last Thursday threw the conference race and the subsequent BCS bid into turmoil. Pitt still sits atop the conference with a 3-1 record, but four teams are breathing down the Panthers' neck with two losses, including South Florida and West Virginia.

Both teams loom on the horizon for Pitt over the next two weeks.

"As things start unfolding, there are Big East teams losing, and it's kind of up in the air," said UConn running back Jordan Todman. "We figure if we win out and some things happen, it's possible we can win the Big East."

UConn, 2-2 in the conference, holds the top hand in the tiebreaker because of its wins over Pitt and West Virginia. The Huskies still have games remaining at Syracuse (4-2) and at South Florida (3-2), which are sandwiched around a home game with Cincinnati.

This weekend will mark Syracuse's final conference game, as the Orange close out their schedule the following week with non-conference Boston College.

West Virginia, 2-2 in the conference, travels to Louisville this Saturday for a noon game. The Mountaineers, which one week ago sat at the bottom of the league, still have a chance to win at least a share of the title if they win out over the next three weeks. One of those games, a Black Friday contest at Pittsburgh, is on the horizon.

"I see the big picture," said WVU linebacker J.T. Thomas. "The Big East is so wild and crazy that you never know how it's going to work out."

Mountaineer coach Bill Stewart doesn't want to think about the possibilities in the conference race, but knows this is the time for his team to prove their worth.

"If you look around and check all the scores, teams lost that should have won," he said. "You just have to do the best you can and finish strong. This is when teams go from average to good, from good to great, or from poor to better.

"It's tough time in games 11 and 12, but it's also a good time because this is when you can really define yourself."

South Florida, after hosting Pittsburgh, will step out of the conference the following week to host neighboring Miami (Fla.). It then closes out the campaign with a home game against Connecticut.

"I think there's great balance in this league," Holtz said. "It's kind of like NASCAR. Everybody has the same size engine, so it's who's doing the best job of driving it that week."



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