Syracuse Can Still Win the Big East… Here’s How

Syracuse, Once Left for Dead in the Big East Race, Could Claim a Share of the Conference Title This Week

First of all, congratulations to the Syracuse Orange football team for finishing the regular season 7-5 (5-2 Big East). Given the rocky start, that’s a very strong finish indeed!

Now, the IDEAL scenario for this season would be for Syracuse to win the Big East and bring the hardware with them to the ACC next season. On the other hand, it would be another black eye for the ACC if Rutgers were to go home with the Big East trophy (just how many eyes does the ACC have, anyway?). If Louisville wins it, that may still work out pretty well for the ACC (wink wink).

Back to Syracuse: for them to even have an outside shot at the Big East title, the Orange needed two things to happen this weekend: (1) Pittsburgh had to beat Rutgers, and (2) Connecticut had to defeat Louisville. Both of those things happened! So now what? And how can Syracuse win it when their season is over, you ask?

The regular season may be done for the Orange, but Louisville and Rutgers still have a game against each other. and that’s where the possibilities get pretty interesting. You see, at the moment these are the standings atop the conference:

  1. Rutgers 9-2 (5-1)
  2. Louisville 9-2 (4-2)
  3. Syracuse 7-5 (5-2)
  4. Cincinnati 8-3 (4-2)

That sets up a final game between Louisville and Rutgers for the Big East conference championship — but it’s not winner-take-all. Now bear with me for a minute. If Louisville beats Rutgers in the finale, both teams would finish 5-2 in conference — the same record as Syracuse already has. It would be a three-way tie. If Cincinnati also beats UConn, they too would be 5-2 in conference, making it a four-way tie for first place.

So what are the Big East tie-breaker rules? In either a three- or four-way tie, the Big East forms a “mini-conference” consisting only of the tied teams. It then looks at the head-to-head among the tied teams.

In the case of a four-way tie where two of the teams are 2-1 against the other three, then the head-to-head winner of those two would be declared the champion for BCS purposes. In our scenario, that would have to be Louisville.

However, if Louisville wins and Cincinnati loses, that’s where it gets interesting.  You see, in that case all 3 teams would end up 1-1 against each other, so the tie-breaker becomes whoever has the highest BCS ranking. Okay, the chances of that being Syracuse are pretty slim (it would probably be Louisville in that case, too). Though at least there is the slightest glimmer of hope…

But in our scenario, Rutgers finishes the season on a two-game losing streak, and Louisville drops two of the last three… would any of these teams even be ranked? With the Orange finishing as they did (three-game win streak; five wins in the last six games), is it at least conceivable that Syracuse might be the highest ranked when all is said and done?

Honestly, the best the ‘Cuse can probably hope for is a share of the title in their final football season, but…

…can’t we at least dream of Orange in the Orange Bowl?

Read more from Hokie Mark over at ACCFootballRx, where he gives his prescription for fixing what ails the ACC on the gridiron.

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4 thoughts on “Syracuse Can Still Win the Big East… Here’s How

  1. If Louisville ends the season as losers of two of their final three, and Rutgers finds themselves losing three of four, I do think there’s a decent possibility Syracuse gets the BCS berth. Of Syracuse’s five losses, all were to AQ bowl teams, and one of their wins came against Louisville — the team they need to win in order for this scenario to play out. The Orange only lost to Rutgers by eight, and the Scarlet Knights’ loss to Pitt was far uglier than any defeat SU suffered all year. Rutgers will be assisted by Kent State moving up in the rankings, and Syracuse is also helped by Northwestern rising this week (especially with USC dropping so far). Louisville has no notable opponents to lean on, beyond Rutgers, so that’s definitely an issue for them.

  2. It could end up being 7-6 Ga Tech vs. 7-5 Syracuse… Woo woo!
    Of course, if Ken State gets a BCS bid, then the Big East champ goes to the Sugar Bowl to play Florida (most likely). Does that make you feel any better?

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