Monday, November 05, 2012

Mid-Season SDPI: Big East and WAC

The time has come for our final installment of SDPI. This week, we'll examine the two smallest conferences in IA football, the Big East and the WAC. For the WAC, this will be the conference's final season of football. Stay strong loyal WAC fans, and weep not for the memories.

First the Big East standings.
Now the SDPI ratings.
At the top of the standings, conventional wisdom seems to hold here. Louisville rates out as the best team in the conference and has a chance to run the table and finish 12-0.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats need Louisville to lose twice or find some way to emerge from a three-way tie to claim the conference's auto-bid to a BCS bowl. With the worst defense in the conference, the Bearcats are more likely to lose one of their final four games than win out.

Connecticut: The Huskies need to win out to get back to the postseason. While that is unlikely, the Huskies have proven to be quite strong defensively. The universe may be in the process of collecting from the Huskies after their run to the Fiesta Bowl in 2010. That season, Connecticut went 3-1 in one-score games en route to the Big East title. Since the 2010 season, the Huskies are just 4-8 in one-score games.

Louisville: The proverbial fly in the ointment. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have virtually no chance to play for the national title even if they remain unbeaten.

Pittsburgh: Sometimes you just never know. On opening weekend, Pitt lost at home to IAA Youngstown State by two touchdowns. This past weekend, they led a top-five Notre Dame team by 14 in the fourth quarter and missed a potential game-winning field goal in the second overtime before losing in the third frame.

Rutgers: Their loss to Kent State removed them from the national conscience, but the Knights still control their own destiny in regards to winning their first ever conference title.

South Florida: With their win over Connecticut, the Bulls snapped a six-game conference losing streak dating back to last season. However, the Bulls have still won only twice in their last 14 Big East games.

Syracuse: After a 1-3 start, the Orange have a chance to get to their second bowl in three seasons. With their offensive firepower, they also have a shot to end Louisville's dream season at home this weekend.

Temple: Life back in a BCS-conference has been tough for the Owls. They have the worst offense in the conference, but have already banked two league wins, their most in the Big East wince 2002. A third would give them their most in the conference since 1997.

Now the WAC standings.
And the SDPI ratings.
The WAC is clearly a two-team race between the Aggies of Utah State and the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech. In its final season, the WAC has produced three solid mid-major teams, and four teams that rank among the worst in college football.

Idaho: The Vandals were the first team in IA football to fire their coach in 2012. They have gone just 9-25 since winning an exciting Humanitarian Bowl in 2009.

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs still have a remote chance at qualifying for a BCS bowl. Obviously, they need to win out, and pull against the Big 10. If they finish in the top-16 of the final BCS standings (currently 20th) and are ranked ahead of a champion from a BCS-qualifying conference, they will be headed for the big time.

New Mexico State: After winning four games last season, and appearing moderately competitive, this season has to qualify as a disappointment. The Aggies have yet to beat a IA team and could go winless in the WAC.

San Jose State: The Spartans have clinched their first winning season since 2006, and have an outside shot at winning ten games for the first time since 1987.

Texas-San Antonio: The Roadrunners have been very competitive considering this is their first year of IA football and just their second season of football overall. They have already beaten a pair of IA teams (fellow IA newcomer South Alabama and New Mexico State) and with games remaining against Idaho and Texas State, have a shot at finishing .500 in the conference.

Texas State: Like their newbie brethren in San Antonio, the Bobcats also have two IA wins in their inaugural season, including a mammoth upset of Houston in their IA debut.

Utah State: The Aggies have a bye before their clash with Louisiana Tech on November 17th that should decide the WAC. Their two losses on the season have come by a combined five points (at Wisconsin and at BYU). They received just four votes in the latest AP Poll, and are one of the most underrated teams in the country.

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