BCS Special Article Louisville: Big East == Big Easy?
This postseason is seemingly the most appalling my beloved BCS has ever produced. Unranked Wisconsin stole a bid by thrashing Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship and Northern Illinois squeaked in thanks to Wisconsin and the embarrassment known (at the moment) as the Big East. This year’s Big East was worse than last season’s; made evident by the four-way tie atop the horrid conference. Teams seemed uninterested in earning a BCS berth and just kept losing during the last few weeks of the season. Perhaps the only team from the conference who never looked foolish this season was the University of Cincinnati who lost its by a combined 16 points; however, that includes a loss to an middle of the road MAC team in Toledo. Nonetheless, the Big East supplies its yearly competitor into the BCS showcase in #21 Louisville.
Louisville seemed prime for an undefeated season as it prepared to face Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. This was perennial cellar dweller Syracuse after all, and Louisville had knocked out the first 9 teams on its schedule. Syracuse had just played it’s worst conference game of the year in a 35-24 loss to Cincinnati and seemed anything but primed for an upset. Louisville’s MVP Teddy Bridgewater was playing at a Heisman level after chucking 5 touchdowns against Temple the week before…obviously this is all leading up to something and that something is Syracuse obliterating the Cardinals in a fashion no writer, analyst, or spectator would’ve imagined. A 3OT loss against Connecticut followed the Syracuse debacle and suddenly the once juggernaut of the Big East would need to claw by Rutgers in order to secure a BCS berth. Rutgers offered L’ville 3 turnovers and the Cardinals held possession for 70% of the game. In the end, Louisville would find itself in the very position it seemed destined for since the season’s conception. Unfortunately, they play an SEC team and likely will be slaughtered by Florida, but wasn’t this the rumor last year for West Virginia against ACC champ Clemson? There is a little something to this Big East football after all, and while many assume the conference to be a cake-walk, the winner still has to fight tooth and nail for the title of champion as any other crowned conference king does. Midwest football is unlike any other and this blue-collar style of game play always lends itself to keeping games which have no business being close…close. Ask Florida about its game against Ohio resident Bowling Green earlier this season. Ask Penn State about Ohio University. Ask Rutgers about Kent State. They will all tell you the same thing, “Those boys are football players”. Many assume Florida trip to New Orleans will lend a new meaning to the nickname “Big Easy”, but a forewarning to the Gators: Louisville is not going to rollover and you have looked terrible against far worse teams this season. Recall your 7 point victory against Louisiana Lafayette, 23 points against FCS Jacksonville State, 7 point win over Missouri, and struggle against Bowling Green. All of those games were played in the hallowed Swamp as well, so perhaps the Big Easy won’t be so friendly to the Gators after all. Jeff Driskel has not come into his own as a passer all season and has looked the opposite of his moniker “Baby Tebow”. Florida’s 3rd ranked scoring defense had better be prepared for chucker Teddy Bridgewater, a type of passer the Gators have not seen since its loss to Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Last season the Big East came in seemingly at the brink of total collapse. Everyone was calling for the end of the automatic bid for the conference as West Virginia had staggered out of the league with so many bumps and bruises some were calling Clemson by 30. Well, West Virginia ended up defeating the Tigers 70-33 and quieted the Big East’s haters until the 2012-2013 season began and people realized the Mountaineers were no longer present. No one believes the Cardinals stand a chance in New Orleans come January 2nd, but to not even give Louisville a punchers chance would be to commit the same mistake as the plethora of power conference patrons who so quickly dismissed the Big East before it had the final chance to show its mettle. Louisville departs in 2014, but the Cardinals are the group granted the sacred opportunity of defending the Midwest brand of football. Florida is expecting this to be the “Big Easy in the Big Easy”, but history seems to laugh at the assumptions of the arrogant. Perhaps it will be Louisville who leaves New Orleans Sugar Bowl champs? Perhaps the world will once against facepalm itself for allowing the Big East to come in and upset the established order. After all, if the conference had its automatic bid revoked, there would be no assuming and no shock. Here’s to Louisville and its last stand for the Big East’s style of play.