With Pitt losing and UConn winning today, it now appears that we'll be facing one of these two teams in the Papa John's Bowl. The question now is which one. After taking a closer look at the selections, I personally believe we're going to take on UConn. For the Big East, the selections up to the Papa John's are as follows:
Meineke Car Care: Third
Papa John's: Fourth
Here's how I see this panning out.
Gator: West Virginia (not the second-best team in the conference, but the the Gator Bowl wants to pit Bobby Bowden against his old team for his swan song)
Meineke Car Care: Pitt
Papa John's: UConn
Now, there is some question as to whether or not the Meineke Car Care Bowl might take Rutgers instead of Pitt. I'm not really sure why, given that Pitt is a clearly superior team with a dedicated fan base. However, that's what's being said, and if it happens (I believe this is an unlikely scenario), Pitt will fall to Birmingham. If it doesn't, though, Papa John's will likely take UConn instead of Rutgers because it took Rutgers last year.
As far as who I'd prefer to play goes, I guess I would have to say Pitt. I would like some sort challenge and the profile boost that would go along with beating a quality opponent, and Pitt provides those opportunities. UConn, while a feel-good story and certainly a tough, well-coached team, just probably aren't on our level in terms of talent. An easy win over UConn would give us our eight wins and a morale boost, but I don't think it would mean much more than that.
On the other hand, after watching parts of the Pitt-Cinci game today, I certainly think Pitt would be a tough out for us. Their physical offensive line and tough, stealthy back Dion Lewis would give our interior defense a tough game. On the other hand, though, I was not overly impressed with the Panthers' defense. Although it played well early, it wilted down the stretch. Cinci was able to beat Pitt in numerous ways: the Bearcats ran the ball, hit receivers underneath, got big plays verctically, etc. If our offense were to play at the level it did against Clemson and the first three quarters against the Gators, I think we could score lots of points on the Panthers. The game would be tougher than UConn, but I'm fairly confident that we could take the victory.
Come back tomorrow to discusss our draw when we learn more.