LOUISVILLE, Ky. - West Virginia's path to a share of the Big East championship and a possible BCS bowl berth is no easier, but at least it has become clearer after the results of Saturday's games.
Although there still exists a possibility of a multi-team tie for first at 4-3 in the league standings, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and West Virginia now are the only teams that can be involved in a tie at 5-2.
The Panthers (6-4, 4-1 Big East), who won at South Florida 17-10, clearly have the inside track. If they win at home against West Virginia on Friday and on the road at Cincinnati on Dec. 4, they win the title and the BCS berth outright.
Connecticut (6-3, 3-2), which beat Syracuse 23-6 Saturday night, has probably the next-best chance. The Huskies need to win out at home against Cincinnati and at South Florida and hope that Pitt loses at least once. UConn, because it beat both WVU and Pitt, holds all the tiebreakers in any two- or three-way tie.
And West Virginia? Well, the Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2) can hand Pitt its second loss in Friday's Backyard Brawl and create the possibility of a tie. But in order to win a tiebreaker, WVU would then need to win at home against Rutgers on Dec. 4 and hope UConn loses one of its final two games to drop out of the mix.
If that happens, West Virginia would either win the title outright if Pitt loses at Cincinnati or would own the tiebreaker against the Panthers because of the head-to-head win WVU needs in order to get to that point.
- Dave Hickman