Big East Week: 2012 Schedule Breakdown

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This isn’t your father’s Big East — and no, I invoke that tired cliche not to make a point. The Big East really is a completely different conference from when it first introduced football two decades ago.

DEPARTED: West Virginia (2011), Boston College (2004), Miami (2004), Temple (2004), Virginia Tech (2003)

ADDED: Temple (2012), Cincinnati (2005), Louisville (2005), USF (2005)

And that doesn’t account for TCU, which joined and left without ever playing a game there. Temple returns after an unceremonious ouster following the 2004 season, replacing West Virginia. Of course, this incarnation of the conference won’t last long: Syracuse and Pitt are on their ways out after the 2013 season, while Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF, SMU, Memphis and Navy are on deck.


Perhaps the only thing more confusing than what the Big East will look like in a few years, is how its standings look come December. There may be no league in the Bowl Subdivision harder to peg. Teams one through eight all have qualities that suggest any could win on a given Saturday (or Thursday. Or Friday).


The Bearcats won a share of their third Big East championship in four seasons, though it was a three-way split with Louisville and West Virginia. Had Zach Collaros not gone down with an injury midway through the campaign, UC likely would have finished the regular season 11-1 and in the top 10 nationally.

C’est la vie. UC gets to push for a fourth conference championship, aided by a weak non-conference slate. Aside from a neutral field encounter against Virginia Tech and a trip to Toledo, the Bearcats see Miami U., Delaware State and Fordham. Between them, the three teams won eight games in 2011.

Sept. 6 vs. Pitt* (6-7, 4-3)

After a Week 1 bye, UC jumps immediately into conference play. Not only is it a Big East match-up for the Bearcats, it’s also a trophy game. UC and Pitt play for the River City Trophy. Four of the series’ last five games were decided by single digits, including the epic 45-44 encounter on the final week of the 2009 campaign that sealed the Bearcats’ perfect regular season.

Sept. 15. vs. Delaware State^ (3-8)

DSU is the first of two FCS opponents on the Bearcats’ slate. Per NCAA regulations, UC must win seven games for bowl eligibility, assuming two of those are against DSU and Fordham. Should UC lose one of the two, the Bearcats need to win six games for a bowl berth — in other words, five FBS victories.

Sept. 29 vs. Virginia Tech (11-3)

in Landover, Md.

Virginia Tech stifled UC in the 2009 Orange Bowl.

Oct. 6 vs. Miami U. (4-8)

The Victory Bell is the second of three trophies UC plays for. This in-state rivalry is one of college football’s oldest, dating back to 1888. MU holds the overall series advantage, but UC has won every game since 2006. Given UC boasted the nation’s No. 6 rush defense, and MU its No. 120 rushing offense last season, the streak should extend to seven games for the Bearcats.

Oct. 13 vs. Fordham^ (1-10)

UC picked up Fordham in late March, an emergency to the Bearcats’ schedule as the Big East faced instability after West Virginia’s departure. The conference was originally to have nine teams in 2012 with the addition of TCU. Losing both the Frogs and Mountaineers gave the remaining seven a tough pinch to address.

Oct. 20 at Toledo (9-4)

The Bearcats travel to the Glass Bowl for the first half of an in-state home-and-home.

Oct. 26 at Louisville* (7-6, 5-2)

UC plays UL for the Keg of Nails Trophy. The Bearcats have won the last four installments of this rivalry that dates back to 1929, though it really got rolling after 1966.

Nov. 3 vs. Syracuse* (5-7, 1-6)

Nov. 10 at Temple* (9-4)

Nov. 17 vs. Rutgers* (9-4, )

Nov. 23 vs. USF* (5-7, 1-6)

Dec. 1 at Connecticut* (5-7, )


UConn was in the meat of the conference race last season, improving throughout Paul Pasqualoni’s debut campaign. The pieces are in place for a much improved 2012, and a non-conference slate with three times likely to be out of the postseason discussion (Buffalo, Maryland, UMass) should acclimate the Huskies for league play.

That Week 3 trip to Maryland will be of particular interest, the program’s reacquainting affair with long-time architect Randy Edsall.

Aug. 30 vs. Massachusetts

UConn welcomes UMass to the FBS in this New England clash. The two teams were rivals in the old Yankee Conference prior to Connecticut making the leap Massachusetts is now making

Sept. 8 vs. NC State

Sept. 15 at Maryland

Many of the Huskies who will take to Byrd Stadium for this Week 3 encounter were recruits of current Terrapin head coach Randy Edsall. Edsall left Connecticut in January 2011, after 12 years as its head coach.

Sept. 22 at Western Michigan

The Broncos knocked off UConn at Rentschler Field last season behind quarterback Alex Carder’s 479 yards passing and five touchdowns. WMU rattled off 21 fourth quarter points to seal it.

Sept. 29 vs. Buffalo (3-9)

Oct. 6 at Rutgers* (9-4, 4-3)

Oct. 13 vs. Temple* (9-4)

While the head coach at Syracuse, Paul Pasqualoni amassed a 13-2 record against Temple, though the Owls’ two wins came late in the series. Temple won in 2002 and 2004. The latter was the series’ last installment.

Oct. 19 at Syracuse* (5-7, 1-6)

Nov. 3 at USF* (5-7, 1-6)

Nov. 9 vs. Pitt* (6-7, 4-3)

Nov. 24 at Louisville* (7-6, 5-2)

Dec. 1 vs. Cincinnati* (10-3, 5-2)


UL navigated one of the tougher non-conference schedules among its Big East counterparts last season. North Carolina, Marshall and FIU all bowled. Of this season’s five opponents, three had a combined record of 26-13. Rival Kentucky should be improved from its sub-.500 finish in ’11. All told, it will be another challenging non-conference slate.

The Cardinals benefit from drawing more home Big East games than road, and the split of 2011 bowl qualifiers is mixed.

Sept. 2 vs. Kentucky (5-7)

Louisville snapped a four-game skid to claim the 2011 Governor’s Cup.

Sept. 8 vs. Missouri State^ (2-9)

Sept. 15 vs. North Carolina (7-6)

UNC held Louisville scoreless for over 50 minutes in last season’s 14-7 Tar Heel victory.

Sept. 22 at FIU (8-5)

T.Y. Hilton scored a touchdown on the Golden Panthers’ first possession to set the tone, as the Golden Panthers won in Louisville last season.

Sept. 29 at Southern Miss (11-2)

Oct. 13 at Pitt* (6-7, 4-3)

Oct. 20 vs. USF* (5-7, 1-6)

Oct. 26 vs. Cincinnati* (10-3, 5-2)

UL ripped off five straight in the Keg of Nails series from 2003 to 2007, but is winless since.

Nov. 3 vs. Temple* (9-4)

Nov. 10 at Syracuse* (5-7, 1-6)

Nov. 24 vs. Connecticut* (5-7, 3-4)

Nov. 29 at Rutgers* (9-4, 4-3)


Paul Chryst is Pitt’s fourth head coach since December 2010. How the Panthers address such tumult will be indicative from the onset, because Pitt faces two of its stiffer challenges in Weeks 2 and 3. Conference play begins early with a contest vs. Cincinnati, followed by a non-conference tilt against Virginia Tech.

Sept. 1 vs. Youngstown State^ (6-5)

Sept. 6 at Cincinnati* (10-3, 5-2)

Pitt won its last trip to Nippert Stadium in 2010.

Sept. 15 vs. Virginia Tech (11-3)

The Panthers are slated to become cross-division rivalries with Virginia Tech once Pitt joins the ACC, but the match-up gets to an earlier start.

Sept. 22 vs. Gardner-Webb^

GWU is Pitt’s second FCS opponent. Pitt is facing the same shake-up in its schedule due to realignment that placed two FCS teams on Cincinnati’s docket. FCS programs like GWU will pick up these games on late notice, because the six-figure paydays that they entail are boons to the athletic budget.

Oct. 5 at Syracuse* (5-7, 1-6)

Oct. 13 vs. Louisville* (7-6, 5-2)

Oct. 20 at Buffalo (3-9)

Oct. 27 vs. Temple* (9-4)

Nov. 3 at Notre Dame (8-5)

Notre Dame leads this longstanding rivalry, 46-20-1. After a two-year absence in 2006 and 2007, it was renewed in 2008 and played every season since. In that team, each program has established a two-game win streak. Notre Dame currently enjoys its.

Nov. 9 at Connecticut* (5-7, 3-4)

Nov. 24 vs. Rutgers* (9-4, 4-3)

Dec. 1 at USF* (5-7, 1-6)