After seven weeks of Big East Conference schools playing non-conference opponents, the league is ready to shift into full gear. This week, six of the eight Big East programs are in action and there are just three games on the schedule. If you do the math that means there's not one non-conference contest being played this weekend.
Yes, there will be some more non-conference games sprinkled in here and there, but for the most part the race for the league's automatic Bowl Championship Series bowl berth begins this week.
Currently, the surprising Rutgers University football program has a head start on the rest of the programs as it is atop of the Big East standings with a 2-0 record -- Scarlet Knights have beaten Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. The University of Cincinnati and the Mountaineers are tied for second with 1-0 records. Pitt and the University of Connecticut are 1-1, while Syracuse and the University of Louisville are 0-1. The University of South Florida is a shocking 0-2 with losses against Pitt and UConn.
Big East Conference Standings
Looking at the preseason media poll, Rutgers (winners of four straight) was selected to finish last, while USF (losers of two consecutive league games) was picked to finish third. Pitt (a loser in four of its last five games) was projected to finish No. 2, while Cincinnati was picked sixth.
I guess, it's easy to say that this league is just a crapshoot and no expert, at this point, can truly feel 100 percent confident on selecting a league winner. Yes, WVU, which is the only Big East program ranked the AP Poll (No. 11), USA Today Poll (No. 14) and BCS standings (No. 15), is clearly the top team. But, you can't say that anyone in the conference really fears the Mountaineers.
In my opinion, this year will be a repeat of last season, which featured every Big East school mathematically in the BCS race with four weeks remaining, but with a fairly better level of football.
I say this considering that by Week 11 of last season, not one Big East school had become bowl eligible, while this season Rutgers, West Virginia and Cincinnati each have a chance to improve to six wins by Week 8. And, USF isn't far behind.
The fact is, the Big East may not have the high caliber programs of the Southeastern Conference or Big 12, but if every school thinks it has a chance of winning the race at the start it's not a bad thing -- unless, you count success not by good or bad games and wins or losses, but by how much BCS money you bring in.
Each week, SB Nation New York will bring you updates on the Big East standings and BCS bowl berth scenarios. So, for a second forget about all the expansion and conference realignment rumors and just enjoy Big East football because, who knows, this could be the beginning of the end.