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NCAA Football

Big East Football: Power Ranking the Conference

With only one week remaining in the Big East season, there are still three teams with a possibility to win the conference and go to the Orange Bowl. A week ago, six teams still mathematically had a chance. The race is closer than any conference in college football and it will all be played out on the field this weekend. Here are the power rankings for the eight teams in the conference.

1. West Virginia (8-3, 4-2): The Mountaineers are the most likely team to win the conference in a tiebreaker and play in the Orange Bowl. If they defeat South Florida on Thursday and Cincinnati beats Connecticut on Saturday, the Mountaineers will go. Quarterback Geno Smith is the best in the conference with 3,741 yards passing to go along with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions.

2. Cincinnati (8-3, 4-2): The Bearcats need a win and West Virginia loss to win the conference. After struggling against Rutgers, Cincinnati responded by hammering Syracuse over the weekend with a steady dose of Isaiah Pead. The senior running back had a touchdown on the ground and through the air. He also had a big punt return for the Bearcats.

3. Louisville (7-5, 5-2): The Cardinals are technically sitting alone atop the conference as their regular season is over. If Cincinnati loses to Connecticut, Louisville would win a tiebreaker with West Virginia and go to the Orange Bowl. The Cardinals were propelled this season by true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridegwater and the second best defense in the conference.

4. Rutgers (8-4, 4-3): The Scarlet Knights lost to Connecticut Saturday to drop them out of the race. They have had a solid season however, after they were picked to finish last in the conference. Receiver Mohamed Sanu has 109 receptions for 1,144 yards and seven touchdowns. The Rutgers defense is 12th in the country in points allowed and first in the Big East.

5. Pittsburgh (5-6, 3-3): The Panthers suffered a tough 21-20 loss on Friday in the Backyard Brawl against West Virginia and will need to recover Saturday by beating Syracuse to qualify for a bowl game. The injury to star running back Ray Graham midway through the season certainly did not bode well for the Panthers.

6. Connecticut (5-6, 3-3): The Huskies had a big win against Rutgers Saturday and now are another upset away from qualifying for a bowl game. To do that they will need to beat Cincinnati on the road. Connecticut won the conference last season, but has had a rather disappointing year in 2011.

7. South Florida (5-6, 1-5): After being ranked No. 16 at one point this season, South Florida has lost six of their last seven games, but with a win over West Virginia, they will be bowl eligible. Quarterback B.J. Daniels is one of the most explosive players in the country, having passed for nearly 2,400 yards and rushed for over 500.

8. Syracuse (5-6, 1-5): The Orange sit at the bottom of the conference with their only conference win coming against West Virginia. They have struggled mightily on both sides of the ball this season and will need an upset win at Pittsburgh on Saturday to become bowl eligible.