Big East Shoots For Perfect Bowl Record

When asked at the post game trophy presentation following Louisville's 24-13 Orange Bowl victory over Wake Forest Tuesday night about the lack of respect the BIG EAST received during the regular season, Cardinals head coach Bobby Petrino had the perfect response: "What's our record in bowls this season?"

Everyone knew the answer, including the Louisville faithful at Dolphins Stadium who let out a roar upon hearing Petrino's rhetorical question.

Four-and-oh, with one to go.

Should Cincinnati defeat Western Michigan in the inaugural International Bowl on Jan. 6, the Conference will have a "Bowl Season For The Ages."

It would mean that the BIG EAST finished the bowl season at 5-0 and would mark the first time in the Bowl Championship Series era that any charter BCS conference has gone undefeated. It would also be just the second time in history that any of the "Big Six" conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-10 being the others) finished a bowl season undefeated with at least five bowl qualifying teams. The only other time was in 1996 when the SEC also went 5-0.

USF (9-4, 4-3 BIG EAST) kicked off the BIG EAST's bowl slate by defeating East Carolina 24-7 on Dec. 23 in the inaugural Bowl in Birmingham, Ala. The victory was the first bowl win in school history for the Bulls. The USF program began in 1997.

No. 16/17 Rutgers (11-2, 5-2 BIG EAST) beat Kansas State 37-10 in the Texas Bowl on Dec. 28 in Houston, Texas. It was the second straight bowl appearance for the Scarlet Knights, marking the first time in school history in which Rutgers accomplished that feat. The bowl win by RU was its first in program history.

In the Toyota Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, No. 13/12 West Virginia (11-2, 5-2 BIG EAST) rallied from an 18-point, second half deficit to defeat Georgia Tech 38-35. It was the Mountaineers' first-ever Gator Bowl victory and gave WVU bowl wins in back-to-back seasons. Last year, West Virginia defeated Georgia 38-35 in the Nokia Sugar Bowl.

The BIG EAST finished the 2006 regular season with a 32-8 (.800) mark versus non-conference opponents, including 11-7 (.611) against teams from other charter BCS conferences. The league's winning percentage versus non-conference opponents (.800) was already the best in the history of the league. With four more wins coming in bowl games, the BIG EAST has improved its non-conference record this season to 36-8 (.818).

The BIG EAST has posted unbeaten bowl marks twice in league history (1991, '95) with both instances coming in years the conference participated in just two games. If the BIG EAST was to win its final two games and run the table in its five-game bowl slate, the league would register its best bowl season (5-0) in conference history.

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