Football

Syracuse’s bowl fate remains unclear as college football season heads into final week

The Big East standings were thrown into flux last weekend with a number of surprising results, including Louisville falling to Connecticut, and Rutgers losing to Pittsburgh. So as the conference’s standings became murkier heading into the final week of the regular season, so did the conference’s representatives for its affiliated bowl games. Here are the non-Bowl Championship Series bowls that Syracuse could compete in, with CBS Sports’ projected matchups:

Russell Athletic Bowl

Date: Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m.

Location: Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, Orlando, Fla.

Teams: Big East No. 2 vs. ACC No. 3

Last year’s result: Florida State 18, Notre Dame 14*

Projected 2012 matchup: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech

The Big East’s second-place team — the loser of the game between Rutgers and Louisville — is almost certainly headed to this game. But the bowl could choose the Orange because it would create a matchup with a future Atlantic Coast Conference opponent, which could drive ticket sales. Syracuse’s explosive offense could also make the Orange a more exciting option than the Scarlet Knights. And unlike Rutgers and Louisville, Syracuse ended its season playing the best football it had all year.

*Formerly called the Champs Sports Bowl

Belk Bowl

Date: Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m.

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.

Teams: Big East No. 3 vs. ACC No. 5

Last year’s result: NC State 31, Louisville 24

Projected 2012 matchup: Cincinnati vs. Duke

Syracuse is an appealing option for the Belk Bowl because it could be billed as a future ACC game. The Orange could also draw decent attendance in North Carolina. The winner of the game between Rutgers and Louisville on Thursday is headed for a BCS bowl appearance, which means the loser of that game, Cincinnati and Syracuse would be the next teams chosen. It might depend on whether or not Belk Bowl officials believe the Bearcats’ fan base would make the trip south. If not, the Orange would likely be headed for North Carolina.

Pinstripe Bowl

Date: Dec. 29, 3:15 p.m.

Location: Yankee Stadium, New York, N.Y.

Teams: Big East No. 4 vs. Big 12 No. 7

Last year’s result: Rutgers 27, Iowa State 13

Projected 2012 matchup: Syracuse vs. West Virginia

There’s a very good chance Syracuse ends up in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Orange has a strong appeal in New York, so attendance would likely be high. Plus, it would probably be a matchup against West Virginia, renewing a former Big East rivalry. The picture will be muddled if Pittsburgh beats South Florida this weekend to become bowl eligible. Pinstripe Bowl officials could be inclined to choose the Panthers over the Mountaineers to bring back the “Backyard Brawl,” an intense rivalry between Pitt and West Virginia. That game could sell out Yankee Stadium.

BBVA Compass Bowl

Date: Jan. 5, 2013, 1 p.m.

Location: Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala.

Teams: Big East No. 5 or C-USA vs. SEC No. 8 or No. 9

Last year’s result: SMU 28, Pittsburgh 6

Projected 2012 matchup: Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Monroe

It’s hard to believe, but Syracuse could fall all the way to the BBVA Compass Bowl if the Pinstripe Bowl chooses Pittsburgh and the Belk chooses Cincinnati. The Panthers have to become bowl eligible first, though. SU could face the Southeastern Conference’s Mississippi or Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference.

—Compiled by Chris Iseman, asst. sports editor, cjiseman@syr.edu

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