West Virginia won a share of its record seventh BIG EAST title Thursday as the Mountaineers finished in a three-way tie for first in the final standings. The Mountaineers tied Louisville and Cincinnati for the top spot, but were awarded the BIG EAST’s automatic BCS bid based on the league’s tiebreaking procedure. Each team went 1-1 against the other tied teams, giving the bid to West Virginia as the highest ranked of the three teams in the final BCS standings.
West Virginia will face Clemson, the ACC champion, Jan. 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on ESPN. It will be the 31st bowl appearance for the Mountaineers, and their first trip to the Discover Orange Bowl. It is also will be just the second meeting between West Virginia and Clemson and their first since the 1989 Gator Bowl.
The Belk Bowl selected Louisville as this year’s BIG EAST representative, sending the Cardinals to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., for the first time. Louisville went 7-5 overall and 5-2 in BIG EAST play, tying for the BIG EAST title. Louisville enters the postseason having won six of its last seven games. The Cardinals will face North Carolina State (7-5, 4-4 ACC) Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Louisville is 3-0 all-time against the Wolfpack, though the Belk Bowl will be the first postseason meeting for the schools.
Rutgers returns to the postseason after a one-year absence as the Scarlet Knights were selected to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The Scarlet Knights, who went 8-4 overall and 4-3 in the BIG EAST will make their sixth bowl appearance in the past seven seasons, after playing in just one bowl game in their history prior to the current stretch. Rutgers will face Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 Big 12) Dec. 30 at 3:20 p.m. on ESPN. It will be the first meeting between the schools.
Cincinnati, which went 9-3 and won a share of the BIG EAST title at 5-2, was chosen for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn. The Bearcats, who have won at least a share of three of the last four BIG EAST championships, will face Vanderbilt Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. It will be the first meeting between those teams since 1980 as the Bearcats look to even the all-time series at 4-4.
Pittsburgh was chosen for the BBVA Compass Bowl at Legions Field in Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 7, when the Panthers will face SMU. Pittsburgh went 6-6 in the regular season and was 4-3 in the BIG EAST. The Panthers, who defeated Kentucky in Birmingham last year, look to extend the BIG EAST representative’s record to 6-0 in the BBVA Compass Bowl. The Panthers will face a Mustang squad that was 7-5 overall and 5-3 in Conference USA. The schools last met in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day in 1983.
The BIG EAST is a combined 20-8 in bowl games in the past five seasons.
2011-12 BIG EAST BOWL SCHEDULE
Belk Bowl • Dec. 27
Louisville vs. North Carolina State 8 p.m.
Series: Louisville leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: Sept. 27, 2007 — Louisville, 27-10
New Era Pinstripe Bowl • Dec. 30
Rutgers vs. Iowa State 3:20 p.m.
Series: First meeting
AutoZone Liberty Bowl • Dec. 31
Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt 3:30 p.m.
Series: Vanderbilt leads, 4-3
Last Meeting: Oct. 4, 1980 — Vanderbilt, 23-6
Discover Orange Bowl • Jan. 4
West Virginia vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m.
Series: Clemson leads, 1-0
Last Meeting: Dec. 30, 1989 — Clemson, 27-7
BBVA Compass Bowl • Jan. 7
Pittsburgh vs. SMU 1 p.m.
Series: Tied, 2-2-1
Last Meeting: Jan. 1, 1983 — SMU, 7-3