What If Boston College Never Left The Big East? As Told By WhatIfSports.com

Part two of a three-part sponsored post series examining the intersection between college football and technology. Today, I use Foxsports.com's What If Sports college football simulator to determine if BC would have gotten over the BCS Bowl hump if they had stayed in the Big East.

Say what you will about ACC football the past five years, but the ACC has arguably been a better football conference than the Big East the last 5+ seasons. After this past weekend's games, the Big East looks to be the worst of the BCS conferences.

Heading into the last five weeks of the college football regular season, here is a look at the current Big East standings:

Pittsburgh 5-3 (3-0)
Syracuse 6-2 (3-1)
South Florida 5-3 (2-2)
Rutgers 4-4 (1-2)
West Virginia 5-3 (1-2)
Connecticut 4-4 (1-2)
Louisville 4-4 (1-2)
Cincinnati 3-5 (1-2)

Unlike the ACC, where two or three teams have clearly emerged as the conference front-runners (Virginia Tech, Florida State and N.C. State), with five games to go it's really anyone's conference. This year's Big East champion and BCS representative will likely have a) Been smoked by Miami and lost to a Notre Dame team that has already lost five games (including losses to middling Navy and Tulsa) and will struggle to become bowl eligible, b) a team who claims half their wins against Akron, Maine and Colgate, c) a team that claims over half their wins against Stony Brook, Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic or d) a team that lost to Tulane. At home.

And that's just the top four teams in the current Big East standings. I guess it's still entirely plausible that any of the 5 teams sitting at 1-2 could still win the conference.

At this point, I'm wondering how bad TCU really wants a BCS auto-bid. Shouldn't they just sign on the dotted line and take the Big East's auto-bid for each of the next five seasons?

The Big East's recent struggles got me thinking. What if BC never left the Big East? For a program that's come oh-so-close but hasn't gotten over the BCS bowl hump, I'm wondering how many BCS bowls the Eagles would have gone to if they had stayed in the conference.

We can get a sense of how many Big East Championships the Eagles would have won using WhatIfSports.com's college football simulator.

For our purposes, let's assume for a minute that the Big East still expands by adding Conference USA's Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida (and passes on, say, DePaul as a basketball-only member). That leaves Big East football with nine conference members and an even eight game schedule. Second, we'll also assume that the ACC (somehow) doesn't poach another Big East member to round up to an even 12 teams. As unrealistic as that scenario may have been, we'll assume that Syracuse stays put and the Big East stands pat at nine football-playing schools. Finally, we'll also assume that the outcomes from every other Big East football game from 2005-2009 remain the same.

In 2005, BC would have likely picked up where they left off on their Big East schedule. That means that they would have gone on the road to play Connecticut, Rutgers and Syracuse and played West Virginia and Pittsburgh at home. Add newcomers Cincinnati, Louisville and USF to the schedule (2 home, 1 away) to round out the 2005 schedule.
Here is how the Eagles would have fared in 2005 (click on the final score for an expanded box score):

Week Opponent Location Score
Week 1 at Connecticut Rentschler Field W 10-3
Week 2 West Virginia Alumni Stadium W 27-20
Week 3 at Rutgers Rutgers Stadium L 34-31
Week 4 Cincinnati Alumni Stadium W 27-7
Week 5 at South Florida Raymond James Stadium L 14-7
Week 6 Louisville Alumni Stadium W 26-24
Week 7 Pittsburgh Alumni Stadium W 34-3
Week 8 at Syracuse Carrier Dome W 41-9

Note that these are first run simulations only. Do I think that the 2005 Eagles beat the 2005 version of the Scarlet Knights or the Bulls a majority of the time? Sure. But winning college football games on the road is tough to do and BC hasn't exactly been the best road trip the last few seasons.

These simulations give BC a 6-2 record in conference. Combine that with a 3-0 record in non-conference games (at BYU, Army, Ball State), and the Eagles would have been 9-2 heading into bowl season.

The problem is that West Virginia went a perfect 7-0 in conference that season, en route to an 11-1 record and a 38-35 win over Georgia in a displaced Sugar Bowl game in Atlanta (moved from New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina). Even with the head-to-head victory over the Mountaineers, the Eagles would have fell a game short of a Big East championship.

With a record of 9-2, BC wouldn't have gotten the nod as a BCS at-large in 2005. Remember that year, the BCS hadn't moved to a fifth BCS National Championship game yet. That would come in time for the end of the 2006 season. The only two "at-larges" that year were 9-2 Ohio State and 9-2 Notre Dame, both selected by the Fiesta Bowl.

So no BCS bowl for BC in 2005. What about the last four seasons? We'll take a look at the other seasons over the next week. In the meantime, you can run your own college football simulations over at WhatIfSports.com.

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