The Big East is sending a four-loss team that has not been ranked all season to the Fiesta Bowl. Its only ranked team, No. 22 West Virginia, is headed to the Champs Sports Bowl.
Six conference teams will try to make some sort of statement during the postseason. At 24-16 (60 percent), the Big East has its worst non-conference win percentage since 2005, a mark that would remain so even if the league sweeps its bowl games.
Still, plenty of Big East players and coaches had reason to celebrate in 2010, led by Connecticut running back Jordan Todman. The Rivals.com Big East offensive MVP, Todman was a workhorse back who ranks second in the nation in rushing for the BCS-bound Huskies. West Virginia nose tackle Chris Neild is our choice for the Big East defensive MVP for anchoring the nation's third-ranked defense. His coach, Jeff Casteel, is the Big East coordinator of the year; he oversees the only defense in the country that did not allow more than 21 points in a game.
Louisville earned two conference honors. First-year coach Charlie Strong is the Rivals.com Big East coach of the year for returning the Cardinals to the postseason for the first time since 2006. Strong safety Hakeem Smith, who led Louisville with 80 tackles, is our Big East freshman of the year pick after playing a key role on a Cardinals defense that finished 12th in the nation in total defense.
Particulars: 6-3/210, Soph.; Miramar (Fla.) High
Buzz: Smith, a first-year starter, led the Big East in passing efficiency and was second in passing yards per game. Only Cincinnati's Zach Collaros threw more touchdown passes (26 to 23), but Smith threw eight fewer interceptions (six).
Particulars: 6-0/215, Sr.; Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson
Buzz: Powell emerged from obscurity to rush for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns. That's more rushing yards than Michael Bush ever had in a season and the best total at Louisville since 1978 - and Powell missed a game with injury.
Particulars: 5-9/193, Jr.; North Dartmouth (Mass.) Dartmouth
Buzz: Todman split carries last season with Andre Dixon, but he proved he could carry the load this season. He averaged 143.0 yards per game with 14 touchdowns for the BCS-bound Huskies and had the second-most carries (302) in the nation despite missing a game.
Particulars: 5-9/173, Soph.; Baltimore Dunbar
Buzz: The former running back turned out to be the Mountaineers' top receiver by catching 53 passes for 757 yards and eight touchdowns. He added 151 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Particulars: 6-5/230, Jr.; Aliquippa (Pa.) High
Buzz: A new quarterback and Pitt's offensive struggles cut into Baldwin's production this season, but he still caught 52 passes for 810 yards and five touchdowns. He remains a high-level NFL prospect.
Particulars: 6-3/204, Sr.; Pasadena (Calif.) High
Buzz: After spending last season as the Bearcats' No. 2 receiver to Mardy Gilyard, Binns proved he could be the top option. He caught 75 passes for 1,101 yards and scored double-digit touchdowns for the second consecutive season (10). He has 21 TD catches in the past two seasons.
Particulars: 6-5/333, Jr.; Tamaqua (Pa.) Marian Catholic
Buzz: Ryan is a two-year starter at tackle for one of the most productive rushing attacks in the nation. He and G Zach Hurd anchored one of the top two lines in the league.
Particulars: 6-7/325, Sr.; Waterford (Conn.) High
Buzz: Hurd is a three-year starter who has paved the way for Connecticut's productive ground game. He blocked for Donald Brown in 2008 and blocked for Todman this season. The Huskies also allowed the fewest sacks in the Big East.
Particulars: 6-5/319, Sr.; Cincinnati Anderson
Buzz: Wetterer is a second-year starter who blocked for the Big East's leading rushing offense. Even in a game in which Powell was injured, Louisville rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns against Syracuse.
Particulars: 6-1/315, Sr.; Lake City (Fla.) Columbia
Buzz: Genus is the top center in the Big East for the second consecutive season. This seasons, he paved the way for TBs Mo Plancher and Demetris Murray.
Particulars: 6-2/250, Jr.; Aliquippa (Pa.) High
Buzz: Lindsey earned a starting job only after Greg Romeus was injured and ended up where Romeus would expect to be - leading the team in sacks (10) and the Big East in tackles for loss (16).
Particulars: 6-2/301, Sr., Stroudsburg (Pa.) High
Buzz: As the nose guard in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, Neild doesn't rack up huge statistics (31 tackles, three sacks), but he's the engine of the defense. He's a strong, durable anchor on the nation's second-ranked rush defense.
Particulars: 6-4/298, Jr.; Nashua (N.H.) Nashua North
Buzz: Reyes came up big in the final weeks of the season as the Huskies sealed their Fiesta Bowl berth. He had interceptions against Syracuse and Cincinnati (which included a 79-yard return), and has 37 tackles and 10 tackles for loss.
Particulars: 6-4/260, Sr.; Hollywood Hills (Fla.) High
Buzz: Sheard proved his lofty numbers last season were not just a byproduct of playing alongside Romeus and Mick Williams. After Romeus was injured this season, Sheard was the one double-teamed and he still finished with nine sacks and four forced fumbles.
Particulars: 6-1/230, Soph.; Apex (N.C.) High
Buzz: Moore was the breakout star on UConn's defense - and perhaps the entire team. He played four games last season, then burst on the scene this season with 104 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss.
Particulars: 6-1/232, Sr.; New Castle (Del.) Paul Hodgson Vocational Tech
Buzz: Syracuse is fifth in the nation in total defense thanks to the linebacker tandem of Smith and Doug Hogue. Smith has 103 tackles.
Particulars: 6-1/226, Sr.; Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Paul W. Bryant
Buzz: A mainstay on the Connecticut defense since he was a freshman, Wilson led the Big East in tackles for the second consecutive season (115). He added 10 tackles for loss, and his interception return for a touchdown was the only offensive score in the BCS-clinching win over USF.
Particulars: 6-0/190, Sr.; DeLand (Fla.) High
Buzz: In each of the past two seasons, Patrick has been the best one of the Big East's most underrated defensive players. This season, he set a career high with five interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.
Particulars: 5-10/198, Jr.; Hopkinsville (Ky.) High
Buzz: Brandon Hogan entered the season with much more fanfare, but Tandy had a career season by leading the Big East with five interceptions on a team that is 11th in the country in pass efficiency defense.
Particulars: 6-5/221, Jr.; Miami Carol City
Buzz: Sands finished last season on a hot streak, which carried into this season. Sands has 45 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and an interception, and has helped the Mountaineers lead the Big East in passing efficiency defense.
Particulars: 6-4/230, Sr.; Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson
Buzz: DeCicco has 85 tackles and five interceptions. He and FS Jarred Holley, who also had five interceptions, accounted for all but three of Pitt's picks.
Particulars: 6-0/207, Jr., Northborough (Mass.) Algonquin Regional
Buzz: Teggart was worthy of postseason honors even before the final regular-season game against USF. He hit all four field-goal attempts against the Bulls, including the 52-yard game-winner, to finish the regular season 23-of-29.
Particulars: 5-11/195, Sr.; Williamsport (Pa.) Loyalsock Township
Buzz: Hutchins doesn't have enough punts (42) to qualify for the national lead, but his 45.1 yards per kick would have ranked 13th nationally. Pitt is sixth in the nation in net punting.
Particulars: 5-10/183, Soph.; Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School
Buzz: Williams did not become a full-time kick returner until October, but he made an immediate impact with returns for touchdowns against Rutgers and Pittsburgh while averaging 42.1 yards per attempt.