A mountain to climb

It could have been a potential Big East championship game – an event that doesn’t actually exist – but it’s not.

Then again, it’s a game that’s not even supposed to be happening this weekend.

If not for Hurricane Wilma, the Bulls could already know their bowl plans – if any – by Saturday.

However, with No. 12 West Virginia coming to Raymond James Stadium and the Mountaineers clinching their third-straight Big East title – their first since 1993 – USF will be playing for not only its seventh win, but its first bowl game in its ninth season as well.

The Bulls have two shots at a bowl game. The Meineke Car Care Bowl is the last bowl available with Big East ties, as Rutgers is headed to the Insight Bowl and No. 16 Louisville is going to the Gator Bowl. In addition, No. 6 Ohio State will probably receive an at-large bid to the Fiesta Bowl, which means the Big Ten does not have enough bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of its bowl tie-ins, leaving the Motor City Bowl available to a Big East team.

Connecticut (5-5) faces the Brian Brohm-less Cardinals at Louisville on Saturday as well. If the Huskies and their No. 6-ranked defense pulled an upset over the Cardinals and the Bulls lose their fifth game to WVU, the Motor City Bowl would be the Bulls’ last option, as Will Webb, the Meineke Car Care Bowl president, and company would probably choose Connecticut over USF.

So while most fans – and media – were hoping for a winner-take-all Big East BCS showdown Saturday, the Bulls’ postseason chances and hopes have essentially been taken out of their hands.USF will still have those hands full with West Virginia, as Mountaineers quarterback Pat White rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns against Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving. Also coming out of the backfield is running back Steve Slaton, who leads the team with 13 rushing touchdowns.

Keep an eye on: The Bulls’ rushing game. After a dismal game for running back Andre Hall against Connecticut, where the senior only had 93 yards, expect Hall to try to reverse the funk he felt from not just the high-20s temperature in East Hartford, but the frostbite from the Huskies defense as well.

Quarterback Pat Julmiste will try to move past a game in which he threw three interceptions and had a fumble. The junior has been consistent at home, where the Bulls are undefeated this season, going 32-for-58 passing and throwing for 414 yards.