Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field is set to host the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, with kickoff scheduled for 8 PM on Tuesday, Dec. 20. Now in its fourth year, the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl will pit the Big East's No. 5 team against Conference USA's No. 2 team. The Big East representative has won each of the three Beef 'O' Brady's Bowls to date, with the Louisville Cardinals pulling out a come-from-behind win against the Southern Miss. Golden Eagles in the 2010 contest.
At present, the Connecticut Huskies and Pittsburgh Panthers are tied for the No. 5 spot in the Big East, with 5-6 records. Each team would need to win its final game in order to be bowl-eligible. With the Huskies visiting the 8-3 Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday, it'd appear as though the Panthers, who host the 5-6 Syracuse Orange, have the inside track to a Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl berth.
The C-USA picture is hazier. The Houston Cougars and Southern Miss are set to battle for the C-USA Championship this Saturday, with the winner headed to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The loser, however, could draw an at-large berth elsewhere. If that scenario plays out, the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes are next in line for a Beef 'O' Brady's bid.
SB Nation Tampa Bay contributor Daniel Russell believes another outcome is possible: in his 2011 Bowl Projections post, the Beef 'O' Brady's committee could elect to invite the Fla. International Golden Panthers to its bowl, despite their affiliation with the Sun Belt Conference. But as Russell notes, the Golden Panthers would be a strong draw in their hometown of St. Petersburg, and have the pedigree of a bowl team, with eight victories.
Check out the complete 2011 College Football Bowl Schedule at SBNation.com.