The BIG EAST Conference announced Tuesday its new football divisions for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. UCF will be grouped with Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers and USF in the East Division.
Current Conference USA members Houston, Memphis and SMU will be featured in the West Division along with Boise State, San Diego State and Temple.
“This new alignment gives the Conference and its fans the best of both worlds – national exposure that is a result of the BIG EAST being in six of the top 10 U.S. media markets – with a schedule that focuses on spirited regional rivalries,” BIG EAST Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco said.
According to the BIG EAST, the alignment will likely be revisited after the 2014 season, when the U.S. Naval Academy and possibly other schools begin play in the conference.
“I think there are some awful good teams they took in the BIG EAST, even if you look at the top 25 now, there’s teams represented,” UCF head coach George O’Leary said. “What I see is very competitive, and you have got teams that have been to BCS bowls that are represented on both sides of that division.”
The champions of both divisions will meet in the BIG EAST Football Championship Game, which will take place at the home field of one of the participating teams.
“This unique combination of nationwide scope and regional flavor reflects our commitment to innovation in response to the changing landscape in college football,” Aresco said, “while honoring a tradition of success on the field and in the classroom.”
Aresco continued: “Combined with the extension through 2026 of our historic relationship with Madison Square Garden for the BIG EAST Basketball Championship, the new BIG EAST Football Championship Game will provide two signature events of national significance in college sports.”
Starting in 2013, UCF and the rest of the BIG EAST will play eight league games, including five against divisional rivals. The home and away opponents for each school will be announced after the BIG EAST athletic directors’ annual meeting in New York on Dec. 3.
Against its newest divisional foes, UCF has never faced Cincinnati or Connecticut on the gridiron, but squared off with Louisville in 1985, Rutgers in the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl and USF each year from 2005-08.
In the West Division outside of current C-USA schools Memphis, Houston and SMU, UCF has not played Boise State, San Diego State or Temple since the program’s inception in 1979.
This season, the Knights are in first place in the C-USA East Division with an 8-2 overall record and a 6-0 mark in league play. They travel to Tulsa Saturday at 12 p.m. ET on FOX Sports Networks. The Golden Hurricane pace the West Division with an identical record. A UCF victory would clinch its fourth East Division crown in eight seasons in the league, while it also would earn the right to host the 2012 C-USA Championship Game Dec. 1.
UCF football single-game tickets for the regular-season finale vs. UAB Nov. 24 start at just $25. Order today by calling the UCF Ticket Office at (407) UCF-1000 or visiting UCFAthletics.com. Attending a UCF football game is a great way to celebrate birthdays, corporate outings or any special occasion. Please ask about group packages today.
2013 and 2014 BIG EAST Football Divisions