Three teams in the Big East play home games regularly at NFL stadiums, while Cincinnati hosts matchups sporadically at Paul Brown Stadium.
Though the venues aren't imposing as several stadiums in the SEC, the home games are valuable recruiting tools for the conference. For big occasions, the stadiums provide a distinct advantage for the home schools. Here's our list of the top 5 homefield advantages in the Big East.
1. Syracuse -- Carrier Dome: Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Syracuse was a perennial contender for the Big East title, the Carrier Dome could be deafening.
In 2000, Virginia Tech needed a 55-yard touchdown run from Michael Vick in the final minutes to put away the upset-minded Orange. Syracuse raced out to a 14-0 lead against the No. 2 Hokies behind a dominating performance from Dwight Freeney. The Colts' defensive end recorded 4.5 sacks, eliciting a roar from the crowd of 49,033 each time. The jingle of keys from the student section on every third down from the Hokies' offense provided Vick with fits.
The Carrier Dome can still be a challenging venue for top teams, as West Virginia can attest. Last October the Mountaineers, then ranked No. 15 in FBS, struggled to contain the Orange offense in a 49-23 loss.
2. Pittsburgh -- Heinz Field: The Panthers' fans can create a raucous atmosphere similar to the Oakland Zoo environment at the Petersen Events Center in basketball.
It gets particularly loud for nationally-televised night games such as one in 2003 vs. No. 10 Miami (Fla.). The Hurricanes contained Larry Fitzgerald in the 28-14 win. The crowd had more to cheer about later that season when Fitzgerald led a 31-28 upset of then-No. 5 Virginia Tech. In a cold, gray, snowy atmosphere late in 2009, the Pitt fans helped the Panthers race out to a 31-10 lead against an undefeated Cincinnati team. The Bearcats still clinched a BCS spot after rallying for an improbable 45-44 win. It remains as one of the wildest games in Heinz Field history.
3. Rutgers -- High Point Solutions Stadium: The atmosphere at Rutgers Stadium in 2006 after an upset of then-No. 3 Louisville has left an indelible mark on Scarlet Knights' fans. When the final gun sounded, thousands of fans stormed the field creating a sea of red.
In 2009, a 12-year old boy from nearby South River, N.J. became a star on YouTube for his air-guitar impression of Bon Jovi on the video scoreboard at Rutgers' games. The young fan became a fixture when Bon Jovi songs were blared on the stadium's sound system. The stadium has provided Rutgers with an even greater homefield advantage since the completion of a $102 million expansion in 2009.
4. Louisville -- Papa John's Cardinal Stadium: Fresh from a $65 million renovation in 2010, the 53,600 seat stadium is arguably one of the nicest college venues in the nation.
As coach Charlie Strong continues to lead the revitalization of the program, Louisville football has become a hot ticket. The cost for a gameday suite for a highly-anticipated matchup can exceed $5,000. Expect the stadium to be roaring for the home finale against Connecticut on Nov. 24 if the Cardinals are in line for a conference title.
5. South Florida -- Raymond James Stadium: Historically, the stadium hasn't drawn huge crowds but the venue should be sold out for a much-hyped Sept. 29th showdown vs. Florida State.
USF drew more than 57,000 for last year's game vs. Miami (Fla.), but had only about 33,000 fans a week later against Louisville. Tickets for the Seminoles game range from $95 on the low end to a maximum of $4,400 on the online marketplace, stubhub.com. There's considerable interest in the in-state rivalry, as roughly just 300 tickets remain for sale on the website.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.