NORMAN — Let's get two things straight as the Cincinnati Bearcats come to Owen Field. 1. Big East football stinks. 2. That didn't keep West Virginia from lighting up the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl and it doesn't have to keep Cincinnati from pulling a shocker today. The Bearcats are legit, with 16 starters off a team that in 2007 went 10-3 and finished 17th in the polls. But UC's conference stinks. The Big East went 4-4 last week, with all four victories coming against Division I-AA foes. When the Big East played a real team, it lost. This is a league kept alive by West Virginia, which should have been shanghaied to the ACC along with Miami and Virginia Tech. The Big East went 8-10 against fellow BCS-league foes last season, thanks to West Virginia's 3-0. And you know what happened in the Fiesta, where the better team won 48-28. But the Big East still has an image problem. Only us gridheads even know who's in the league. I asked four random Sooners this week to name Cincinnati's conference. Sam Bradford and Jon Cooper knew Big East. Alan Davis guessed Big Ten. Brandon Caleb guessed Pac-10. They don't teach geography like they once did. "I never really followed Cincinnati football,” Davis said. "I always followed Cincinnati basketball. Kenyon Martin, all those guys.” No doubt, Cincinnati is a hoops school. But it's not too shabby on the gridiron. The hire of coach Brian Kelly has been a master stroke. Kelly is 12-3 at Cincinnati. Truth is, you figured the Big East would do a lot for a mid-major football program like Cincy, which came aboard in 2005. Instead, Cincy has done a lot for the Big East. Cincinnati last season won at Rutgers and at South Florida. With Louisville's bewildering fall, Cincinnati could be poised to rise in the Big East. Will the Bearcats be another West Virginia or just another Big East rumdum? No better place to start finding out than Owen Field.