There are four possible bowl destinations for the Hokies this postseason — the Russell Athletic, Sun, Belk and Music City bowls. I wrote about the possibilities in today’s paper here.
A lot might depend on what exactly the NCAA decides to do with Georgia Tech, which has filed a waiver to be eligible even if it loses the ACC title game to Florida State and falls to 6-7. Problem is, the NCAA explicitly states where 6-7 championship game losers fit on the bowl pecking order. And it’s not favorable for the Yellow Jackets, since there are already enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the spots this year. (This new rule was written in after UCLA filed for a waiver and got it last year). So it could be a BCS-or-bust situation for them.
But, how the NCAA rules is anybody’s guess. And reading up on stuff from the Georgia Tech side, school officials seems confident the waiver will be granted. So everyone will have to wait to see how that plays out. In the meantime — and yes, this is a blatant way to get some free blog posts in a down week — I’ll take a look at each of the Hokies’ possible bowl destinations this week, starting with …
Russell Athletic Bowl
** Where: Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.
** When: Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
** In ACC bowl pecking order: No. 3
** Hokies history at bowl: Never been
** Possible opponent: The Big East’s No. 2 selection. There is still a scenario where the Big East can have a four-way tie for champion between Rutgers (5-1), Syracuse (5-2), ,Louisville (4-2) and Cincinnati (4-2). But Rutgers and Louisville play each other this week, with the winner earning the league’s automatic berth to a BCS game, so that’s pretty clear. The loser falls into a group of teams who could go to Orlando, along with Syracuse and Cincinnati. The Bearcats would not be attractive if the Hokies are involved, since the two played in the regular season and bowls prefer to avoid rematches. Syracuse is 7-5 overall, so it might not be the most attractive team. The most likely scenario is that the loser of Rutgers-Louisville, who would still be 9-3 overall, would get picked for this game.
** ACC competition: It comes down to N.C. State, Georgia Tech and possibly Duke. The Yellow Jackets, as I mentioned in the story at the top of this post, would need a waiver to be approved to play in a bowl game at 6-7. Even then, they wouldn’t be attractive for the game, being under .500 and having lost two straight games. Also, if Georgia Tech is eligible, Duke couldn’t be selected for this game, since the Blue Devils, at 3-5 in the league, aren’t within the “one-win” rule for selection. N.C. State or Virginia Tech could be selected ahead of a 5-3 Georgia Tech, since they both went 4-4 in league play. If the Yellow Jackets upset FSU in the ACC title game, there’s no choice for the bowl. It will be required to take FSU or Clemson, whichever team the Chick-fil-A Bowl passes on.
** Pros for Virginia Tech: The Hokies have never been to the Russell Athletic Bowl (formerly the Champs Sports, formerly the Tangerine, formerly the MicronPC, formerly the Carquest, formerly the Blockbuster, formerly the Sunshine Classic). They’ve always been slightly above the bowl in the selection process since joining the ACC. This could be a year for the bowl to get the Hokies. Going to a new place might invigorate a fan base that doesn’t figure to be very motivated to travel this postseason. The biggest competition, N.C. State, just fired coach Tom O’Brien, so who knows if that will play into the bowl’s decision? Plus, the Wolfpack have played in this bowl five times in its 22-year history, including as recently as two years ago, when it beat West Virginia 23-7. Would the N.C. State fan base really be motivated to travel there again so soon?
** Cons for Virginia Tech: N.C. State finished 7-5 this season. Virginia Tech was only 6-6. That might not sound like a big difference, but sometimes bowls prefer to take a team with a winning record, just for appearance’s sake.
** Flight price (leaving Dec. 27, coming back Dec. 29, per Orbitz): From Roanoke — $572, from Norfolk — $482, from Newport News — $521, from Lynchburg — $485, from Richmond — $446, from D.C. — $530, from Greensboro — $404.
** Roadtrippin’ it? 696 miles from Blacksburg to Orlando. 11 hours, 41 minutes, according to Google maps.
** Tourist attraction of note: Disney World, of course.
** Beat writer happiness level: High. It’s a warm-weather location, which is always a plus. Playing the game so close to Christmas isn’t ideal, nor is a 5:30 p.m. start time, which makes for a tougher deadline that you would think. A possible Rutgers or Louisville matchup would be intriguing, though.
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