1) Georgia Tech had its waiver approved by the NCAA to be bowl eligible should it lose the ACC title game and fall to 6-7, according to ESPN. Read the quotes in the story from the MAC commissioner, who is rightfully ticked, since it’ll probably be one of his eligible teams that gets pushed out of a bowl.
This probably shouldn’t affect anything with the Russell Athletic Bowl. It’d be surprising if that bowl opted for a 6-7 team, considering it hasn’t taken a 6-6 team since it moved up to getting the No. 3 pick in the ACC and No. 2 in the Big East. I still think, should Florida State win the ACC title game that Virginia Tech has a good shot of getting picked for Orlando, given N.C. State’s coaching situation and the Wolfpack’s recent visit to the game.
The ACC still has a rule that the title game loser can’t fall below the Sun Bowl in the selection process. If that’s still in effect, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t go below fourth in the bowl pecking order, should they lose the conference championship game.
2) Louisville beat Rutgers last night, which all but gives the Cardinals the Big East’s BCS berth (the tiebreaker is highest BCS ranking, which Louisville currently has and figures to keep Sunday). That takes the Cardinals out of the running for the Russell Athletic Bowl, which will choose from a group that includes Rutgers, Syracuse and Cincinnati.
If Virginia Tech is picked, it’s unlikely that the bowl would go with Cincinnati, since the teams played in the regular season. Overall, Rutgers (9-3) has a better profile than Syracuse (7-5), despite their identical 5-2 conference records. The Scarlet Knights also won the head-to-head matchup 23-15, although that seems to matter little in the selection process.
** When: Dec. 27, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)
** In ACC bowl pecking order: No. 5
** Hokies history at bowl: Never been
** Possible opponent: The Big East’s No. 3 selection. It looks as though it will come down to Rutgers, Cincinnati and Syracuse. The Russell Athletic Bowl gets the first pick of the trio as the Big East’s No. 2 selection. The Belk Bowl goes next. Who Charlotte goes with probably depends on the ACC choice. Like Orlando, it would avoid a Virginia Tech-Cincinnati rematch if those teams were still available. Figuring Rutgers goes to the Russell Athletic, that leaves Cincinnati and Syracuse. The Bearcats won the head-to-head matchup 35-24 – again, that doesn’t mean a whole lot — and should it beat UConn this week in its regular season finale, would finish with a 9-3 record to Syracuse’s 7-5 mark, making it a more attractive option.
** ACC competition: A lot depends on what happens ahead of the Belk. Georgia Tech, should it lose the ACC title game, can’t fall below the Sun, so it wouldn’t be an option here. That leaves whoever is left of N.C. State, Virginia Tech and Duke. All three are within easy driving distance of all three schools. N.C. State played in the game last year. Virginia Tech has made a trip to Charlotte in three of the last four seasons (two ACC championship games and a neutral-site game against East Carolina in 2008), so it’s probably not a hot destination for Hokies fans. It could be for Duke, which is bowl eligible for the first time since the 1994 season and has some forward momentum with its program for once. That’s not to say Blue Devils fans will travel in droves — it is basketball season, after all — but a drive of a little more than two hours seems like a favorable setup for fans who aren’t accustomed to the bowl experience.
** Pros for Virginia Tech: Charlotte’s close, so it wouldn’t be too hard for fans to zip down the interstate to attend the game. For a fan base that’s not particularly enthused about a postseason trip this year, a bowl that’s within driving distance might be the only thing that gets people to go. The Hokies have never played in the bowl, so the Belk folks might love to have them for a first time.
** Cons for Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech fans are very familiar with Charlotte, so the quick drive might not be a selling point. If Cincinnati is the bowl’s choice from the ACC, there’d be little desire to see a rematch in a bowl game (even though the Hokies likely wouldn’t mind some payback).
** Flight price (leaving Dec. 25, coming back Dec. 28, per Orbitz): From Roanoke — $482 (just drive, man!), from Norfolk — $285, from Newport News — $296, from Lynchburg — $496 (seriously, just drive); from Richmond — $261, from D.C. — $218, from Greensboro — (yeah, I’m not even listing this)
** Roadtrippin’ it? 173 miles from Blacksburg to Charlotte. Two hours and 41 minutes, according to Google maps.
** Tourist attraction of note: NASCAR Hall of Fame
** Beat writer happiness level: Low. Nothing against Charlotte — it’s a fun town — but the beat has been there, done that. It’d be a pretty easy trip, one that we could probably navigate around Christmas and New Year’s. The matchup against the Big East’s No. 3 team isn’t too exciting. Virginia Tech plays Big East teams all the time.
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