Florida State (11-2) will go to the Orange Bowl. Clemson (10-2) will go to Chick-fil-A. The Russell Athletic Bowl is next, and that’s where it’s still muddled.
The Orlando-based bowl will choose among N.C. State (7-5), Virginia Tech (6-6) and Georgia Tech (6-7) to pair with the Big East’s No. 2, which most likely will be Rutgers (9-3) or Cincinnati (9-3). Conversations with people at Virginia Tech earlier this week indicated there’s a good chance the Russell Athletic Bowl could be the Hokies’ destination.
For a bowl accustomed to taking teams with 8 or 9 wins, the under-.500 Yellow Jackets would be unpalatable. The Wolfpack has the best record of the trio but, despite hiring Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren as its new head coach Saturday, will have an interim coach for the bowl after firing Tom O’Brien. N.C. State also played in Orlando two years ago.
Despite a less-than-stellar regular season record, the Hokies have never been to the game, which could make them an attractive pick for bowl officials. It would be unusual for the Russell Athletic Bowl, which hasn’t selected a six-win team since Georgia Tech in 2004. Then again, there are extenuating circumstances this year, with 8-4 North Carolina and 7-5 Miami not eligible for postseason play.
Another potential hangup would be if the Russell Athletic Bowl picks Cincinnati over Rutgers. Since the Bearcats and Hokies already played during the regular season, it’s unlikely the bowl would set up a rematch.
If the Russell Athletic chooses N.C. State, the Sun Bowl will have to take Georgia Tech, which was granted an NCAA waiver to be bowl eligible but, as the title game loser, can’t fall below fourth in the selection order, per ACC rules. That would leave Virginia Tech and Duke to fill the ACC’s fifth and sixth slots, the Belk and Music City bowls.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm updated his bowl projections late Saturday night. He had Virginia Tech in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers.
The bowl announcement will be made sometime Sunday.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Brett McMurphy tweeted Sunday afternoon that the Hokies will play in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Rutgers.
A Russell Athletic Bowl official would not confirm, saying the ACC and SEC requested that the game not publicly announce its pairing until after the BCS selection show tonight. Expect a formal announcement sometime around 8:30 p.m.
UPDATE 2: Virginia Tech still won’t officially confirm it, but whoever runs the Twitter account for Frank Beamer‘s website certainly thinks the Hokies are going to the Russell Athletic Bowl. For reasons I cannot explain, we’ll continue to wait for the official word a little later.