Sunday, November 13, 2011

postseason possibilities

Time to see how the postseason picture shakes out with only two more games to go.  First, the chances of getting to the ACCCG in Charlotte.  I was gonna hold off on this just because, but UVA just guaranteed itself a winning record yesterday, which is nice.  Even more importantly, the Coastal Division race stands with all but two teams eliminated.  One of them is UVA.  Anyone who predicted before the season that the Coastal Division would come down to Virginia and Virginia Tech, no you didn't.

(In case you don't believe me on this, here's your process of elimination.  Obviously, teams with four or more losses are out; Georgia Tech has three, and the only way they get on top of the division is in a three-way tie with UVA and VT.  That would give us the division because the only way there's a three-way tie is if VT loses out - meaning to UNC and us - and we lose to FSU as well.)

Basically, then, here's your Coastal Division scenarios.  UVA plays FSU next weekend at 7:30, and VT hosts UNC at 8:00.  VT clinches if they win and we lose, which is unfortunately the most likely possibility.  UVA cannot clinch next weekend; even if we win and Tech loses, it only sets up a tie to be broken in Scott Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend.  So - we lose, Tech wins, they get the division.  Any other outcome - either a UVA win or a VT loss - sets up a divisional showdown.  Of course, you're rooting for the Hoos in Tallahassee, but you're rooting almost as hard for the Heels in Blacksburg.  (Heather Dinich says, "UVA needs to win out" but that is not true unless she's assuming VT will beat UNC.  Don't be confused.)

So where does that leave us bowl-wise?  I'm sorry to say that the win yesterday renders one of my predictions likely false; UVA almost certainly won't go to the Military Bowl in DC, as I projected before the season.  Well, not that sorry.  At this point, there's just no way that seven ACC teams are ahead of us in the bowl hierarchy.  NC State probably cost itself bowl eligibility with their bed-shitting in Boston - as was pointed out to me as a reminder, they need seven wins because two are against I-AA teams.  That means beating Clemson next weekend.  You never know, but probably not.

Wake Forest and Miami can still make bowl eligibility, and I think probably will, but even if they do, no sane bowl official will take Wake and its tiny tiny alumni base over Virginia.  That leaves a maximum of six teams ahead of us.  And Miami isn't well-known for filling up stadiums or traveling well.  Maybe they pick Miami for name recognition, maybe not.  Anyway.  The Military Bowl is basically out, and it looks like the ACC won't fill a Hunger Bowl slot either.

I'm still not gonna bother with the Orange Bowl or either of the two bowls after it, not just yet.  Those would require wins against teams that are theoretically or actually better than we are.  But since we're talking about getting to the ACCCG, let's at least start with the minimum prize for making it to Charlotte.....

-- Sun Bowl (El Paso)

Matchup: Pac-12 #4
Potential opponents: Washington, Arizona State, Utah, California, UCLA

The Pac-12 is Oregon and Stanford, then the ineligible USC, then a big soup.  I think that Washington and Arizona State are the best teams of that bunch, but it's kind of hard to say.  ASU and U-Dub seem likely to finish 8-4, so I expect one to be third and one fourth.  In that case, whichever the Holiday Bowl doesn't pick will go to El Paso; both bowls would probably prefer the much closer and rather larger ASU.  However, in order to get here, UVA will have to pull off probably two upset wins.

-- The former Tire Bowl (Charlotte)

Matchup: Big East #3
Potential opponents: Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers

Again: soup.  The Big East is a competitive race, no doubt about that, but chock-full of mediocrity.  I was hoping Cincinnati would maybe eliminate themselves from this possibility by getting a leg up on the conference with a win over West Virginia, but, no, they suck too.  UVA will probably need to pull off at least one upset to get to this bowl.

-- Music City Bowl (Nashville)

Matchup: SEC #7/#8
Potential opponents: Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State

Now here is a bowl I think UVA has already earned its way into even at 7-5; the question then is, who do bowl organizers like?  This bowl has the 6th pick.  If we lose the next two to go 7-5, that puts Clemson, VT, FSU, and GT ahead for sure, with UVA in a mix with UNC and Miami.  Miami doesn't travel well, and UNC has a chance to play its way out of consideration for finishing ahead of UVA, or might be pick #5 in Charlotte.  If you subscribe to the idea that FSU and VT will each be too big of a hurdle - certainly a major possibility - this is a likely landing spot.

As for the opponents, Auburn looks very likely to be the 6th team in an SEC hierarchy.  UGA, USCar, LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas are the top five, in some order.  Florida has finished their SEC season at 3-5, which is guaranteed to be below Auburn at (likely) 4-4.  However, the Gator Bowl has 6th pick, and never underestimate the draw of Florida in their home state.  Auburn could drop.  The other variable, of course, is the BCS, which could very easily take two SEC teams.  In fact, it probably will.  That bumps Auburn up even further, so really they're just here as a contingency.  In that case Florida is definitely not getting past the Gator Bowl, and that leaves you with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.  In that case the Music City Bowl is very, very likely to try and engineer Vanderbilt into the matchup for obvious reasons.

-- Independence Bowl (Shreveport)

Matchup: MWC #3
Potential opponents: San Diego State, Wyoming

This is the other likely invite at 7-5, and the worst-case scenario besides.  And I don't mean that to sound bad.  The MWC structure is TCU, then Boise, then one of these two teams.  Wyoming beat SDSU earlier this year and will likely finish a game ahead in the standings, but San Diego is the obvious choice from an eyeballs and butts perspective.


There you have it then.  I'm off to watch the basketball.  Get excited for prime time next Saturday.


Anonymous said...


I've always wondered about a single question; How is Virginia at bringing people to bowls. We have a decent head count but are easily one of the smallest state schools and we are not exactly Clemson in terms of hard core fanbase.

Shreveport would suck for everyone except some SEC people and even then I doubt they'd be crazy about going there cause, well, there's NOTHING THERE.

Belk or Military would be much better options to ensure good turn out.

Since you think we have a good chance of going to Nashville, a second question is how good do you think the turn out would be for the Music City Bowl?

Anonymous said...

Are you being harsh on Dinich? Since Tech is already one game ahead, if we lose to FSU and Tech beats UNC, don't they clinch the Coastal? At 5-1 vs 4-3, even if we beat them on Thanksgiving, we're still 5-3 vs. 6-2?

Anonymous said...

Apologies - I totally misread what you wrote. You can continue to be harsh on Dinich and anonymous commenters like me!

TBS said...

Impressed as always with your thorough detailed posts. Good luck with the rest of your games and beating your archrival VT, something we unfortunately weren't able to do Thurs. That was pathetic how we couldn't stop the QB sneak from gaining 7-15 yds. We didn't deserve to win after that lack of effort and physicality. It was quite discouraging, to say the least.

Brendan said...

The one UVA bowl game I've been to - the Tire Bowl against Pittsburgh - UVA represented well. Quite a bit better than Pitt did, anyway. The stadium wasn't full but I'd say at least 2/3 of it was UVA.

I seem to recall the turnout for the Gator Bowl against Texas Tech as being less impressive, but my memory of that one is hazier.

I don't think we have a great traveling reputation, though. Relatively small school and a pessimistic fanbase.

We would definitely show up in Nashville in far greater numbers than in Shreveport. A lot of it has to do with whether you can drive or if you must fly; Nashville is on the edge of driving distance, depending on one's tolerance for the road and amount of vacation days. The date is better too. The Independence Bowl is on December 26, which means you better not have Christmas plans, or else you better like early-ass flights. The Music City Bowl is December 30, which is a Friday - almost perfect. I think the turnout would be decent for the Music City.

Anonymous said...

You said, regarding the Nashville bowl, "the question then is, who do bowl organizers like?"

But this is true of all of the bowls after the top 3. Nobody outside of FSU/Clemson/Tech projects to finish with more than 5 wins, which means the Sun Bowl and down can choose any 4- or 5-win program. We're already at 4 wins, so, from the Sun Bowl down, it's all about whether they think we're the right financial play. The teams that project to 4 or 5 ACC wins are us, GT, Wake and Miami. In most years, we'd be the cream of that (miserable) crop in terms of traveling value, but in this rebuild, who knows?

The exception to the above would be if a 4/5 win ACC team finishes 6-6 overall. IIRC, a 6-6 team can't go bowling unless it's conference has an open slot. And that will probably come into play: Wake (Maryland and Vandy remaining) and Miami (USF and BC remaining) each needs to win out to avoid 6-6.

Also, if you think that no bowl would pick Wake over us (no idea if that's right considering how poor our attendance is), you need to root like hell for Wake to win out. Wake projects to 5 ACC wins; UNC projects to 3 ACC wins. So if Wake is in the group of teams with 4-5 ACC wins, and there's no 6-6 restriction, and we get picked before Wake, then we're not actually in competition with UNC, i.e., we're more than likely headed to Charlotte. Of course, if we just win one more game, that'll be the 2-game separation we need from UNC to be sure we stay ahead of them.

Anonymous said...

Re above, I think they did away with giving bowl preference to 7-win teams over 6-win teams last year. Just reinforces the points made: need to root for Wake over Maryland if we think some bowl might pick us over Wake (but not UNC).

Brendan said...

The rule used to be that a 6-6 team couldn't go bowling until all the 7-5-or-better teams got invited. But Anon #2 is right in this case; that rule was scrapped last year. Turns out that 7-5 Akron or FIU or whoever travels like ass even compared to the 6-6 Wake Forests of the world, and are worse teams besides, and the bowls didn't like it.