Sunday, November 20, 2011

postseason update

In case you were wondering (I was) this is what it looks like:

And it is coming to a University of Virginia near you.  It might not be the most historic of trophies or trophy games, but it does actually have a neat back story.  Arizona and ASU claim their Territorial Cup is the oldest trophy in college football (the object itself, not the game in playing for the object), but they only started making the Territorial Cup a thing in 2001, and this pitcher is actually far, far older than their silly western cup.

Every single player yesterday can give themselves a big fat pat on the back.  Kevin Parks for breaking the freshman TD record at UVA.  Kris Burd for moving into 2nd place on UVA's all-time receptions list.  Drequan Hoskey(!) for a huge, huge end zone pass breakup on FSU's last series.  Bill Schautz for exploding around the edge and forcing an E.J. Manuel fumble and for a terrific pass breakup on his final play of the season.  (Haven't felt worse about an injury in a long time.)  Mike Rocco for standing in the pocket like a professional and delivering two picture-perfect touchdown drives.  Perry Jones for a terrific touchdown catch.  Everybody.

Chase Minnifield, however, gets the game ball.  For hauling ass downfield, tackling Bert Reed at the 1, and setting up the defense to hold FSU to a field goal.  Saving those four points out-and-out won the game, and I don't want to hear anything about how people might've made different decisions being down by 10 instead of 6 and so on and etc.  Not for a play like that.

But the title promises postseason talk.  The postseason - after losing to NC State about four eons ago, that felt just as it had for the past three long seasons: nothing most than a ghost story.  You best start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner.  You're in one.  Next Saturday is the division championship game.  It's Hoos and Hokies for the season.  Bowl games?  It's the postseason right now.

But let's take a cursory look at the bowls anyway, just because that's what we do.  And this week, we're looking at all the bowls.  Time to start thinking with a winner's mentality.  Everything's on the table.  And just to switch things up, we'll start at the bottom.

-- Independence Bowl (Shreveport)

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

Thanks to Miami removing themselves from consideration, the Military Bowl is officially out of the running for UVA.  Miami is self-banned and UNC can't catch up in the rankings, so only six teams can be selected ahead of the Hoos.  So the Independence Bowl, picking 7th, is the worst-case scenario.

And I continue to maintain that no sane bowl official will choose Wake Forest over UVA, or really, any other ACC team, if they don't have to.  Ending up here would also mean NC State got picked in front too, which I don't think will happen. Technically we could end up in Shreveport, though I'd rather not, and be playing probably Wyoming, or maybe SDSU if the bowl officials want a bigger-market team.

-- Music City Bowl (Nashville)

Matchup: SEC #7/#8
Potential opponents: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Mississippi State, at-large

Again, with that FSU pelt on the wall, I no longer think UVA drops this far.  Again again, though, possible.  All of those possible opponents, however, need to win one more.  All of them can do it - their last opponents, respectively, are Wake Forest, Kentucky, and Ole Miss.  However, right now, the SEC only has seven bowl-eligible teams, and you can bet on two of them going to the BCS, leaving five.  It may be that the Music City Bowl has to go hunting for an at-large team from like the MAC or something.  In that case we definitely do not want to fall here.

-- The former Tire Bowl (Charlotte)

Matchup: Big East #3
Potential opponents: The whole conference minus a few from the bottom

Lose to Virginia Tech, and this looks like a very likely landing spot.  You'd see one of Clemson or VT in the Orange, the other in the ex-Peach, FSU in the CS Bowl despite us beating them (I mean, they're right next door) and then....well, maybe the Sun Bowl picks us, and if they don't, these folks probably won't hesitate to snap up a next-door neighbor.

I have no idea who the opponent might be.  Louisville and Rutgers currently sit atop the Big East, which makes all the sense of a penguin in the Sahara eating a peanut butter sandwich.  That conference is absurd.

-- Sun Bowl (El Paso)

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

Both Washington and ASU completely biffed yesterday, opening up quite a few possibilities.  I do think it's most likely that the Sun Bowl takes Arizona State due to proximity, as long as Pac-12 rules allow it and also as long as they win their last game.

Beating Tech would guarantee UVA falls no lower than this bowl per ACC selection rules.  It's possible we may have already earned our way here anyway; it may depend on how bowl officials see us stacking up cash-flow-wise against Georgia Tech.

-- CS Bowl (Orlando)

Matchup: Big East #2
Potential opponents: Notre Dame or Big East mishmash

But there's no good reason to take the Big East mishmash when you can have a solid Notre Dame team.  Hmm, Cincinnati or Notre Dame, Cincinnati or Notre Dame.  Tough call.  Notre Dame, for obvious reasons, falls under the Big East umbrella for bowl tie-ins, and is almost certain to be invited to this bowl.  For equally obvious reasons, Florida State is likely to be their opponent.  We can beat the Seminoles all we want but we can't beat them so hard their fanbase moves to Idaho.  Only way FSU doesn't go here is if they go to Atlanta instead.

-- The former Peach Bowl (Atlanta)

Matchup: SEC #5
Potential opponents: Auburn, Florida

The folks in Atlanta have their eye on UVA.  But - there are obstacles.  We're not going if we lose to Tech, of course.  If we do, the Peach Bowl will simply grab the ACCCG loser between Tech and Clemson.  That much is obvious.  If we win, and then lose the ACCCG, then what?  The Peach's options would be 10-2 VT, 9-4 UVA, or 8-4 FSU.  (Probably they wouldn't take them at 7-5 in the event of a loss to Florida.)  And honestly, I have no idea how that decision would go, but VT and FSU both have a lot more name recognition right now than we do.  So.

As for the opponent, think Auburn.  I doubt Florida will beat FSU, and if they do they'd be a viable option, but the bowl folks state they won't take a 6-6 Florida.  Win-loss record does matter for their promos (which is one reason I'm fairly confident NC State won't get picked ahead of us.)  They don't want anyone at 6-6 if they don't have to, I'm betting.  And in getting the fifth pick, they really have the sixth because two SEC teams will go BCSing.  So that means South Carolina, Georgia, etc. are out of reach.  Auburn is really the only team left worth having.

-- Orange Bowl (Miami)

Matchup: BCS at-large
Potential opponents: Whatever shitty Big East team ends up at the top of the scrum, or Houston

Here we are in dreamland.  Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view on things, the Orange Bowl has the dead-last selection in the at-large rotation.  All the good teams will be taken by then, leaving the Orange Bowl with some team that automatically qualified and nobody wants.  That's probably the Big East.  The Sugar Bowl picks one slot ahead of the Orange, and if Houston is automatically BCS-eligible (which they will be if they win out) I think the Sugar would take the team from right next door.  Obviously there's still a pile of work to be done before we have to worry about this.


So, what do I think is most likely?  There are three paths from here:

- Lose to Tech
- Beat Tech, lose to Clemson
- Win out

Door #3 is the Orange Bowl, but obviously also the least likely.  Door #2 - probably the Sun Bowl, as even then, VT will have a better record, and better name recognition too, I suspect, meaning Atlanta will pass on us.  They might not, but I think they would.  We need a few years to take care of that problem.  Door #1 means either the Sun Bowl or a trip to Charlotte for the Department Store Bowl; no way Wake gets picked over us, and I doubt NC State would, either.


Billy Bob said...

GREEEAAAATT Breakdown, Brendan.

Let's stay on hard logical, modest earth and stick with door number one.

Sun or Belk, which is more likely? Belk would be hard pressed to overlook a team right up the road.

However, I think that considering the word out from just how KICKASS this season has turned out. I think we could get a sizable crowd to Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

Surprised no mention of NC State in the Charlotte bowl analysis. If we lose to VT we'll have 5 wins, and if NC State beats Maryland, they'll have 4 wins. So Charlotte could pick either of us, and I'd expect Charlotte would pick the closest "next door neighbor." So if we're not in El Paso or better, we're probably in Nashville.

Also need to think about who you're rooting for in the GT/UGA game, which takes place just before ours. Hypothesize for a second that we lose to VT. In that case: (i) if GT beats UGA, GT goes to El Paso (no way they take unranked UVA over ranked GT); and (ii) if UGA beats GT, I have no idea what the Sun Bowl will do.

I'm rooting for GT. We'd travel poorly to El Paso and play a PAC-12 team nobody on the east coast cares about. I do like that the game is at 2pm on a Saturday, but don't like that there are 3 other bowl games that overlap the time slot. The Nashville bowl is Friday evening and has no other-bowl competition, we should travel pretty well, and we'll play an SEC team that's entirely beat-able. Seems like best case scenario for us, as long as it's not Vandy (ESPN is projecting Miss State).

Brendan said...

I think our fanbase is close enough to Charlotte that we can be safely picked over NC State there. That bowl has experience with us and knows we'll go to Charlotte. And they'd rather have an 8-4 team over a 7-5 one that needed two I-AA teams to get there. Record does matter.

@Billy Bob - I agree with the above that if we lose and GT wins, GT goes to the Sun. If we both lose, well, call it a slightly loaded tossup at 51-49 they'd take GT. I think that's how it stands.