Sunday, November 27, 2011

postseason update

OK, so, that happened.  Do we need to rehash it much?  I don't think we do.  Let's just go with this: if they'd offered us 8-4 before the season, I'd've taken it and so would you.  Time for bowls and basketball.

Today, bowls.  The wide expansion of possibilities was going to get much narrower this weekend regardless of the outcome, so here's where we stand.  The top four bowls are basically out:

-- Orange Bowl, obviously. 

-- Ex-Peach Bowl will almost certainly take the loser of the ACCCG.  If that's VT it's even more certain.  Supposedly they won't want to take Clemson and Auburn because that's their season kickoff matchup next year, but I'm not sure that's a thing, really - remember what short attention spans football fans have.

-- Even if they don't take Clemson, they'll take FSU and then Clemson will just go the CS Bowl.  Or they'll take Georgia Tech and FSU will go to the CS Bowl and Clemson will go to the Sun.

-- And as for the Sun, word on the twitters and elsewhere is that the Sun won't pass on Georgia Tech, if available.  Media and Twitter rumors can be unreliable but, truth be told, when it comes to bowl selections they are usually more reliable than most rumors.

-- And as mentioned last week, the Military Bowl is officially out as a possibility.  Only six teams (VT, Clemson, FSU, GT, NC State, and WF) can legally be chosen ahead of us, which drops as far as 7th at worst, and the Military Bowl is 8th.  The conference's only other bowl-eligible teams are UNC and Miami; the latter of which has pulled themselves from consideration and both of which are two games worse in the conference standings.

So regardless of how it all shakes out or how much the Peach likes the idea of all these Clemson-Auburn games, some combination of VT, Clemson, FSU, and GT is going to the top four.  So the next pick is.....

-- The former Tire Bowl (Charlotte)

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

Finally, a little bit of clarity in the Big East.  Louisville has clinched at least a share of the Big East title.  Cincy and WVU can each do the same by winning next weekend.  Unfortunately, there's a triangle of doom there: Louisville beat WVU which beat Cincy which beat Louisville.  So that tells you how the tiebreakers will go if it's a two-way tie between Louisville and someone; if it's a three-way tie, the Big East champ is probably WVU.  The tiebreaker rules state that in that case, the highest-ranked team in the BCS wins the BCS auto-bid, but the catch is that that shitty conference doesn't have anyone ranked in the BCS.  However, WVU does get a couple votes in the Harris Poll.

In order of desirability, those teams are probably ranked like so: WVU, Cincy, Rutgers, Louisville.  So WVU and/or Cincy are the most likely Big East reps here.  The CS Bowl has the #2 pick from the Big East, but they're wisely going to exercise their option to take Notre Dame here, which really means the Department Store Bowl has the second pick, and my bet is they'll take whichever of WVU and Cincy doesn't go to the Orange Bowl.

As far as UVA's chances?  They are OK, but NC State may have leaped in front of us with that awesome comeback against Maryland.  (I'm not even mad.  That's amazing.)  The ex-Tire folks have a choice now.  Team A has a history of success in that bowl and of bringing a lot of fans, is in a state right next door, and has a one-game better record.  (Bowls like to flaunt the records of their teams, and 7-5 says "whew, just made it.")  Team B beat Team A and has all its fans within 3 hours, tops, of Charlotte and half of them within 30 minutes of the stadium.  My guess is they'll go with NC State, but UVA will get strong consideration.

(Late edit: Forgot to include in my thinking the fact that Cincinnati and NC State already played this season.  I don't think the bowl people would mind a rematch if that game hadn't been a blowout, but the Pack got murdered.  Since I think their Big East choice is basically either WVU or Cincy, if WVU gets to the Orange Bowl then I expect that Charlotte would take UVA over NC State so as to avoid a rematch.  NC State's draw in the state isn't so awesome that having Louisville would make up for it.)

-- Music City Bowl (Nashville)

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

You know these people have to be giddy as hell over Vanderbilt's bowl eligibility.  The SEC has a clear top five, with #6 being Auburn and #7 being Florida, if only because of fanbase and following.  Auburn's probably going to Atlanta, and I'll be awfully surprised if Florida doesn't go to the Gator Bowl.  I think it's slightly possible the Gator passes on them, but I emphasize "slightly."

That leaves the Music City, the Liberty, and the SEC to sit down and discuss the fates of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.  And come on - the Music City is not gonna let Vandy go without a fight.  The Liberty Bowl is in Memphis, so that's not much of a stretch either, but putting Vandy in the Music City and the Bulldogs in Memphis makes the most sense from a fanbase proximity standpoint.

And where UVA is concerned, if we're still available here, the Music City people could theoretically pick Wake Forest over us, but.....don't be silly.  If they get Vandy, well, those two just played, and Wake got rolled.  And nobody picks Wake Forest anyway if they don't have to.  Tiny alumni base.  If they get Mississippi State, there is a very slim chance they could take Wake, but they won't.  If at some point, Vanderbilt is announced as a Music City Bowl participant with opponent TBA, expect that opponent to be UVA.

-- Independence Bowl (Shreveport)

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

All the stuff I've said in the past about who the Independence people will take from the MWC, SDSU with a big fanbase etc. etc., still applies.  UVA is not likely to drop this far, but just in case we do, figure on SDSU.


So, in order from most likely to least, here are what I think are the realistic matchup possibilities:

UVA vs. Vandy (Nashville)
UVA vs. Cincy (Charlotte)
UVA vs. Miss. St. (Nashville)
UVA vs. WVU (Charlotte)

The rest?  Not really in the realm of the likely.  And it's not that WVU is likely to be picked over Cincy, it's just that I think they're more likely than Cincy to end up as Big East "champion."  If you can consider yourself the champion of that turd pile. And if you want a prediction out of me?  It'll be  Vanderbilt.  Call it the Smart People Bowl.  It'd be a road game, essentially, but very winnable, and even if we lose it'll be fun watching Marylanders squirm over James Franklin beating UVA.

(Late edit part 2: It makes sense though, if you buy the other stuff I'm saying, that if I think West Virginia will make the Orange Bowl, that I ought to be predicting UVA/Cincy in Charlotte instead.  Therefore the predictions are shuffled a bit from before.)

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