Monday, December 12, 2011

bowl rankings

Specifically, today it's all about the 17 bowls that UVA has gone to in the past.  We have a rich tradition of going to bowls named for car parts stores and the now-defunct MPC Computers.  UVA has been to 17 bowl games, and 11 distinct ones; four New Year's Day bowls; eight different states (Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Hawaii, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Idaho.)  Three games have been played against future conference rivals.  Three have been played against Georgia.  From bottom to top, here are the seventeen bowl games UVA has partaken of.  In this ranking, consideration has been given to opponent, bowl prestige, and of course, outcome.  Oh, and I still don't use corporate names, except when it amuses me to do so.  So there might be a little confusion, but as usual, you're smart people and I think you'll figure it out.

#17 - 1999 Bowl - Illinois 63, Virginia 21

Sponsored by a now-dead computer company.  Wait, no.  Sponsored by the now-dead computer company's website.  Even the technology company that exists almost entirely online and sponsors what used to be known as the Copper Bowl had the good sense to take ".com" off the bowl name, because everybody mocks the idea.  MicronPC was owned by a company that still exists, spun off and sold (and went on to become MPC Computers and sponsored the bowl in Boise), and died in bankruptcy court a few years ago.  So now we have two separate names of a defunct computer company sitting proudly on our stadium.  Woo corporate assholery.  For those trying to keep score, this game was played in Miami, and it was our third trip to this bowl, but it is now the one played in Orlando that isn't the Citrus Bowl.

Even worse, we got our asses kicked.  By freaking Illinois.  Coached at the time by Ron Turner, who sandwiched this season in between a 5-6 one and a 3-8 one, and would eventually be fired for having his last two seasons be 1-11 and 3-8.  UVA was down 42-7 at halftime, so it wasn't fun.  And at the time, I was in a holding pattern with UVA because I'd been turned down for early decision and was put in with the regular crowd, and would have to wait another three months to find out the good news.  So I didn't hardly even know what to think about this.  Bummer, yes, but you don't want to get too into it til you know for sure, you know?

#16 - 2000 Oahu Bowl - Georgia 37, Virginia 14

This wasn't competitive either.  And it was a lousy way to send off both George Welsh, and poor injury-riddled Dan Ellis, who was just back from injury and got hurt again.  Thus was born the really lame quarterback play-until-you-suck platoon that lasted all through 2001, as both Bryson Spinner and Matt Schaub played in relief of Ellis.

Plus, the Oahu Bowl (which at the time was essentially the little brother to the Aloha Bowl) was in its final incarnation, and would become the Seattle Bowl the following year and play its last game ever the year after that.  It was pretty minor stuff.

#15 - 2004 Humanitarian Bowl - Fresno State 37, Virginia 34

This was just plain depressing.  UVA started the season 5-0 and ranked #6 before finishing 3-3.  Then, the school declined a CS Bowl bid because it took place during final exams.  Georgia Tech would end up in Florida.  That wound us up in snowy Boise on the blue turf, against feisty Fresno State, and the game was all ours and then it wasn't, with an OT loss on Fresno's first play.  And for those of us watching on TV, we got to listen to the dulcet tones of Pam Ward.

Oh, and that CS Bowl that Georgia Tech got into because of our academic standards?  They won it 51-14.

#14 - 1991 Gator Bowl - Oklahoma 48, Virginia 14

Great bowl game.  (The Gator Bowl held quite a bit more cachet than it does today.)  Great opponent.  Miserable-assed outcome.  Even with ACC Player of the Year Matt Blundin, UVA was down 34-0 before they knew what hit 'em.  This was even less competitive than the Illinois game that would come eight years later - at least that one was tied at 7 at one point.  And yet it's still better than losing to Fresno State in Boise with Pam Ward calling the game.

#13 - 1994 Car Parts Bowl ('93 season) - Boston College 31, Virginia 13

This was a pretty good game for two quarters.  UVA was up 13-10 at one point - and then never scored again.  Until the 2007 season, this was the last time UVA ever played on New Year's Day.

#12 - 1996 Car Parts Bowl - Miami 31, Virginia 21

Now we're getting to the part where losing doesn't suck 110%.  UVA spent most of this game behind, but you couldn't fault the defense; Miami's offense only managed 17 points in this one.  The rest was the Canes' Tremain Mack, who scored a pair of defensive touchdowns to propel Miami to the victory.  The Hoos had to play catch-up all day, but at least gave themselves a shot to win.

#11 - 2008 Gator Bowl - Texas Tech 31, Virginia 28

A heartbreaker no matter how you slice it.  UVA forced not one, but two safeties against the high-powered Texas Tech air assault, led by Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, and held a 28-14 fourth-quarter lead.  Mikell Simpson had a 96-yard touchdown run, which at the time was an NCAA bowl record and is still the 2nd-longest bowl-game run in history.  But UVA found itself unable to escape being pinned deep in its own territory late in the fourth quarter, with starting QB Jameel Sewell out with injury and true freshman Peter Lalich running the show.  Lalich fumbled to set up the tying touchdown, and TT would hit the game-winning field goal on their next drive.

#10 - 1990 Citrus Bowl ('89 season) - Illinois 31, Virginia 21

The kind of game you don't totally hate the world for losing.  Someone had to.  Two star quarterbacks - UVA's Shawn Moore and Illinois's Jeff George - clashed on New Year's Day in UVA's reward for sharing the ACC championship.  UVA recovered three Illinois fumbles but had to try and dig out of a 24-7 third-quarter deficit and wasn't able to.  George would later be the1st overall pick in that year's NFL Draft.

#9 - 1991 Sugar Bowl ('90 season) - Tennessee 23, Virginia 22

New Year's Day.  Sugar Bowl.  Tennessee, back when it was cool to be Tennessee.  This was possibly UVA's most prime-timey of all prime-time matchups, and it followed a season in which UVA had earned, for three weeks, the #1 ranking in the country.  UVA controlled the first three quarters, but didn't take full advantage and only led 16-3 going into the fourth, where the Volunteer offense came alive and rattled off three touchdowns.  The Hoos got the ball back with 31 seconds needing only to get to field goal range, only about 38 yards away, but Matt Blundin was intercepted to seal the win for Tennessee.

#8 - 1998 Peach Bowl - Georgia 35, Virginia 33

Between this and the Sugar Bowl it was a very, very close one to earn the title of "best loss" in the bowl department.  The Sugar is the Sugar, so there's that, but the history between these two teams, in the same stadium, tips it this direction.  Georgia earned its revenge from two years prior when UVA beat the Bulldogs in Atlanta, storming back from a 21-0 halftime deficit to take a 35-27 lead late in the game.  UVA scored what would have been the game-tying touchdown had the 2PC been successful, and recovered the ensuing onside kick, too.  But a field goal attempt as time ran out sailed wide.  Kicking woes essentially cost UVA the game, as the 2PC would've been unnecessary had another extra point not failed in the third quarter.

#7 - 1994 Independence Bowl - Virginia 20, TCU 10

The Weedeater Bowl!  The Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl - the poster child for shitty corporate bowl names.  The name so stupid it became legend.  I didn't need an inner 12-year-old to giggle about this silliness because I was 12, and even then I knew this was record-setting stupidity.  And UVA was one of the privileged few to win the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl.

The worst win is better than the best loss, and this was the worst win.  Played in a nasty rain, the game was a mud bowl with nothing especially distinguishing about the performance other than a nice defensive showing that held the Horny Frogs to 65 passing yards.

#6 - 1987 All-American Bowl - Virginia 22, Brigham Young 16

In UVA's second bowl appearance ever, it faced a formidable offense in the BYU Cougars.  UVA turned the game into a run-fest in order to keep the high-powered BYU offense sidelined, and the game plan worked to perfection.  A pair of fourth-down stands, one on fourth-and-goal from the two, cemented the win.  A solid game, but the venue (Birmingham, Alabama) and a short-lived bowl game push it down the list a little.

#5 - 2005 Music City Bowl - Virginia 34, Minnesota 31

For just the second time in its history, UVA made its fourth consecutive bowl appearance, and it turned out to be one of the comebackier games in school history.  UVA trailed 14-0 and 21-7 to start, but worked its way back and tied the game at 31 in the fourth.  Then, pinned on the three-yard line after a Minnesota punt forced by a quality defensive stand, Marques Hagans drove the Hoos down the field for what would be the game-winning field goal.

#4 - 2003 Tire Bowl - Virginia 23, Pittsburgh 16

The main story going into the game was that Pitt's Larry Fitzgerald had scored at least one touchdown in every game he'd played that season, and the story going out of it was that he didn't.  Virginia's defense came up with a great plan to stop Fitzgerald, forcing Pitt QB Rod Rutherford to throw elsewhere all day.  But what gives this game the tiebreak over the two somewhat similar games previously listed was the goal-line stand.  With the game still scoreless, UVA's defense came up with four consecutive stops on its own one-yard line, and four plays later, Matt Schaub found (fittingly) Heath Miller for a 52-yard touchdown that broke the school passing record for TDs.  That gave UVA a 7-0 lead, and the Hoos would never trail in a game that never seemed as close as the seven-point final margin.

#3 - 1984 Peach Bowl - Virginia 27, Purdue 24

We have to give UVA's first-ever bowl game some love, so here it is in the top three.  One, did I mention it was the Hoos' first bowl game ever?  Second, it gives me braggin' rights to this very day because my brother is a Purdue grad and the Hoos have not played the Boilers since.  Even though I was two when this game was played and he was a tiny newborn.  And I didn't actually become a UVA fan until sixteen years later.  Don't care.  Woot woot.  Third, it was a pretty darn good game.

UVA was down 24-14 at the half, but George Welsh must have said something fiery at halftime because the Hoos owned the rest of the game.  Purdue didn't score, and UVA racked up almost 200 rushing yards in the second half alone.  It was a pretty good quarterback battle, too, with two future NFL starters going at it in the Hoos' Majic Man, Don Majkowski, and Purdue's Jim Everett, futurely of the Rams and Saints.

#2 - 2002 Tire Bowl - Virginia 48, West Virginia 22

It was the Era of Good Feelings for Al Groh.  Optimism was high.... and UVA was snubbed.  Hoo fans were somewhat miffed that UVA slid down the bowl pecking order despite finishing with a 6-2 conference record, good for second place (and cackling with glee that 4-4 Clemson, one of the teams picked over UVA, was cornholed by 40 points.)  Partly because of this season, the ACC would later institute the rule that forbids bowls from selecting a team with two fewer conference wins than a still-available one.

But we still had to go to Charlotte to play in a brand-new bowl, in front of a sold-out and highly partisan crowd cheering its mountainous lungs out for West Virginia.  So naturally, it was a slaughter.  Freshman running back Wali Lundy ripped off four touchdowns, the Pep Band was forever banned from the bowl for tellin' it like it is about West Virginia, and UVA left with a 26-point win.  Good times.

#1 - 1995 Peach Bowl - Virginia 34, Georgia 27

Is this game #1 because of how we're going back to the Peach Bowl?  No.  Maybe?  No.  UVA never trailed, but did blow a 24-7 lead, to the delight of the hometown crowd, and UGA seemingly had the Hoos on the ropes after tying it up 27-27.  The Hoos never had an answer for Georgia's Hines Ward at quarterback (yes, the Steelers' wide receiver), who threw for 413 yards.  Timely interceptions and timely stops prevented Ward's incredible playmaking from becoming a killer.

The game ended on a thrilling note, with Georgia scooping and scoring a UVA fumble following a completed pass; UGA earned an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, kicked off from their 20-yard line, and Demetrius Allen returned it to the house to stake UVA to its eventual winning margin.  Highlights here because you love it.


-- And speaking of the Peach Bowl, it just got a little easier; no doubt you know by now that Auburn suspended Michael Dyer, and he'll miss the game.  Dyer is a Kevin Parks-type - smallish but powerfully built, with the ability to wear down a defense.  1,200 yards won't be made up for easily.  Auburn will turn to Onterio McCalebb, who is basically good-not-great and can occasionally break one but usually won't, and Tre Mason, who I don't know anything about.

-- The Mountain West is going to formally request a BCS autobid.  This opens up some amusing possibilities.  If they get it, do they tell C-USA to go pound sand, the merger is off?  If they get it, and furthermore the Big Eastish gets the boot as a result, do Boise State and San Diego State feel stupid, really stupid, or galactically stupid?  And would that be funny or uproariously funny?  So many questions.  Bet you the Big Eastish lobbies their asses off against the MWC - if the MWC gets that sweet sweet delicious autobid, it wouldn't surprise if that causes the latest Big Eastish expansion to collapse like the TCU attempt did.  Nor would it surprise if it causes Connecticut to start calling John Swofford three times daily.


Anonymous said...

I'm not ready to give Kevin Parks that much praise just yet. Dyer's a far more complete running back right now, which is no knock on Parks.

A good comp for Tre Mason is that he might be a Kevin Parks type with more carries. While both are "small", they are both solid, b/w the tackle runners with some pop.

Interesting to see that we are still heavily in on Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown. I know both those kids had once said they were going to play together in college ball, but last I checked, only Michigan and Virginia were both in their finalists, from what I recall.

Brown would be able to redshirt a year, and then be a RS Freshman in Richardson/Parks/Sheperd's junior year. Diggs would probably fight for playing time right away. I still have high doubts that both make it here (Diggs moreso than Brown), but the fact that the staff "closed" as strong as they did (we were barely considered a strong contender for both a month ago) is a testament to a job well-done for their recruiting abilities.

Anonymous said...

how realistic would it be for the big east to lose it's automatic qualifier and for the MWC to gain it?

i thought that that was a far-fetched scenario?

Anonymous said...

Brendan would love a blogpost about a few topics

1. True and rFreshman grades?

2. I know you have the season preview maybe a season review for Offense/Defense or position group/Individual grades?