Over the last couple of weeks, Virginia Tech fans have gone from asking “will we make a bowl game?” to “will we win out and get the Orange Bowl bid?” In college football, things can change quickly.
Barring an upset, Clemson is likely to be in the College Football Playoffs yet again this season, which leaves a spot in the Orange Bowl for the ACC’s next highest-ranked team. And yes, right now there is a possibility that that team could be Virginia Tech. In fact, it likely would be the Hokies if they manage to win out.
In fact, some people in the national media are starting to realize that it’s possible for Tech to end up in Miami. This afternoon I did a Google search on “bowl projections” and came up with the following list of Virginia Tech bowl destinations…
Kyle Bonagura (ESPN): Music City Bowl vs. Mississippi State
Mark Schlabach (EPSN): Orange Bowl vs. Georgia
College Football News: Orange Bowl vs. Florida
CBS Sports: Belk Bowl vs. SMU
Athlon Sports: Belk Bowl vs. Kentucky
Sporting News: New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Illinois
While New York City in late December doesn’t sound ideal for standing outdoors for 3.5 hours, I don’t think Tech fans would complain about those other destinations. Playing Florida or Georgia in the Orange Bowl may not be ideal from a results standpoint, but it sounds quite nice in terms of destination.
Assuming Clemson makes the playoffs, there are three real candidates to take the ACC’s spot in the Orange Bowl right now: Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. None of the teams are currently ranked in the AP Poll or Coaches Poll, but all three are receiving votes.
AP: Wake Forest 38 points, UVA 12, Virginia Tech 4
Coaches: Wake Forest 45, Virginia Tech 17, UVA 12
On paper, Virginia holds the advantage. With three weeks remaining in the season, here is how each team’s schedule breaks down, starting with UVA…
Week 1: Bye
Week 2: vs. Liberty
Week 3: vs. Virginia Tech
And now the Hokies…
Week 1: at Georgia Tech
Week 2: vs. Pitt
Week 3: at UVA
And finally Wake Forest…
Week 1: at Clemson
Week 2: vs. Duke
Week 3: at Syracuse
The way I see it, Wake will lose to Clemson this weekend, but then beat Duke and Syracuse to finish their season at 9-3. Virginia will beat Liberty, and their game against the Hokies will determine whether or not they are 9-3 or 8-4 at the end of the season. If they are 8-4, I don’t see how they’d get an Orange Bowl bid over either the Hokies or the Demon Deacons.
Virginia Tech’s road is more difficult, of course. They have two road games, including a season-ending game against an in-state rival that will have basically had three weeks to prepare and get healthy. Of course, that’s also plenty of time for the Hoos to overthink it. As far as Pitt goes, their offense has been anemic, but their defense will be the best the Hokies face all season.
There’s also the possibility that the Hokies win out and face Clemson in the ACC Championship, only to have a loss in that game drop them below a 9-3 Wake Forest team that did not play for the conference championship. That’s possible, but that would be a good problem to have, wouldn’t it?
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Virginia Tech loses all three of its regular season games and doesn’t qualify for a bowl game at all. That’s what kind of season this is. We could go from thinking the bowl streak is over, to talking about the Orange Bowl, back to talking about the bowl streak being over. That’s not likely, though. Georgia Tech, Pitt and UVA all have enough weaknesses that the Hokies are bound to win at least one more. But there are no gimmes.
What do you see as Virginia Tech’s final record at the end of the regular season? Vote below in the poll.