Digesting a busy Saturday
Saturday provided an entertaining array of conference championship games. For the first time in the past two seasons, Virginia Tech's players were here in Blacksburg watching from a television screen and not taking part in a game of their own.
In the aftermath of a wild day of football, where does it leave the Hokies in the bowl picture? There will be a definitive answer by Sunday evening. But the short answer is that they will almost certainly be left out of the Bowl Championship Series and appear on track for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
For the Hokies, perhaps the most important result of the day came out of Boise, Idaho. Boise State flattened New Mexico State, 42-7, on its famous blue turf. That makes Virginia Tech's chances of a BCS berth seem to completely vanish.
The Broncos are ranked sixth in the BCS standings, undefeated (13-0) and winners of the Western Athletic Conference championship.
Virginia Tech's best hope to sneak into a BCS game was for Boise State to lose, making Virginia Tech on a short list of attractive at-large picks for the Fiesta Bowl. Now the Fiesta Bowl has the second replacement pick (assuming Texas goes to the BCS title game) and then the second at-large selection. The bowl could set up a meeting between two schools from non-qualifying conferences: Boise State against Texas Christian. Or it could pit Boise State or Texas Christian against a program from an automatic-qualifying conference, like Iowa or Penn State of the Big Ten.
There was a second bowl game on Saturday that seemed like it could have a direct impact on the Hokies. That was Georgia Tech's 39-34 win over Clemson in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has the second pick from the ACC conference. It had three teams it could select: Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech. With the win on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets earned an automatic berth into the BCS's Orange Bowl. That leaves only Clemson and Virginia Tech as options. The Tigers are not ranked in the current BCS standings and had an 8-4 regular-season record. The Hokies are 12th in the BCS, had a 9-3 record and did not make the conference title game.
The raw data would seem to indicate Virginia Tech is the best candidate for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. But the Tigers had a strong showing against the Yellow Jackets, led by the scintillating multipurpose threat C.J. Spiller and a rising young coach in Dabo Swinney. Does that make them a more attractive candidate? Could that performance, the star power of Spiller and the fact that Clemson fans travel in droves affect the Chick-fil-A Bowl representative's decision?
In a radio interview Monday night, Virginia Tech Athletic Director Jim Weaver indicated that the Chick-fil-A Bowl would not be able to pass up on the Hokies. When Bill Roth, the host of "Tech Talk Live," asked how the Chick-fil-A Bowl could pass on the Hokies, Weaver said, “I’m not going to go down that street because I’m not sure they’re going to pass.”
While this topic provides fun fodder for conversation, it will only last for a few more hours. By Sunday night, there will be answers to where the Hokies will play this bowl season.
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