“Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am...”
The Virginia Cavaliers spit the bit in Derby town on Saturday, losing 38-21 to Louisville and falling to 6-4 on the season. In doing so, the Hoos lost an opportunity to distinguish themselves among a crowded field of ACC bowl hopefuls. Here’s where UVA sits in this week’s bowl projections:
Week 13 Bowl Projections
|SB Nation||Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD, December 28)||Navy|
|CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)||Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI, December 26)||Western Michigan|
|College Football News||Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD, December 28)||Navy|
|Sports Illustrated||Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI, December 26)||Central Michigan|
|ESPN (David Hale)||Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD, December 28)||Navy|
|ESPN (Kyle Bonagura)||Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD, December 28)||South Florida|
|USA Today||Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD, December 28)||Navy|
Analysis: Virginia’s ultimate destination remains hard to pin down, as evidenced by the fact that the media has them potentially landing on one of five different bowl games. But the Cavaliers are slotted mostly lower than they were last week. Six of the eight projections included here have UVA playing in Tier 2 games (the Military Bowl, the Independence Bowl, and the Quick Lane Bowl).
A number of outside factors will affect where Virginia ends up. The ACC (including Notre Dame) currently has 8 bowl-eligible teams and 9 guaranteed bowl games. Louisville and Wake Forest became bowl eligible this week. Both of them could be more desirable for certain bowl games than UVA. The Belk Bowl, for example, might prefer the nearby Demon Deacons. The Music City, Tax Slayer, and Sun Bowls might prefer Louisville and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
What’s worse, the ACC could ultimately end up with 11 bowl-eligible teams. Georgia Tech looks more likely to qualify after beating Virginia Tech. Florida State could get to six wins now that it has rescheduled its game against Louisiana-Monroe. Boston College should become bowl eligible this weekend against UConn. All of those teams could jump ahead of Virginia depending on the bowl game. BC, for example, would make a logical choice for the Pinstripe Bowl.
On the positive side, the ACC looks well-positioned to send at least one team to the College Football Playoff. The league could send a second team to a New Year’s Six bowl, in addition to filling its normal Orange Bowl slot. If, for example, Clemson makes the CFP and Notre Dame goes to the Cotton Bowl, that would open up two more ACC bowl slots. Cavalier fans should cheer for the Tigers and Irish to finish their seasons strong.
The Cavaliers aren’t passive in all of this. They can improve their bowl resume with wins over Miami or Virginia Tech in the coming weeks. Neither game will be easy, but a 7-5 or 8-4 Virginia team will probably end up in a better spot than a 6-6 Virginia team.
Virginia takes on the ACC’s hottest (and possibly best) team this Saturday when it visits Miami. The Hurricanes are undefeated and are fresh off back-to-back monster wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. You could say that the eye of their storm is headed directly for the College Football Playoff.
The Hoos would shock the college football world this weekend if they upset the Canes. I expect Miami to have a bit of a letdown this week. A noon game against Virginia won’t likely elicit the same excitement as a night game against Notre Dame. Still, Virginia will be a heavy underdog.