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Bowl Watch: Virginia bound for the Military Bowl?

Could the Hoos end up in Annapolis this bowl season?

NCAA Football: Virginia at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Get your Sperry shoes ready, Wahoo fans. A consensus has emerged around Virginia football’s bowl destination: a majority of writers have Virginia playing in the Military Bowl in Annapolis. Here’s a look at the projections for this week:

Week 13 Bowl Projections

Site Bowl Prediction Opponent
Site Bowl Prediction Opponent
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

Commentary: Personally, I think this would be a great fit if it happens. Virginia has never played in the Military Bowl. Unfortunately, the bowl came into existence in 2008, which is around the same time UVA football went into the toilet. Losses to VPI in ‘08 and ‘14 probably cost Virginia a Military Bowl bid each time. And in the UVA’s only winning season in the last decade (long sigh), it finished high enough to qualify for the 2011 Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

Virginia’s absence from the Military Bowl has been galling given its location. The Cavalier fan base hasn’t always traveled well, but it’s reasonable to think that the Hoos could produce a solid turnout for a game this close. Annapolis is about an hour from DC, which has the highest concentration of UVA alumni of any major city in the country. And it’s a manageable drive for the UVA fans from across the Commonwealth.

Analysis: It’s important to remember that these are projections. There are a number factors that could still affect where Virginia ends up. Primarily, the Hoos could improve their bowl resume significantly with a win against Va Polytechnic on Friday.

The ACC has a rule that states that a team can’t be picked for a bowl game ahead of another team if the other team has 2 more wins. Practically speaking, if Virginia finishes 6-6, it couldn’t be picked over a Louisville, NC State, or Wake Forest team that finishes 8-4. However, it could be picked over an 8-4 team if it beats Virginia Poly and finishes 7-5. If that happens, the Hoos could potentially sneak into the Belk Bowl in Charlotte ahead of Wake.

Zooming out a level, the ACC (including Notre Dame) currently has 9 bowl-eligible teams and 9 guaranteed bowl games. Boston College became bowl eligible this week, and could be an appealing choice for the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Georgia Tech shot itself in the foot with a loss to Duke. It’s hard to see the Jackets making a bowl game at this point. In contrast, Florida State could shamelessly sneak into a 6-6 a bowl game after rescheduling its game with UL-Monroe.

What’s Next:

Virginia fans will want to pay attention to scores across the ACC on Saturday. The best-case scenario for Virginia occurs if Miami, Notre Dame, and Clemson all win, and if Georgia Tech, Duke, and Florida State all lose. Wins by the Canes, Tigers, and Irish would almost guarantee that the ACC will put one team into the College Football Playoff and two additional teams into the New Year’s Six. If that happens, it would shift everyone else two spots up the bowl ladder. Losses by the Noles, Jackets, and Blue Devils, meanwhile, would mean less competition for bowl slots.

Of course, nothing that happens around the conference will be as important for Virginia fans as what happens in Charlottesville Friday night. The VPISU game is much more than a chance to improve UVA’s bowl resume. The Cavaliers can galvanize a fan base, exorcise the demons, raise their in-state recruiting profile, break a massive losing streak, lock up a 7-win season, restore peace and tranquility to the Commonwealth, and possibly even end poverty with a win against their mouth-breathing cousins from Blacksburg. Here’s hoping they get it done. I’ll be there…I hope you will, too.