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Bowl Watch Week 8: The Miami loss hurt

Where do the experts think the Cavaliers will be playing this postseason?

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

Virginia suffered a tough loss against Miami in Week 7, losing All-American Bryce Hall and giving a dreadful red zone performance in the process. The loss tightened the race in the ACC Coastal Division and muddied the league’s bowl picture.

UVA still remains the choice du jour in a majority of media Orange Bowl projections. But the field is closing -- North Carolina, Wake Forest, and Pitt all got Orange Bowl nods from the media this week as well.

All fourteen ACC teams will play conference games in Week 8. Here’s how things look going into the league’s version “Separation Saturday.”

Current Bowl Projections

Here’s how the media currently forecasts Virginia’s bowl destination and opponent:

Bowl Watch - Week 8

Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
CBS Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Notre Dame
College Football News Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
247 Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
SB Nation/Banner Society Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Penn State
ESPN - Bonagura Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Penn State
Athlon Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Penn State
USA Today Camping World Bowl December 28, 12PM Iowa State
Sports Illustrated Camping World Bowl December 28, 12PM Iowa State
Brett McMurphy Camping World Bowl December 28, 12PM Iowa State
Sporting News Music City Bowl December 30, 8PM Stanford
ESPN - Schlabach Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM Cal

What’s Happening With Virginia:

Sagarin Rankings

Virginia fell in the Sagarin rankings with the loss to Miami. The Hoos still rank higher than all of their remaining opponents, but we said the same thing last week -- so take these with a grain of salt.

Future Opponents:

38 – Virginia

42 – Duke

43 – @ North Carolina

62 – at Louisville

73 – Virginia Tech

100 – Georgia Tech

122 – Liberty

Virginia also remains ahead of 4 of its previous opponents. Miami is the first lower-ranked opponent Virginia has lost to this season.

Previous Opponents:

11 – @ Notre Dame LOSS

38 – Virginia

39 – Florida State WIN

44 – @ Miami LOSS

51 – @ Pittsburgh WIN

156 – Old Dominion WIN

179 – William & Mary WIN

Virginia, Florida State, Duke, North Carolina, and Miami are all jumbled up in this week’s rankings. This “feels” right considering that UVA’s game against FSU and Miami, and Miami’s game against UNC were all one-possession games. Wahoo fans should expect upcoming games against Duke and North Carolina to be close as well.

Grouping the Games - One Change

A combination of Virginia’s loss and Louisville’s victory has inspired me to move the Louisville game from “favorable” to “toss-up.” The Cardinals beat previously-unbeaten Wake Forest on the road in a 62-59 thriller when Chris Paul’s desperation three-pointer clanked off the back rim.

In all seriousness...I continue to be impressed with the job Scott Satterfield is doing at Louisville. Anyone who can score 62 points should pose concern for Virginia. Either the Hoos have forgotten where the end zone is or they’ve decided to try out Apple Maps. In any case...they look lost.

Here’s how the schedule looks currently:

Remaining Must-Win:

  • Liberty (4-2) Home, November 23
  • Georgia Tech (1-5) Home, November 9

Remaining Favorable:

  • Virginia Tech (4-2) Home, November 29

Remaining Toss-Up:

  • Duke (4-2) Home, October 19
  • Louisville (4-2) Away, October 26
  • North Carolina (3-3) Away, November 2

At 4-2, Virginia remains two wins from bowl eligibility. The Hoos are about to embark on a crucial three-game stretch that could determine their bowl fate and their chances in the ACC Coastal.

What’s Happening Upstream?

Clemson and Notre Dame both continued their winning ways, though the Irish probably hoped for a bigger margin of victory against USC. Those two squads are still on target for the playoff and New Year’s Six bowls, respectively, which means neither of them would bump other ACC teams down the bowl order.

Wake Forest took a big hit with its loss to Louisville. It was the first loss of the year for the Deacs and it robbed them of an opportunity to stay above the rest of the ACC bowl pack. Wake is still an Orange Bowl pick in one of the ESPN projections...but it might have to go 10-2 to get there.

No one else is “ahead” of Virginia at this point in the ACC bowl picture.

As a reminder, the Orange Bowl picks first among non-playoff ACC teams. The Orange Bowl selection, writes Joe Giglio, will be based wholly on CFP rankings and won’t take into account TV appeal or fan travel reputation. After the Orange, the Camping World Bowl picks next, and then a tier of four bowl games (Belk, Music City, Sun, and Pinstripe) pick after that.

What’s Happening Downstream?

Unlike the Orange Bowl, the rest of the ACC’s bowl partners will take other factors into account when making their selections. That’s why it would have been nice for Virginia to remain above the fray. Alas...that didn’t happen.

At the moment, Georgia Tech is the only ACC team with dwindling bowl hopes. Everyone else is in decent shape. Duke, NC State, Louisville, and Virginia Tech all picked up their fourth wins of the season in Week 7. Miami, Syracuse, Boston College, Florida State, and North Carolina all sit at 3-3.

We’ll have a better sense of the bowl pecking order this time next week. It’s clear, however, that Virginia can’t afford too many losses and still have much control over its bowl destiny.

Games To Monitor This Week

Virginia vs. Duke

The first of three games between Coastal leaders Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina takes place this Saturday in Charlottesville. It’s UVA’s first home game in nearly a month and it couldn’t have come at a better time. It will be interesting to see how Duke’s offense attacks a Virginia defense without Bryce Hall. This is a game I’d originally pegged as “favorable” to start the season. It looms much larger now.

North Carolina at Virginia Tech

Two of Virginia’s most storied rivals clash in Blacksburg with the Tar Heels entering as slight favorites. Virginia Tech has shown signs of life with two straight wins (albeit one of them was against an FCS opponent). The Hokies need 7 wins to go bowling this year and still have Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Virginia on the schedule. This is almost a must-win for Justin Fuente’s squad.

Pittsburgh at Syracuse

Could Pitt repeat as the ACC Coastal champion? Pat Narduzzi’s squad seemingly came out of nowhere in 2018. After starting 2019 1-2, the Panthers have won three in a row and only sit a half-game out of the Coastal lead. They’re favored by 3.5 on the road at Syracuse and...get this...could be favored in the rest of their games this season.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you on Saturday at Scott Stadium, fans.

Until then, keep the faith...and Go Hoos.