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Bowl Watch Week 11: UVA Finds Another Gear

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With a favorable balance of the season, where will our heroes end up?

NCAA Football: Virginia at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Virginia picked up a massive win at North Carolina Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak and boosting their chances of winning the ACC Coastal Division in the process. The Hoos can wrap up the Coastal with home wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.

By beating the Tar Heels, the Virginia Cavaliers also clinched bowl eligibility and improved its chances of going to an attractive bowl game. Bronco Mendenhall’s team once again distanced itself in the ACC bowl “standings,” and now has the luxury of three-straight home games to end the season. Unlike its ACC Coastal foes, Virginia has moved past the most difficult part of its 2019 schedule.

Before we dive into bowl projections, it’s worth noting what UVA has accomplished under Mendenhall. Virginia missed the postseason nine out of eleven times from 2006 to 2016. That dismal stretch cratered the program’s perception and fanbase. A once-proud outfit under George Welsh in the eighties and nineties, Virginia became a laughingstock and league doormat.

The rebuild isn’t done yet, but Mendenhall has guided the Hoos to three-straight postseasons. It’s a stretch of continued competence that seemed out of reach for a generation of Wahoo football fans.

Current Bowl Projections

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

Bowl Watch Week 11

Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
247 Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Florida
USA Today Camping World Bowl December 30, 4PM Texas
Sports Illustrated Camping World Bowl December 30, 4PM Kansas State
Bleacher Report Music City Bowl December 30, 4PM Missouri
ESPN - Schlabach Music City Bowl December 30, 4PM Mississippi State
CBS Sports Music City Bowl December 30, 4PM Kentucky
Brett McMurphy Pinstripe Bowl December 27, 3:20PM Michigan State
ESPN - Bonagura Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM Washington State
Sporting News Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM California
SB Nation/Banner Society Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM Washington State
College Football News Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM Arizona State
Athlon Sports Sun Bowl December 31, 2PM Arizona State

Virginia continues to pick up a smattering of nods for Florida bowl games, but the trend keeps moving in the other direction. Almost all of the media has Wake Forest (7-1, 5-1 ACC) moving into the Orange Bowl slot. Most continue to have Notre Dame dropping down to the Camping World Bowl. That leaves the Hoos fighting for ACC “Tier 1” games with teams like Pitt, Louisville, and Virginia Tech.

Poll

Which Game Would You Be More Likely To Attend?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Sun Bowl vs. Arizona State - El Paso, December 31
    (36 votes)
  • 37%
    Pinstripe Bowl vs. Michigan State - The Bronx, December 27
    (106 votes)
  • 46%
    I Wouldn’t Go To Either
    (133 votes)
  • 3%
    I Would Go To Either One
    (11 votes)
286 votes total Vote Now

What’s Happening With Virginia:

Grouping the Games

Here’s how the schedule looks currently:

Remaining Must-Win:

  • Georgia Tech (2-6) Home, November 9
  • Liberty (6-3) Home, November 23

Remaining Favorable:

  • Virginia Tech (5-3) Home, November 29

While the players turn their focus to Georgia Tech, fans will undoubtedly start to look forward to the Black Friday rivalry game against Turkey Bacon Tech. The Gobblers have played better of late; they damn near beat Notre Dame on the road Saturday despite starting their third-string quarterback. It’s possible I could end up moving that game back to a projected toss-up.

Sagarin Rankings

Virginia yo-yo’d back up again in the Sagarin rankings with its win over North Carolina. The Hoos rank higher than all of their remaining opponents, and Sagarin only gives them a 95% chance of beating Georgia Tech.

Future Opponents:

33 – Virginia

65 – Virginia Tech

99 – Georgia Tech

121 – Liberty

The Sagarin rankings highlight the relative softness of the rest of UVA’s schedule. I can’t remember a season in which Virginia has surged in November. But they’re currently favored projected to go at worst 3-1 this time around.

Previous Opponents:

14 – @ Notre Dame LOSS

33 – Virginia

43 – @ Miami LOSS

47 – @ Pittsburgh WIN

49 – Florida State WIN

51 – Duke WIN

53 – @ North Carolina WIN

57 – @ Louisville LOSS

163 – Old Dominion WIN

178 – William & Mary WIN

What’s Happening Upstream?

Clemson beat a high school team on Saturday and remained on track for the College Football Playoff. The Tigers came in fifth in the initial CFP rankings, however, so their place in the playoff field is far from a done deal. Notre Dame used a last-minute touchdown drive to nip the Hokies at the buzzer. The Irish kept their ever-so-slim New Year’s Six hopes alive as a result. Wake Forest, meanwhile, beat the stuffing out of NC State.

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

At #19, Wake seems to have the inside track on the league’s Orange Bowl berth. Even if the Deacons lose to Clemson, I have a hard time seeing another ACC team jump them in the ratings at this point. Virginia or Pitt could make it interesting by running the table and playing Clemson close in the ACC title game.

If Notre Dame doesn’t sneak into the New Year’s Six, it’s tough to envision a scenario in which the Camping World Bowl would pass them over.

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

What’s Happening Downstream?

Virginia Tech missed out on a golden chance to get a statement win against Notre Dame. The Hokies still need to win two of four to go bowling. Their final stretch include Wake, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and UVA. They could end up coming to Charlottesville with bowl eligibility on the line.

Boston College and Miami each moved closer to being bowl eligible, while NC State, Florida State, and Syracuse suffered losses. The Seminoles fired coach Willie Taggart mid-week...prepare for a dumpster fire down the stretch in Tallahassee.

Games To Monitor This Week

Virginia vs Georgia Tech -

There isn’t much to say about this weekend’s Homecomings game against the Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers just need to win, stay healthy, and keep making progress. They opened as 16.5-point favorites.

Wake Forest at Virginia Tech -

This is such an intriguing game for Virginia fans. Wake Forest needs to keep winning to keep its Orange Bowl hopes alive. Tech needs to keep winning to ensure a winning season. It’s a pivotal game for both teams. A Wake Forest win would also help Virginia in the ACC Coastal race.

Louisville at Miami -

The two ACC teams that beat UVA will square off in Coral Gables, and the winner would take a big step forward in the bowl pecking order. A Miami loss would also help Virginia in the ACC Coastal race.

That’s it for now. I’ll see you next week, fans.

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