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Bowl Watch Week 4: The ACC Is A Circus

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But someone has to be the ringleader.

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Florida State v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Three weeks into the college football season, the ACC has distinctively looked like a basketball conference. Consider some of these lowlights:

  • Georgia Tech lost to The Citadel.
  • Boston College got blasted by Kansas a week after Kansas lost to Coastal Carolina.
  • Virginia Tech lost to said Boston College and needed a comeback to beat Furman.
  • Florida State is a missed Louisiana-Monroe extra point from being 0-3.
  • NC State got throttled by a West Virginia team that lost to Missouri by thirty.
  • Syracuse lost to Maryland by 43 a week before Maryland lost to Temple.
  • Pitt wasted an upset chance against Penn State through mind-numbing incompetence.
  • The Manny Diaz Era at Miami started 1-2.

As my man Pete Campbell would say…

Of course, the Virginia Cavaliers avoided their own embarrassment Saturday night with a comeback win against Florida State. And the Hoos, ranked #21 in the most recent AP poll, appear to be sitting pretty in the ACC’s bowl pecking order.

Still, let’s take a moment and express our gratitude that college football is not a meritocracy. Somehow, some genius ACC operatives convinced eleven gullible bowl game executives to legally obligate themselves to take teams from this beloved clown show of a conference. If they hadn’t, everyone but Clemson, Virginia, and Wake Forest would be sitting at home this winter.

Rant over. Let’s move on.

Where We Are

The Sagarin rankings are also a bit of a circus this week. UVA dropped six spots after beating FSU, but the Noles rose eight spots despite losing. Miami rose eight spots for beating FCS foe Bethune-Cookman, but Virginia Tech dropped thirty spots for beating FCS foe Furman. Liberty jumped 35 spots for beating Buffalo, but Old Dominion sank 20 spots without playing.

As a result of all of this nonsense, Virginia now sits higher than seven of its nine remaining opponents.

9 – @ Notre Dame

20 – @ Miami (up from 27)

28 – Virginia (down from 22)

32 – Florida State WIN (up from 40)

39 – @ North Carolina (down from 33)

42 – @ Pittsburgh WIN

52 – Duke (down from 47)

58 – @ Louisville (up from 68)

85 – Virginia Tech (down from 56)

88 – Georgia Tech (down from 54)

124 – Liberty (up from 159)

161 – William & Mary WIN

162 – Old Dominion (down from 142)

Grouping the Games - Week 4 Update

At 3-0, Virginia is only three wins from bowl eligibility. The Hoos only need to win their two remaining “must-wins” and one of their remaining “favorables” to go bowling for a third straight year. Here’s how the schedule shakes out at the moment:

Remaining Must-Win:

  • Old Dominion (1-1) Home, September 21
  • Liberty (1-2) Home, November 23

Analysis: ODU had the week off and will come to Scott Stadium fresh and hungry for another program-defining upset. Virginia a 28-point favorite, but so was Turkey Bacon Tech last year when it lost to the Monarchs in Norfolk. Liberty got its first win of the season, meanwhile, and should make it two in a row when it plays Hampton on Saturday.

Remaining Favorable:

  • Duke (2-1) Home, October 19
  • Louisville (2-1) Away, October 26
  • Georgia Tech (1-2) Home, November 9

Analysis: Duke and Louisville are starting to look dangerously competent. I can envision a scenario where either or both of those games gets moved into the toss-up category at some point. Georgia Tech...not so much.

Remaining Toss-Up:

  • Miami (1-2) Away, October 11
  • North Carolina (2-1) Away, November 2
  • Virginia Tech (2-1) Home, November 29

Analysis: North Carolina came darn close to completing another fourth-quarter comeback against Wake Forest. It will be interesting to see how the Heels bounce back this weekend against Appalachian State. Meanwhile, Miami and Virginia Tech continue to be two of the league’s most disappointing teams.

Longshot:

  • Notre Dame (2-0) Away, September 28

Analysis: Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book threw for 5 TDs and ran for a sixth as the Irish routed New Mexico. All attention will be on Notre Dame as it travels to Georgia this weekend.

Current Bowl Projections

For the second week in a row, Virginia was a unanimous Orange Bowl pick in the media bowl projections. Now there might be some folks on Facebook who tell you that we should all “take it one game at a time” and that bowl projections at this point are “meaningless.” To them I’d quote coach Tony Bennett: “Joy comes in the morning.”

I get a lot of joy on Sunday mornings when I get to read bowl projections after Virginia victories.

Potential SEC Opponents:

College Football News has Virginia in the Orange Bowl against Florida (Miami Gardens, December 30). ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura, USA Today, The Sporting News have the Hoos squaring off against LSU.

Potential Big Ten Opponents:

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach stuck with his UVA-Wisconsin matchup.

Potential Other Opponents:

CBS Sports and SB Nation/Banner Society continue to have the Hoos tangling with Notre Dame. Brett McMurphy, Sports Illustrated, 247 Sports now do as well.

Analysis:

Games To Monitor This Week

Virginia vs. Old Dominion - I grew up five miles from ODU’s campus and know the fanbase well. In December 1994, I watched the Monarchs upset the eventual Elite Eight-bound Cavaliers at the Norfolk Scope. I cheered my tail off for ODU that night. Jeff Jones’s squad had no answer for P-town legend Petey Sessoms.

I note all that to say that ODU will throw everything it has at Virginia on Saturday. It might not be enough -- UVA is favored by 28 -- but nothing would mean more to the Monarch faithful than pulling an upset here. The Hoos can’t get caught looking back to FSU or ahead to Notre Dame.

Notre Dame at Georgia -

Speaking of Notre Dame, the Irish will be the toughest opponent Virginia faces all season. But just like Virginia has to guard against a letdown this week, there’s a chance that Notre Dame will have to guard against a letdown next week. Wahoo fans should cheer for a tough, physical, exciting, overtime thriller in this one.

Louisville at Florida State -

Mack Brown’s return at UNC has generated more headlines, but it’s possible Scott Satterfield’s debut at Louisville has been more impressive. The Cardinals challenged Notre Dame in Week 1 before easily dispatching two lesser opponents. They could make a big statement with an upset of Florida State this week. On the flip side, FSU looked much more inspired against Virginia than it did against Boise State or ULM. It’s unclear if that enthusiasm will continue.

That’s it for now. As always, stay HYPED, fans. I’ll see you back here next week.

Until then, Go Hoos.