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Bowl Watch Week 10: Virginia Stumbles Again

But they are still in control of their own destiny.

NCAA Football: Duke at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers suffered another disappointing road loss on Saturday at Louisville. And let’s be honest, these bowl watch columns are a lot more enjoyable to read (and write) when the Hoos win. From this fan’s perspective, it feels UVA’s season has reached a bit of a crossroads. Consider:

On the bright side, the Hoos are only one win from being bowl eligible for the third year in a row. This would be only the fifth time in school history that UVA makes it to three consecutive bowl games. It would be a notable accomplishment when it happens.

Also, Virginia still sits atop the ACC Coastal division, though it’s now tied with North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech. The Hoos still control their own destiny and they can take a major step forward by beating UNC on Saturday. A 2019 ACC Coastal title would be one of the best football moments in school history.

But on the downside, Virginia has squandered any breathing room it had in the ACC Coastal race and in the ACC bowl pecking order with its two losses at Miami and Louisville. After starting 4-0 and leading Notre Dame at halftime, the Hoos have lost three of their last four. Their showdown against UNC is now a must-win. If Virginia loses Saturday, this season’s luster will completely wear off and fan interest will wane. Don’t forget...basketball season starts next week.

All in all, Bronco Mendenhall’s club can still finish strong and complete a great - and maybe even historic - season. But if the Hoos stumble again, we might all look back on 2019 as a big missed opportunity.

Current Bowl Projections

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

Bowl Watch Week 10

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

At this time last week, Virginia was slotted to make a Florida bowl game in ten of the eleven media projections we track. The picture is much less clear now. Most projections have Wake Forest (6-1, 4-1 ACC) moving into the Orange Bowl slot and 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

  • 17%
    Camping World Bowl vs. Texas - Orlando, December 28
    (19 votes)
  • 35%
    Music City Bowl vs. an SEC team - Nashville, December 30
    (39 votes)
  • 29%
    I Wouldn’t Go To Either
    (33 votes)
  • 18%
    I Would Go To Either One
    (20 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now

What’s Happening With Virginia:

Sagarin Rankings

Virginia fell back again in the Sagarin rankings with its loss to Louisville. The Hoos rank higher than all of their remaining opponents, but Sagarin only gives them a 50-51% percent chance of beating North Carolina.

Future Opponents:

39 – Virginia

46 – @ North Carolina

71 – Virginia Tech

95 – Georgia Tech

125 – Liberty

Virginia remains ranked higher than all but one of its previous opponents. It has now lost to two lower-ranked teams.

Previous Opponents:

14 – @ Notre Dame LOSS

39 – Virginia

40 – Florida State WIN

48 – @ Pittsburgh WIN

49 – Duke WIN

50 – @ Miami LOSS

58 – @ Louisville LOSS

170 – Old Dominion WIN

186 – William & Mary WIN

Grouping the Games

Here’s how the schedule looks currently:

Remaining Must-Win:

  • Liberty (5-3) Home, November 23
  • Georgia Tech (2-5) Home, November 9

Remaining Favorable:

  • Virginia Tech (5-2) Home, November 29

Remaining Toss-Up:

  • North Carolina (4-4) Away, November 2

Both Techs were off last week, while Liberty fell to Rutgers and North Carolina won in the last-second against Duke.

At 5-3, Virginia needs just one more win to be bowl eligible. The Hoos will need every win they can get, however, to avoid falling into a less desirable ACC bowl game.

What’s Happening Upstream?

Clemson beat the pulp out of Boston College and remained on track for the College Football Playoff. Notre Dame, however, lost badly at Michigan, which is significant for ACC bowl purposes. Notre Dame is a LOT less likely now to make it to a New Year’s Six Bowl game, which means it will compete with other ACC teams for bowl slotting.

The Camping World Bowl would be the biggest beneficiary of Notre Dame’s loss (and Oklahoma’s loss to Kansas State). For weeks the Camping World folks were looking at a game matching Wake Forest, Pitt, or Virginia against Baylor, Iowa State, or Oklahoma State. Now they could potentially host Notre Dame against Texas: a matchup that would sell a lot more tickets and garner a lot more TV viewers.

As for the Orange Bowl, Wake Forest currently looks like the front-runner for the ACC’s slot. The Deacs are just inside the Top 25 and only have one loss.

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?

Virginia wasn’t the only team to lay an egg on Saturday: Pittsburgh, which had moved into a tie with the Hoos for first place in the ACC Coastal, fell at home to Miami. The Panthers have five wins, along with Virginia, Louisville, and Virginia Tech. Behind them are Florida State, Boston College, Duke, and Miami at four.

This traffic jam of mediocrity will need to shake out before bowl destinations become clear.

Games To Monitor This Week

Virginia at North Carolina -

The Oldest Rivalry in the South is the fulcrum game for Virginia’s season: win it and an ACC Coastal title is within reach. Lose it and the focus turns to Virginia Tech on Black Friday. No pressure, Hoos.

Virginia Tech at Notre Dame -

With two wins over FCS teams, Justin Fuente’s squad still needs to find two more victories to go bowling. The Hokies close with the Irish, Pitt, Wake, and Virginia. It won’t be easy -- but nothing would galvanize the Gobbler supporters like an upset in South Bend.

Miami at Florida State -

Willie Taggart probably needs this one more than Manny Diaz, but both teams need to win to keep to sustain their bowl hopes. The Noles still have to travel to Boston College and Florida. If they lose this one, they’ll probably be home again for the holidays.

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

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