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Bowl Watch Week 5: Survive and Advance

NCAA Football: Old Dominion at Virginia Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Cavaliers flirted with disaster in Week 4, falling behind the Old Dominion Monarchs 17-0 before rallying on the back of a stellar defensive effort. The Hoos enter Week 5 ranked 18th in the country and in the pole position for a top ACC bowl game. But Saturday’s scare against the lightly-regarded Monarchs showed just how thin UVA’s margin is.

This weekend provides a much stiffer test. Notre Dame is the best team Virginia will face all season unless it makes the ACC title game. The Irish can still make the College Football Playoff if they run the table...and the Cavaliers might be the toughest obstacle in their way.

Virginia will step onto a huge stage on Saturday in South Bend. If it wins, it could well find itself back on another big stage when bowl season comes around.

Let’s dive in.

How Virginia Stacks Up

Virginia’s Sagarin ranking dropped for the second week in a row. Once ranked as high as 22nd, UVA has seen its star fall a bit with a couple of closer-than-expected victories. The Hoos now rank above six of their remaining eight opponents.

It’s interesting to note that UVA also ranks higher than Pitt, which they beat by two touchdowns in Week 1.

11 – @ Notre Dame

29 – @ Miami (down from 20)

36 – @ Pittsburgh WIN (up from 42)

37 – Virginia (down from 28)

44 – Florida State WIN (down from 32)

47 – @ North Carolina (down from 39)

51 – Duke

69 – Virginia Tech (up from 85)

73 – @ Louisville (down from 58)

83 – Georgia Tech (up from 88)

103 – Liberty (up from 124)

140 – Old Dominion WIN (up from162)

176 – William & Mary WIN (down from 161)

Grouping the Games - Week 5 Update

At 4-0, Virginia is only two wins from bowl eligibility. The Hoos only need to win their last remaining “must-win” against Liberty and one of their remaining “favorables” to go bowling for a third straight year. Here’s how the schedule looks currently:

Remaining Must-Win:

  • Liberty (2-2) Home, November 23

Analysis: The Flames molly-whopped Hampton for their second win of the season, scoring 27 first-quarter points en route to a 62-37 victory. Liberty has a weird schedule this year -- they play two FCS opponents and New Mexico State twice -- but it’s within the realm of possibility that Hugh Freeze’s squad could go bowling.

Remaining Favorable:

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

Analysis: Both Georgia Tech and Duke had the week off. The Blue Devils get their first true measuring-stick game this Friday against Virginia Tech. Louisville meanwhile, fell 21-points behind Florida State before...stop me if you’ve heard this one...coming all the way back to take a lead into the fourth quarter. The Cardinals eventually lost, but they continue to look much better than anyone predicted.

Remaining Toss-Up:

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

Analysis: Virginia Tech had the best weekend out of this bunch simply by not playing. Miami was dreadful in a 17-12 win over Central Michigan. The Canes have a week off before hosting the Hokies on October 5. North Carolina lost its second close game in a row -- falling at home to Appalachian State. The Mack Brown renaissance is leaking oil at the wrong time: Clemson visits Chapel Hill on Saturday.


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

Analysis: Notre Dame lost at Georgia in a defensive slugfest that lived up to its billing. The Irish actually led 10-7 at halftime before falling 23-17. Brian Kelly’s team had a chance to win late before stalling on its final drive at the Georgia 38 yard-line. They opened as an 11-point favorite against UVA this weekend.

Current Bowl Projections

For the third week in a row, Virginia is a unanimous Orange Bowl pick in the media bowl projections. But before you get too excited, consider the potential opponents the Hoos could face: LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin. All of those squads would present a massive challenge and Virginia would have to play at another level to keep it close against any of them.

Bowl Watch Week 5

Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
Source Bowl Game Date and Time Opponent
Sporting News Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
College Football News Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
ESPN - Bonagura Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
USA Today Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM LSU
SB Nation/Banner Society Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Georgia
Sports Illustrated Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Auburn
247 Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Notre Dame
CBS Sports Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Notre Dame
ESPN - Schlabach Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Wisconsin
Brett McMurphy Orange Bowl December 30, 8PM Wisconsin


We know it’s only Week 5, but If Virginia were hypothetical to make the Orange Bowl, who would you prefer as an opponent?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    (50 votes)
  • 13%
    (44 votes)
  • 31%
    (100 votes)
  • 7%
    Notre Dame
    (25 votes)
  • 30%
    (96 votes)
315 votes total Vote Now

Games To Monitor This Week

Virginia at Notre Dame -

Put simply, a win against Notre Dame Saturday afternoon would be one of the best in the history of Virginia football. The last time Virginia won a matchup of two top-25 teams was in November 1998, when it completed a huge second-half comeback to beat Virginia Tech. Given the aura and history surrounding the Irish, a win this weekend would be the story of the season regardless of what happens after.

It certainly won’t be easy. Notre Dame could be banged up after the Georgia game, but it will still have a major talent advantage. The most intriguing matchup will be Virginia’s defense against Irish quarterback Ian Book. He’s been stellar so far -- passing for eight touchdowns and rushing for two more.

Duke at Virginia Tech -

It’s crazy to think how much the fortunes have reversed for Virginia and Virginia Tech in recent years. While the Hoos are ranked and headed for a huge matchup with Notre Dame, the Hokies face a must-win at home against Duke Friday night. After three uninspiring outings to start the season, Justin Fuente desperately needs a convincing win against the Blue Devils to quell his critics.

Wake Forest at Boston College -

At 4-0, the Demon Deacons are rolling along nicely toward a top-shelf ACC bowl game. There’s talk that Wake could be 9-0 by the time it plays Clemson. But Boston College has been a tough out at home, its loss to Kansas notwithstanding. The Deacs currently look like Virginia’s main competition in the ACC bowl pecking order, so this will be an interesting one to watch.

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

Until then, Go Hoos.