The ACC has official tie-ins with six bowls, the BCS and five others The five bowls are the Gator, Peach, Champs Sports, Continental Tire and MPC Computers Bowls. They select in that order. Other than the BCS, there is no real rule on what team the other bowls have to select. The Gator and Peach are required to select a team one game within the highest ranking available team, but that doesn’t really limit their options too much. No, the five “at-large” bids go only partly based on season records. Just as important is national recognition (read: TV revenue) and number of fans projected to buy tickets and travel. Remember bowls aren’t so much rewards for the teams as they are marketing vehicles for the host cities.
There are really just two games that matter to ACC bowl picks, Virginia at Virginia Tech this weekend and the Hokies at Miami next weekend. While those two games can produce four different outcomes, only three possible ones matter. If Miami beats Tech, they’ll go to the BCS and Tech will be picked ahead of Virginia, regardless of who wins that Cav-Hokie battle. Why? Because Tech’s fans are known to be very loyal and to travel. It’s not like they care about basketball season.
The other team of significance is Florida State who has already completed their season. They can’t get to the BCS, but you can be sure that they’ll get picked high among the next three teams.
I’ll run down the six bowls and list the possible ACC team in each, with the most likely team listed first.
BCS – Miami, Virginia Tech, Virginia
Beat the Hokies and Miami is in. Otherwise, the winner of UVA-VA Tech likely gets the nod, although it will depend on the BCS standings. It’s possible that UVA could beat Tech but still lose out if the computers and humans give the Hokies tons of credit for beating Miami.
Gator Bowl – FSU, Virginia Tech
Honestly, it’s hard to imagine any team other than FSU playing here, but it’s possible that the folks in Jacksonville like the concept of a large group of fans traveling from out-of-state. A lot of Nole fans would make day trips, depriving Jacksonville of hotel and meal money that the Hokies would provide.
Peach Bowl – Virginia Tech, FSU, Miami
If Miami gets the BCS bid, the Peach will take whichever team between VT and FSU that the Gator doesn’t pick. If the Hokies beat Miami, then the Hurricanes are headed to Atlanta.
Champs Sports Bowl – Virginia, Miami
The only way this spot doesn’t fall to the Cavs is if they snag the BCS bid. Virginia is used to falling to the last possible bowl. They have a rep for not traveling well, even if the recent numbers don’t support that theory. One reason their numbers may not always be as good is that their fans are routinely disappointed when teams they beat and finished ahead of get picked for the better bowls. It seems to happen every year.
Continental Tire Bowl – UNC
This one’s already a done deal.
MPC Computers Bowl – Georgia Tech
It’s hard to imagine how this could work out any other way. And hey, the Yellow Jackets have played on the blue field last year, so they should be comfortable.