The Hokies' bowl picture is pretty clear right now. If they win in Saturday's ACC Championship Game, they'll head to Miami for the Orange Bowl for the third time in four years. A loss and they'll go to Atlanta for the Peach Bowl for the second consecutive season.
I say this because of something Peach Bowl selection committee chairman Leeman Bennett wrote in his selection blog last week. He listed Florida State, NC State and Virginia Tech as the three teams the bowl was looking at and said "NC State needs a win this week to be in the hunt for a Dec. 31 trip to Atlanta this year."
The Pack's loss to Maryland, coupled with Florida State's win over Florida makes things pretty simple for Bennett. They're going to take the ACCCG loser. He's also said in previous blogs that Tech's frequent trips to Atlanta wouldn't be a negative factor in the bowl's decision.
With that cut and dry, let's take a look at who the Hokies' could wind up playing in those two bowls.
Right now everyone's assuming we'll win the ACCCG and go to Miami. We all know what happens when you assume, but whatever.
SB Nation: Orange Bowl vs. Stanford
ESPN: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia/Stanford
Sports Illustrated: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia
CBS Sports: Orange Bowl vs. Connecticut
NBC Sports: Orange Bowl vs. Connecticut
Rivals: Orange Bowl vs. Connecticut
Scout: Orange Bowl vs. Connecticut
Pre-Snap Read: Orange Bowl vs. Stanford
To be honest, I'm not sure why everyone keeps picking the ACC Champion to play UConn in the Orange Bowl. I don't think the Huskies are a very attractive selection for any of the BCS bowls and would fall to the Fiesta Bowl, which has the final selection among the BCS bowls. The Orange has the second-to-last.
The key thing to remember right now is that Stanford is currently No. 4 in the BCS rankings, meaning they would get an automatic bid to the BCS. If everything stays the same (which I can't remember ever happening in the final week of the season), the Orange would have the choice of Stanford and UConn. I think they would take Stanford.
Stanford has a tough time filling its own stadium, but I think they're a more attractive team with a larger national reach than UConn. Last year, the Cardinal helped the Sun Bowl have the highest attendance in its history. If it comes down to Stanford and UConn, I think Stanford's getting picked.
However, a lot of things can change. If UConn loses this weekend and West Virginia wins, the Mountaineers would be the Big East champion. If Virginia Tech is the ACC champ, I think the Orange Bowl would want a VT-WVU matchup. What an interesting week on South Beach that would be.
One other team in the mix would be Oklahoma State. For the Cowboys to have a chance, Wisconsin would have to jump Stanford for the No. 4 spot in the BCS. If that happens, Stanford no longer has an automatic BCS bid and the Orange Bowl would be free to pick someone else. The Cowboys at 10-2 represent a team similar to the Kansas team that was selected to the 2008 Orange Bowl. It's a team with a rabid fan base ready to travel to a big bowl game. It's a long-shot, but if the Cowboys are available, there's a chance.
And, of course, everything changes if either Oregon or Auburn loses next week. That if that happens and TCU goes to the BCS Championship Game, there are suddenly more options for the Orange Bowl. If Oregon loses, they would go to the Rose Bowl. If Auburn loses, it becomes available for an at-large spot and Stanford would likely go to the Rose Bowl. Chaos would reign and I like chaos.
Last week, the Peach Bowl was looking at Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina. Florida's loss to Florida State may not eliminate the Gators simply because their a strong fanbase that would buy tickets and fill hotel rooms.
South Carolina's win against Clemson and Florida's loss to FSU all but guarantees the Gamecocks will go to the Outback Bowl if they lose to Auburn. The Tigers would go to the BCSCG, Arkansas would go to the Sugar Bowl and the Citrus Bowl would likely choose LSU over South Carolina.
After that, the Cotton Bowl has the first pick of remaining teams in the West (likely Alabama) and the Hall of Fame Bowl the first pick out of (usually) the East (all but assuredly South Carolina). The Peach Bowl gets to pick from the remaining teams, which would be a toss-up between 9-3 Mississippi State and 7-5 Florida. Tough choice.
If Virginia Tech loses the ACCCG, I think you'll see the Hokies play the Gators. It's the more attractive matchup. If Florida State loses the ACCCG, I think the Peach Bowl would want to avoid a rematch against Florida and would pit the Noles against Mississippi State.
If South Carolina upsets Auburn, it would cause a lot of shifting. The Gamecocks would go to the Sugar Bowl and Auburn would be an attractive option as a BCS at-large team. That means Arkansas would fall to the Citrus, LSU to the Cotton and either Florida or Alabama to the Hall of Fame. That would leave either Florida or Alabama and Mississippi State for the Peach Bowl.
UPDATE: The Palm Beach Post has the Gators going to the Gator Bowl and Mississippi State to the Peach. Still think it could change if FSU win the ACC or South Carolina beats Auburn.
Most Likely Scenarios
Orange Bowl vs. Stanford or West Virginia
Peach Bowl vs. Florida or Mississippi State
Simple, right? Hopefully we can just get a big win and then let the Orange Bowl worry about everything else.