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2010 Bowl Projections: Virginia Tech Will Face Either Stanford or Connecticut in Orange Bowl

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The Virginia Tech Hokies will make their third trip to the Orange Bowl in four years by virtue of their 44-33 win over Florida State in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday. They'll learn their opponent during Sunday's bowl selection  at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN.

They will likely face either Stanford or Big East champion Connecticut.

The Orange Bowl picks second-to-last among the BCS bowls to fill their open slot opposite the Hokies. The Rose Bowl is obligated to take TCU, which gains an automatic berth by being ranked in the Top 12 in the BCS. Stanford will also receive an automatic bid if it remains in the No. 4 spot in the BCS rankings. Last week, the Cardinal were No. 4 in the BCS, .228 over No. 5 Wisconsin.

The Sugar Bowl will get to make two at-large selections because it lost its automatic bid (Auburn) to the BCSCG and picks before the Orange Bowl. All indications are the Sugar Bowl will select Arkansas from the SEC and Ohio State from the Big Ten to play in that game.

That would leave the Orange Bowl the choice between two automatic berths (Stanford and UConn) for its second slot with the other team playing in the Fiesta Bowl.

The arguments for the Huskies are that they are closer to Miami. The arguments for the Cardinal are that they're a better team and would bring in a more national audience. Also, the Orange Bowl didn't have much luck filling its stadium when the Hokies faced Big East champion Cincinnati two years ago.

I believe the Orange Bowl will select Stanford to play the Hokies. While the Cardinal sometimes struggle to fill their own stadium, they have a more national audience than the Huskies. Stanford helped give the Sun Bowl the first sellout in its history last year against Oklahoma. The Cardinal are a much more enticing matchup when trying to sell tickets to locals than 8-4 UConn.

The Cardinal are obviously a lot farther from Miami than the Huskies, but I think we'll wind up playing them in the Orange Bowl when the matchups are announced Sunday. However, it will be a tough decision for the Orange Bowl's selection committee.

Of course, if Stanford falls to No. 5 in the BCS standings or the Sugar Bowl DOESN'T take Arkansas and Ohio State crazy things could happen.

For more on Connecticut, check The UConn Blog. For more on Stanford, visit Rule of Tree. SB Nation is tracking all the bowls and our own Andy Hutchins think the Orange will pick UConn.

UPDATE. Is BCS pushing UConn on Orange Bowl?: Mark Giannotto from the Washington Post said on Twitter he has heard the BCS may be pushing the Orange Bowl to select UConn. This would keep the Huskies and Cardinal from both having to travel cross country. While I still think we will wind up playing Stanford, this does make things interesting. If it's true, I wouldn't be surprised if we wind up playing UConn in the Orange Bowl because the BCS usually gets what it wants. Remember, in 2007 the Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl tried to orchestrate a trade that would have had the Hokies playing Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl instead of Kansas. The reasoning was the Fiesta didn't want Oklahoma fans to have to go to the same bowl in consecutive years. However, the BCS put the kibosh on it.

OPP - Other People's Projections

SB Nation: VT vs. Connecticut
ESPN: VT vs. Stanford
Sports Illustrated: VT vs. Stanford
CBS Sports: VT vs. Stanford
NBC Sports: VT vs. Connecticut
Rivals: VT vs. Stanford
Scout: VT vs. Connecticut
Pre-Snap Read: VT vs. Stanford