The 2012 Bowl Games are here, and I'm pissed.
First let me say, and hear me well, I am not upset with the Champs Sports Bowl. Given the options, they made a fantastic match up happen. The Florida State Seminoles have the privilege of taking on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. That's quite a rivalry, back in the National Championship days. The bowl is in Orlando, so home field advantage will be the Seminoles, and the Unconquered do not have to travel far. It's a high profile game, prime time on Dec. 29. Given our four losses, I'm appreciative.
But that's beside the point.
When I made my bowl predictions, I saw Florida State in the Chick-fil-a bowl. It was a match made in heaven. The enticing, former national champions had fallen to the Georgia Dome, and the assumed second-best ACC team would face the Auburn Tigers. If Virginia Tech won, the odds gave FSU the opportunity to leap frog Clemson and take the second-most prestigious ACC bowl game.
Then Clemson won.
If the buck stopped there, and we saw V-Tech in the Chick-fil-a bowl, I'm not upset. Ranked No. 5 before the ACC championship game, #12 overall defense in the country, high profile team, last year's ACC champion, the invite would make sense - but the BCS had other plans. The Hokies got an at-large invite to the BCS Sugar Bowl. With the top two ACC teams taken, the Chick-fil-a bowl slot was open yet again! Who would the bowl committee chose?
Let's look at the options:
Team A - Ranked in the BCS top 25 seven weeks of the season, including four weeks at #5, and finished the season still ranked in the AP and Coaches poll. Finished the season ranked #6 in total defense and #73 in total offense. Had four losses on the season by an average of 5 points per loss, three of which were played without a starting quarterback. A quarterback who was a consensus Heisman candidate before the injury. This team finished second in their division at 8-4. Seven victories were against Division-1 schools by an average of 24 points.
Team B - Unranked by any poll this year. Statistically ranked #30 in overall defense and #51 in overall offense. This team had four losses by an average of 18 points, and won on an average of . Finished the season with a shut out at home 38-0, but managed to beat Team A by one point during the season. This team finished second in their division at 8-4. Seven victories were against Division-1 schools by an average of 6 points.
Chick-fil-a chose Team B, the Virginia Cavaliers. In their defense, the Cavs faced three ranked teams during the season and defeated two. One of those ranked teams was a one-point victory over Florida State, or Team A. The other victory was at Georgia Tech, a shocking upset that gave Virginia the edge of second in the Atlantic division (both teams finished 8-4). Virginia Tech was the third, who contributed the aforementioned 38-0 shutout.
Is Virginia a better team than Georgia Tech or Florida State? No, certainly not. But they had wins over each, and it seems that was enough for an invitation., ACC Coach of the Year, has done a fantastic job bringing Virginia out of obscurity this season, so the reward is not unmerited.
Georgia Tech recieved some what of a shaft, getting placed in the Hyundai Sun Bowl against the 7-5 Utah Utes (who finished 4-5 in the Pac-12), so things could be worse. FSU hasn't played in the Champs Sports Bowl since 2008, when the Noles heartily took down Wisconson. The Notre Dame match up is certainly an exciting draw for fans nonetheless, and I am appreciative as a Seminole. The teams have not faced each other since 2003, with the Unconquered winning 37-0 in South Bend, and as an avid opponent to Notre Dame Hype, I'd love to see the Seminoles embarrass the Irish yet again.
Here's Tomahawk Nation's spin on the FSU bowl placement:
Both the 'Noles and Irish had disappointing seasons this year, for a variety of reasons (injuries, turnovers, poor play, coaching etc.). But both teams also played well above their respective 8-4 records. The Seminoles lost their four games by an average of five points, while winning their 7 against division-1 competition by an average of 24. Unlike FSU, Notre Dame was soundly beaten twice (by 14 to USC and by 14 to Stanford), but did lose two games by a combined seven points.
It's an even match up - in notoriety, record and performance - but things could have been better.
I'm happy for Virginia, I'm thrilled to see the ACC improving, but that Chick-fil-a bowl was almost ours. And I would have savored the opportunity to shove a loss in the SEC's face on New Years Eve.
Don't let us down, Virginia. Don't let us down.