I have been trying to puzzle this for a little while now after reading Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel's predictions for college bowl games. As a Boston College beat reporter for WEEI.com, I am naturally curious as to where the team I cover will end up. So, I dug into my ACC notes and tried to figure it out.
Mandel has the Eagles playing in the Meineke Car Car Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 26th. At first I liked the pick, though for selfish reasons only. If I go to Charlottesville, Virginia to see my family for Christmas then Charlotte is an acceptable destination that I could drive to the next day. Then I looked up the order of selection for the ACC bowl games and it did not seem to make sense. Here is the order of the bowl selections:
ACC Championship winner:
FedEx Orange Bowl
1: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta
2: Konica - Minolta Gator Bowl, Jacksonville
3: Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando
Four through six are decided "by preference" of the bowl invitations. Though, in order of financial payouts, it goes. . . .
4: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Nashville
5: Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte
6: Emerald City Bowl, San Francisco
7: EagleBank Bowl, Washington, D.C.
8: GMAC Bowl, Mobile, Ala.
First, if you are an ACC fan, then forget about the EagleBank and GMAC. There is no way that the conference is going to have eight bowl eligible teams. Now, let's look at where Mandel thinks the six other ACC teams will fall.
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech
-This is probably right, unless Boston College or Clemson finds a way to knock them off in the championship game, which I do not see happening.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Clemson
-This is assuming that the Tigers can win out and take the ACC Atlantic title before losing to the Yellow Jackets. The Chick-fil-A, Gator and Champ Sports bowls can pass on the ACC runner-up this year if they choose but it cannot fall further than the Music City bowl.
Gator Bowl: Miami
-Big school, big program having a good year. Cannot see why the Gator Bowl would not like having a team from Florida.
Champ Sports Bowl: Virginia Tech
-Pending further unexpected stumbles, the Hokies will probably finish behind Miami and Georgia Tech and be a strong third in the conference. If they lose one more it could be Meineke.
Music City Bowl: North Carolina
-Alright, this is where I get confused. The Tar Heels (6-3, 2-3 ACC) are not going to have as good a conference record as Boston College (6-3, 3-2 ACC) unless North Carolina can win out, which would include a victory at Alumni Stadium on 11/21. The Tar Heels have a great defense but no offense so I just do not see them winning out the conference. Though, if the Eagles can get past the Heels, they just have poor Virginia and Maryland teams to squeeze by on the road. It is possible.
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Boston College
- This is where the idea of "preference" strikes me as odd. Mandel seems to think that the Music City Bowl would prefer North Carolina, which is probably true given the notion that the Tar Heels are located much closer to Nashville than Boston College. Eagles fans also do not travel all that well (they do not even sell out Alumni) but wouldn't it make far greater sense for North Carolina to play close to home in the Meineke?
Emerald City: Wake Forest
Assuming it wins enough games to be bowl eligible, why not? Florida State (which just lost Chris Ponder for the rest of the year) would fall into this category as well. Possible that neither will do it. Or both.
*Note: Duke, by some strange miracle, might become bowl eligible this year and may sneak into EagleBank or GMAC.
These predictions are based on the assumption that Georgia Tech will beat Clemson in the ACC championship game. As it stands right now, there is a good chance of that. Boston College would need to win out and Clemson would have to lose one more conference game for the Eagles to have a shot and hence, the Chick-fil-A bowl (in the Georgia Dome which would make for an interesting Boston College/Matt Ryan storyline). Is that going to happen? Well, probably not, but the denizens of Chestnut Hill can hope.
It all gets kind of subjective at this point, trying to predict what bowl invitations will go where. Strange things happen in NCAA selection processes, that is the way of it. Though, outside of an trip to Tampa for the championship, Boston College will play in either the Champ Sports, Music City or Meineke bowls. In my mind I would guess the Music City based on record and prestige of the program, but I could be wrong. Then again, it is kind of trivial to argue over one spot in the bowl selection process. Oh well.
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