Among those listening to Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer’s post-mortem Saturday night was Gary Stokan, president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The Atlanta-based game has the first pick of ACC teams after the Bowl Championship Series and will select the Hokies – presuming they are available.
There is a slim chance they won’t be.
The five BCS games will be filled by the six automatic qualifying conference champions – LSU, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Oregon and West Virginia – plus Stanford and Alabama. That’s eight teams, leaving two spots open.
Michigan is a lock to take one, presuming the No. 16 Wolverines jump two spots in the BCS standings Sunday. A team must be in the top 14 for at-large consideration.
With No. 5 Virginia Tech, No. 6 Houston, 10 Oklahoma, No. 13 Michigan State and No. 14 Georgia losing Saturday, that figures to happen.
But what of the last spot? As the champion of a non-automatic qualifying conference, the Mountain West, TCU is assured that bid if it’s among the top 16 and ahead of an AQ champion.
The No. 18 Horned Frogs will be ahead of Big East winner West Virginia, but will they jump two spots in the standings. Computer guru Jerry Palm tweeted late Saturday night that he thinks not.
If he’s right, and if Virginia Tech (11-2) remains among the top 14, it is eligible. The Hokies’ primary competition would be Kansas State (10-2), a 30-23 winner over Iowa State on Saturday.
If the Fiesta Bowl loses Big 12 champion Oklahoma State to the national title game, the Fiesta might take the Big 12’s Kansas State out of loyalty to its affiliated conference. But if the title contest is LSU-Alabama, then might the Sugar Bowl consider Tech?
Stokan said he thought it was possible. Still, I’m thinking improbable because of Saturday’s lopsided loss.
That’s a terribly long-winded way of explaining that the Hokies are likely headed for a Chick-fil-A matchup with last season’s national champion, Auburn (7-5).
Tech’s destination will affect the ACC’s other bowl teams, including Virginia. The Hokies to Atlanta would almost certainly send the Cavaliers to the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl in Nashville, where Mississippi State (6-6) or Vanderbilt (6-6) are the most likely opponents.
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