A very tortured path.
If the Hokies did so -- the Cavaliers appear a bigger hurdle than the Tigers -- their computer rankings would be enhanced by U.Va.'s road upset of Florida State, diminished by Clemson’s loss at North Carolina State. That’s why Tech faithful should root for Clemson to beat South Carolina on Saturday.
But we digress.
While victories over Virginia and Clemson would guarantee the Hokies a return Orange Bowl engagement, they’d need several teams above them in the BCS standings to stumble. Here’s one unlikely route:
* Top-ranked LSU defeats No. 3 Arkansas on Friday, excusing the Razorbacks from consideration. The Tigers are at home and a two-touchdown favorite.
* Second-ranked Alabama (10-1) loses Saturday’s Iron Bowl at Auburn (7-4). The Crimson Tide is favored by nearly three touchdowns, and after squandering a 24-0 lead to Cam Newton and the Tigers last season, it’s hard to imagine Nick Saban’s bunch stumbling here.
* Oklahoma defeats No. 4 Oklahoma State on Dec. 3, a game that will be played simultaneous to the ACC title contest. The Cowboys (10-1) have more than two weeks to prepare for the Sooners after losing in double-OT Friday at Iowa State. Plus, they’ll be at home.
If all of the above transpired – any takers on that parlay? – then Virginia Tech might face LSU for the national championship. "Might" because the BCS computers are more fickle than my 9-week-old.
Were Arkansas to beat LSU, and Alabama to hold serve against Auburn, there’s no telling what would transpire. The Razorbacks, Tigers and Tide would share the SEC West title, and the BCS standings would determine which advanced to the conference’s championship game against Georgia.
In case you’re interested, here is the SEC’s tie-breaker, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley:
“The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl Championship Series Standings following the last weekend of regular-season games shall be the divisional representative in the SEC championship game, unless the second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the SEC championship game.”
Makes you hair hurt, doesn’t it?
Bottom line: While fun to parse permutations, forecasting one week, let alone two, is folly. Just consider last week, when four of the BCS’ top 10 lost, two to unranked opponents.
So embrace your family and ravage the buffet on Thanksgiving. We’ll know more in a week.
Better yet, perhaps one day we'll settle such issues on the field in a playoff.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP