Citrus Bowl's championship bid may not be Wrecked after all


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Upsets among the college football elite have the Florida Citrus Bowl clinging to a hope that its Atlantic Coast Conference contract still can bear the fruit of a national championship game.

The No. 1 Virginia Cavaliers lost on Saturday. But the Citrus Bowl's depression turned to optimism after learning the Cavaliers' conquerors -- fellow ACC member Georgia Tech -- emerged as the country's only unbeaten team eligible to play for a wire-service national championship. The Ramblin' Wreck is 7-0-1 and needs to beat Wake Forest to win the ACC. Houston is the only NCAA Division I team without a loss or a tie (8-0), but the Cougars are on probation and are banned from postseason play.

Citrus Bowl executive director Chuck Rohe yesterday said he still is entertaining hopes that the bowl can lure Notre Dame -- surely to be ranked No. 1 this week -- to play Georgia Tech here on New Year's Day.

"We're going to investigate that possibility," Rohe said. "We're going to check out what Notre Dame's interest is."

Perhaps more likely is that the Citrus Bowl will be matching Tech against Florida State, Penn State, the Big Ten runner-up, the SEC runner-up or the Pac-10 runner-up.

Rohe said the Citrus Bowl also would try to attract sponsors to make its payout competitive with other major bowls -- if that's what it would take to get the Irish. A similar financial scenario awaited the Citrus Bowl before Virginia lost to Tech, 41-38, on a field goal by Scott Sisson with seven seconds left.

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