ACC, Big 12 title games will cause big domino effect
Posted: Monday November 27, 2006 12:46PM; Updated: Wednesday November 29, 2006 6:08PM
The ACC (Wake Forest-Georgia Tech) and Big 12 (Oklahoma-Nebraska) championship games may not carry national title implications -- but together they could play a role in determining the matchups for as many as 12 different bowl games. Get ready to follow the dominoes:
It all starts with the Gator Bowl, which gets third choice of ACC teams and can pick between the No. 2 Big East team or a Big 12 team for its other spot. Following last weekend's developments, Texas is suddenly and unexpectedly available to the Gator, which would love to pair the 9-3 Longhorns against 8-4 Clemson. However, an ACC rule invoked this year says a bowl can't pass on an available team that finished more than one game ahead of the others. Georgia Tech went 7-1 in the ACC this year, Clemson 5-3. If the Jackets don't win next week and the Chick-fil-A, as expected, takes 10-2 Virginia Tech, the Gator has to take 9-4 Georgia Tech.
If that happens, the Gator would have to think twice about taking Texas, because neither its fans nor Georgia Tech's are likely to travel en masse to Jacksonville. A 10-2 West Virginia team, if it beats Rutgers next week, would be the more logical choice. In that event, Texas could slip all the way to the Alamo Bowl, because the Cotton wants Nebraska (which would be 9-4 if it loses to Oklahoma) and the Holiday wants Texas A&M (9-3). And that would bump the rest of the Big 12's eligible teams (Missouri, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Kansas) down a rung.
Meanwhile, the Gator's two choices also affect whether the next Big East team, most likely Rutgers, goes to the Sun Bowl or the Texas Bowl, not to mention the fates of the next three ACC bowls (Champs Sports, Music City and Meineke), which could be choosing among Wake Forest (if it loses to Georgia Tech), Boston College, Maryland and Clemson. Florida State and Miami are headed to the Emerald or MPC Computers bowls.
One other interesting bowl domino took place over the weekend in a game almost no one saw. You might not care that Troy (6-5) beat Middle Tennessee State (7-5) -- but you should if you're a fan of Kansas, Washington State, Arizona, Pittsburgh or any other 6-6 team hoping to receive an at-large berth. Thanks to Troy, that's not going to happen.
By virtue of its win over Middle Tennessee, Troy will now capture the Sun Belt title (assuming it beats 0-11 Florida International on Saturday) and a berth in the New Orleans Bowl. NCAA rules state that a bowl can only offer an at-large berth to a 6-6 team if there are no other teams with winning records available. There are only going to be two at-large spots available, the Poinsettia and the Motor City, and one of those is now going to have to go to Middle Tennessee. The other will go to an extra team from the MAC, either Northern Illinois or Western Michigan, both of whom have winning records as well.