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Why Virginia's blowout loss to Clemson doesn't matter

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Why Virginia's blowout loss to Clemson doesn't matter

When Virginia stepped onto the field Saturday, they were playing for the ACC Championship and a bid to the Orange Bowl. After losing 62-17 to Clemson, the Cavaliers will now most likely have to settle for...a bid to the Orange Bowl.

Virginia gave everything they had on Saturday in the ACC Championship Game, but it was not enough as the Clemson Tigers rolled to earn a fifth straight conference title and its 28th straight win. Trevor Lawrence diced up UVA's secondary to the tune of 302 yards and four touchdowns while Travis Etienne dominated on the ground with 114 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries. Bryce Perkins, meanwhile, did manage 324 total yards and two passing touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions and was largely bottled up by a stifling Clemson defense despite what the numbers may indicate.

The result was not unexpected, nor was the margin of victory (Clemson was favored by 28 heading into the game).  While a blowout loss to a team flirting with a dynasty may seem like a disappointing reward for Virginia's first nine-win regular season since 2007 and winning the Coastal Division for the first time ever, there is a silver lining. Even with the loss, the Cavaliers are still almost certainly locked into an Orange Bowl bid.

As the ACC champ, Clemson is guaranteed the league's Orange Bowl bid unless they are invited to the College Football Playoff which they will be. The Tigers entered the week ranked No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and at 13-0 will make a fifth straight appearance in the playoff.

So what happens to the league's Orange Bowl bid?

When the champion is invited to the playoff, the bowl bid then must be extended to the next highest-ranked team in the conference.

Heading into championship week, Virginia was the only other ranked team in the ACC besides Clemson. Saturdays' loss will likely bump them from the top 25, but it would be shocking if they were to fall so far as to warrant a discussion of whether to invite 8-4 Wake Forest or 8-4 Virginia Tech (who the Cavaliers just beat) over 9-4 UVA.

The short season and high stakes of college football conditions us to think that every game matters. While certainly winning a conference championship would not have been meaningless for UVA's football program, the result will ultimately have little effect on Virginia's final destination this season.

We will know soon enough. The bowl selections will be made on Sunday. The College Football Playoff teams are set to be unveiled at 12:15 p.m. and the New Year's Six bowl game pairings are scheduled to be revealed at 3 p.m.

You can pencil Dec. 30 into your calendars now, Cavaliers fans, because, barring something completely unexpected, UVA will be playing at Hard Rock Stadium in the Orange Bowl that night.

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Richmond Spiders lose leading scorer Blake Francis for 4-6 weeks

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Richmond Spiders lose leading scorer Blake Francis for 4-6 weeks

Richmond Spiders' Blake Francis will miss four to six weeks after fracturing his sternum, the team announced on Thursday.

The injury occurred at the end of the Spiders' contest against Saint Louis on Jan. 11. Francis fell to the floor to save a loose ball when opposing Bilikins dove onto a dogpile to recover the possession themselves. 

If Francis is out for the full six weeks, he would return during the final week of the regular season. It would give the guard a tuneup game before they play in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. 

The loss of Francis for the majority of the Atlantic 10 conference season cannot be overstated. A transfer from Wagner, Francis is the No. 2 guard in the Spiders lineup and putting out 17 points a game. Immediately he had an impact for the Spiders and was named a starter for his first game in Richmond. 

His scoring threat has allowed other stars Jacob Gilyard and Grant Golden to flourish. An aspect of the offense that was missing last year. 

At 13-4, the Spiders were still in NCAA Tournament consideration before the injury. They have one of the better records in the league and tough road victories at Rhode Island and Davidson to their credit. However, there is no wiggle room for the Spiders and they probably cannot afford another loss to anyone not named Dayton or VCU. 

Without Francis, they'll have to supplement the offense elsewhere if they want any chance to return to the big dance in March. 

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Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente takes himself out of running for Baylor job

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Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente takes himself out of running for Baylor job

Virginia Tech fans can breathe a sigh of relief today, as head coach football coach Justin Fuente has decided to stay in Blacksburg, according to Andrea Adelson

Fuente had emerged as a top candidate to replace Matt Rhule at Baylor, but he took himself out of the running and will look to improve on a strong close to the 2019 season for the Hokies. 

Fuente just finished replacing a number of defensive assistants. He hired a new cornerbacks coach Tuesday and promoted Justin Hamilton to defensive coordinator after Bud Foster retired. 

While a bad loss to Virginia at the end of the regular season and a heartbreaking loss in the bowl game to Kentucky could paint the season as a failure, finishing 8-5 after early-season struggles is a victory in and of itself.

Heading into next season, Virginia Tech fans have to feel good about the state of their team. The head coach is back and they seemed to find a rising star at quarterback in Hendon Hooker. 

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