Virginia Cavaliers

Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

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Bowl season: Penn State, UVA get New Year's Six, the Hokies bowl shuffle and Navy's tough draw

The regular season is over, the conference championships decided and the playoff bracket is set. Yes, it's bowl season. Bowl bids were handed out on Sunday and Penn State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Navy all found out their postseason fates.

Here's where each team is headed this bowl season:

Penn State vs. Memphis, Cotton Bowl Classic on Saturday, Dec. 28

Ohio State is headed to the College Football Playoff and the Big Ten's Rose Bowl bid is going to Wisconsin. Penn State, however, managed to squeak into the New Year's Six as the No. 10 team in the nation. They will take on Group of 5 representative Memphis who won the AAC.

Virginia vs. Florida, Orange Bowl on Monday, Dec. 30

The Cavaliers are headed to the Orange Bowl for the first time in school history. More on this game here.

Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky, Belk Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

The Belk Bowl always seemed like the likely destination for Virginia Tech, but their opponent was a bit of a mystery. If you were following along on Twitter before things were made official, the Hokies were supposed to play Mississippi State, then it was Tennessee, then Kentucky, then Tennesse again and then back to Kentucky.

Now it's official and we know for sure it will be Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky.

The issue was reportedly Tennessee changing its bowl preference at the last minute.


Navy vs. Kansas State, Liberty Bowl on Tuesday, Dec. 31

Kansas State is the only team in the nation with a win over a College Football Playoff team. They defeated Oklahoma 48-41 in October.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo had the quote of the day about his team's matchup.

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Virginia is Orange Bowl bound for the first time ever

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Virginia is Orange Bowl bound for the first time ever

The Virginia Cavaliers are headed to the Orange Bowl where they will play the Florida Gators on Dec. 30 it was announced Sunday. The Cavaliers were smoked by Clemson to the tune of 62-17 in Saturday's ACC Championship Game thus cementing the Tigers' spot in the College Football Playoff. With the conference champs in the playoff, the ACC's Orange Bowl bid then fell to the Cavaliers as the next highest-ranked ACC team.

https://twitter.com/CFBPlayoff/status/1203768009736757250

This will be Virginia's first-ever trip to the Orange Bowl.

The Hoos' opponent will be 10-2 Florida. The Gators finished the season ranked No. 9 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after a season in which their only two losses came go No. 1 LSU in Death Valley and No. 5 Georgia in a neutral site game in Jacksonville.

This is the third-straight bowl season for Bronco Mendenhall in his four seasons at UVA. Last season the Cavaliers won a decisive 28-0 victory over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl. A nine-win regular season was Virginia's first since 2007 and clinched the team's first-ever Coastal Division championship. The reward has thus far been a game against undefeated Clemson and another top-ten team in Florida. Virginia, however, will have much more time to prepare for the Gators than they did against the Tigers. They also will not be coming off an emotional rivalry win like they were in ACC Championship Game, playing just one week after their first win over rival Virginia Tech since 2003. It also gives time for star quarterback Bryce Perkins to heal who appeared to be ailing and grabbing his chest towards the end of the loss to Clemson.

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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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