posted on Monday, October 3, 2011 at 1:58 PM
Week 5 was a light one for teams in the ACC and Big East, but the biggest games
of the weekend might have an impact far beyond the teams playing in them. Our
Champs Sports Bowl representatives have been on the road up and down the east
coast meeting with fans and officials from our partner schools as we prepare for
the second bowl season under the current conference pairings that give us the
second team from the Big East (first after BCS) and the third team from the ACC
(second after BCS).
Here are the big stories from last weekend and our most recent Team Selection
With their second consecutive win over a ranked conference team, Clemson has
established themselves as the team to beat in the conference. Following a win
over Florida State with a 23-3 thrashing of Coastal Division favorite Virginia
Tech, the Tigers now have the inside track to the ACC Championship.
They'll have to beat Georgia Tech to get there, and the Yellow Jackets (who,
like Clemson, are 5-0 and ranked in the Top 15) also looked dominant on
Saturday. Our reps on the road met with fans from both Techs and everyone
liked the idea of playing in Orlando. Clemson fans have designs on the Discover
Orange Bowl after their fast start, so we understand if they're not as excited
to see us at this point in the year.
The more interesting development after Saturday is that Florida State fans all
over Twitter seem to be convinced that they are bound for the Champs Sports
Bowl. The logic is that Clemson would have to lose two games to let the
Seminoles back into the Atlantic Division race, so FSU may be on the outside
looking in. With no game in Tallahassee last weekend, we didn't have anyone out
there to gauge fan interest, so we don't know yet if this feeling is isolated to
the Internet. This is something our committee plans to keep its eyes on in the
next few weeks.
The biggest game of last weekend came before the weekend, as Pittsburgh stomped
USF on Thursday night. On one hand, it was a great recovery for the Panthers,
who had lost two straight to deceptively-good Iowa and Notre Dame teams and was
all but written out of the Big East race. On the other hand, it could be the
beginning of another year where the conference teams beat up on each other.
As the only remaining ranked team, West Virginia seems way ahead of the pack and
might not get tested until late in the year. USF was the rising upstart
contender before Thursday night, and they could very well recover that
distinction by rattling off a few wins. At the moment, however, the Bulls are
back in a scrum that includes Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Rutgers. If it's
anything like last year, we may not have a good idea of who is available for our
selection until the last few weeks of November.
With a 38-10 win over Purdue, the Irish have won three straight and appear to
have righted the ship after a rough start. Many experts are projecting Notre
Dame to appear in Orlando, but the Irish will need at least four more wins to be
in contention late in the year.