It’s Tuesday once again. But it isn’t just any Tuesday, of course. It’s the second Tuesday in November, otherwise otherwise known as Veterans’ Day here in the Land of the Free. Considering this blog’s audience, it’s a pretty meaningful day; at least a little more than to the average American, anyway. We give thanks to those who have served. Those of us who have served remember the brothers and sisters that joined us, especially the ones who have passed away. People like J.P. Blecksmith, who gave his life four years ago today at Fallujah. While we remember all veterans today, take a moment to also remember the anniversary of J.P.’s sacrifice.
In last week’s poll, I asked who you’d want to face in the EagleBank Bowl. Not surprisingly, Maryland was the winner, with 21% of the votes. Playing someone new doesn’t outweigh the chance for you Anne Arundel County residents to stir up a little rivalry with your neighbors, it seems. My personal preference, Virginia, came in second. I like Virginia for a few reasons. They were a regular on Navy schedules from the late 60s into the 90s; George Welsh didn’t feel right beating up on the alma mater every year, so he stopped playing the Mids. Playing the Cavaliers again would be a lot of fun for me. It would also be good for the EagleBank Bowl folks, who would love to see a local team bring a crowd to match Navy’s. Virginia Tech would also fit the bill there, but chances are that both Virginia Tech and the Terps will be picked up by other bowl games long before the EagleBank Bowl gets the ninth pick.
The picture is a little clearer after this weekend’s games. Eight ACC teams are now bowl eligible: Florida State, Wake Forest, Maryland, Boston College, UNC, Miami, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. Virginia is one win away, at 5-5. Clemson, at 4-5, needs to win out to become bowl-eligible because they played two I-AA teams. They play each other next week, so only one of them will qualify. Duke is 4-5 and needs to win two out of their last three to be eligible.
The important thing to look at is their conference records. The “Boston College Rule” is an ACC rule that means that a bowl game can’t pick a team that’s more than a game behind the next highest team in the conference standings. So if UNC is 5-3 and Virginia is 4-4, a bowl game could choose UVa over UNC. If Virginia is 3-5, that bowl game would have to take UNC. Right now, Florida State and Wake Forest are both 4-2. Maryland, Miami, Virginia Tech, and UNC are 3-2. Georgia Tech is 4-3, Virginia is 3-3, Boston College is 2-3, Clemson is 2-4, and Duke is 1-4. Given all that, it’s hard to see how we won’t end up with Boston College or Duke. If Clemson manages to win out (they won’t), they will be with several other teams that will likely be at 4-4. They’ll get picked before they drop to #9. A bowl-eligible Virginia can’t finish any worse than 4-4 in the conference, either. There are a lot of games to be played, but it looks like the teams that don’t travel very well– Boston College and Duke– aren’t going to win enough games to force any bowl games higher up the ladder to pick them. So here’s what we gotta do:
- Root against Duke. Hard. They have to win 2 out of 3 against Clemson, UNC, and Virginia Tech, so hopefully this isn’t too much to ask.
- Root for Boston College. This is a tougher one. BC plays Florida State, Wake Forest, and Maryland, which is no easy stretch. If they win no more than 1 of those games, it’s pretty much a lock that they’ll end up in Washington if 9 ACC teams qualify.
- Root for Wake Forest to beat NC State this weekend. With 5 wins, there’s no way they can drop to #9.
After that, it’s a mess. If Clemson, Duke, and Virginia all fail to qualify– a real possibility– then we’ll start looking to the MAC.
But that’s enough of last week’s poll question. For this week’s question, we turn to basketball. It’s a huge weekend in Navy sports. By the time Monday rolls around, the basketball team will already have two games under their belts. The Mids play at Towson on Friday, then come home to play Howard on Sunday afternoon. You might think that expectations would be pretty high for Navy this year, considering that they broke through for a winning record and a second-place finish in the Patriot League last season. According to the preseason poll of coaches and SIDs, however, that’s not the case. Navy was picked to finish a rather absurd sixth in the conference.
Clearly, the loss of Patriot League POY Greg Sprink weighed heavily on the minds of the voters; enough that they didn’t think that Navy would be much of a team without him. I completely disagree. No one player will do everything that Sprink did, but the rest of the starting 5, plus the addition of Idaho transfer O.J. Avworo at point guard, should probably be even harder to defend. Don’t get me wrong; I have some serious questions about the program right now. Specifically, WHY IS EVERYONE LEAVING??? But for this year, I think Navy will be even better and should contend for the Patriot League title again.
Navy’s not the only team in the Patriot League with a lot of returning talent, though. American is the preseason favorite for a good reason. Who do you think will win the conference?