The Orange Bowl 2011 holds the only BCS suspense in their hands. However, the Orange Bowl 2011 matchup is widely expected to include Stanford, instead of Connecticut. This seems to be a weird geographical match, since Stanford might be a better fit for the Fiesta at first glance. Yet due to the BCS picking order this year, the decision isn’t up to the Cardinal or Huskies. Therefore, the 2011 Orange Bowl gets to decide whether Stanford or Connecticut will play Virginia Tech on January 3.
For most of the year, it seemed that the Orange would pit the ACC champion against the Big East winner. Virginia Tech lived up to their end, by defeating Florida State for the ACC crown yesterday. As for Connecticut, they won their controversial title with a last-second win over South Florida.
However, the Orange Bowl 2011 has another option than a Virginia Tech-UConn match. Stanford is a much more attractive prospect, if only due to their 11-1 record, and likely Heisman runner up Andrew Luck. But as recently as last Friday, it appeared the Cardinal’s BCS hopes would be dashed.
Despite their record, the presence of TCU, Boise State, and the other potential at-large teams seemed to knock Stanford from contention. It would have been a big controversy if an 11-1 team, whose only loss was to Oregon, was out of the BCS altogether.
Yet because Boise State lost to Nevada, Stanford had the opening they needed. Now that they are No. 4 in the BCS, they have a guaranteed place in a major bowl. Therefore, the Orange Bowl 2011 can pick them as an opponent for Virginia Tech.
This year’s order lets the Orange pick an at-large team before the Fiesta. Therefore, instead of choosing Connecticut, they can go with the Cardinal and relegate the Huskies to the Fiesta instead. With that, they can avoid the controversy and backlash over having a four-loss team involved, and let the Fiesta deal with it.
Letting Stanford in the Orange Bowl 2011 would certainly bring in new blood. The Cardinal haven’t been in the BCS in years, and have never been in this game. Yet many have said that Stanford doesn’t travel well, and now they would have to go cross-country.
Facing Virginia Tech might be a bigger challenge for Stanford, than facing Oklahoma in the Fiesta. The Hokies have won 11 in a row, and have dominated the ACC after their embarrassing start. Both Virginia Tech and Stanford are among the hottest teams in the nation, and will be expected to light up the scoreboard.
This game could have become a symbol for BCS incompetence, if Connecticut was picked for it. But now, the Orange Bowl has a way out, if they pick Stanford to face Virginia Tech on January 3, 2011.
SB Nation- “BCS Bowl Games Projection: Will Orange Tab Stanford Or UConn Against Virginia Tech?”