By Will Vandervort
Where will 13th-ranked Clemson go should the Orange Bowl pass over the Tigers or they fall out of the top 14 in Sunday’s Bowl Championship Series rankings?
Well, let’s look at what we do know. Right now we know Clemson seems likely to go to the Orange Bowl should it remain in the top 14 of the BCS rankings, given the bowl’s long-term relationship with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Also, it is very unlikely the Tigers can fall out of the top 14 of the BCS standings unless a lot of things take place this weekend.
I personally feel that the Tigers have a better than 60 percent chance of going to the Orange Bowl, though the bowl’s committee is concerned about ticket sales from the Clemson contingent. They believe, due to the Tigers’ losses to Florida State and South Carolina, Clemson fans are not as excited about their team as they once were and that will cause ticket sales to sag.
The bowl game is also worried who to choose for Clemson’s opponent. Alabama seems to be the logical choice, but the Crimson Tide played in Miami last year in the BCS title game and bowl officials are concerned that Bama fans would feel the same as Clemson fans about coming back to Miami for a second straight year and there really being nothing to play for but pride. Especially after their team fell out of the national championship race thanks to that heartbreaking loss to Auburn last week.
So let’s say the Orange Bowl does pass on the Tigers and Clemson remained ranked in the top 14 of the BCS standings, can the Tigers go to another BCS game? Yes they can, but it is not likely. The Tigers would have to have a couple of things happen first – Northern Illinois lose for starters. That can open up a potential spot in the Sugar Bowl for the Tigers and it is really the only legitimate scenario where they can play in another BCS game.
I have to say there is a slight chance the Tigers good be selected by the Rose Bowl, but honestly, a lot of things have to occur for that to happen and I just don’t see that playing out – though personally I would love to cover a Rose Bowl. #bucketlist
If the Tigers are not selected or don’t qualify for a BCS game than the next designation could be the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. Though the Tigers played in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic and the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year, the bowl game says Clemson is a “strong option if not in Orange.”
The Tigers only contender in this bowl game is Duke. The Blue Devils, due to their 6-2 record in the ACC, can be selected over Clemson due to the agreement with the ACC that they can select within one win of the best available team’s conference record. Clemson as you know was 7-1 in the ACC this season.
Given a Clemson-Duke choice, the Chick-fil-A Bowl most likely will select Duke, given it is the feel good story of the year, plus the Tigers played in Atlanta twice last season as I mentioned above.
If that scenario plays out, the ACC’s two-win rule would mandate Clemson go to Orlando and play in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28 where it will more than likely play Louisville.
If the Tigers are selected to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, then their opponent more than likely will be Texas A&M. The bowl game does not want a repeat from earlier in the season like Clemson-Georgia or Clemson-South Carolina, plus they are not in favor of a Clemson-LSU rematch as well. Most bowl projections have Texas A&M falling into the SEC’s No. 5 spot.