A year after landing one of the coveted College Football Playoff semifinals, the Orange Bowl appears to have another high-profile game in the making.
As of now, the most projected Capital One Orange Bowl scenario is CFP No. 12 Florida State meeting No. 5 Michigan on Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium – with current No. 13 Louisville replacing the Seminoles should the College Football Playoff folks decide to swap their spots when the final rankings are released Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the unranked Miami Hurricanes (8-4), like FSU (9-3) the winners of their past four games, are moving closer to playing a bowl in the state of Florida — a solid possibility now being against West Virginia (9-2) in Orlando’s Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28.
All these scenarios, however, are contingent on CFP No. 2 Clemson (11-1) defeating No. 23 Virginia Tech (9-3) in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game Saturday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
“The Capital One Orange Bowl is excited about our potential teams,” OB vice president of communications Larry Wahl said Wednesday. “Any of the possibilities from our ACC host partners would be a great draw and their possible opponents are among college football’s elite.’’
Michigan (10-2) and FSU have only met twice — the then-No. 1 Seminoles beating the No. 3 Wolverines 51-31 at Ann Arbor in September 1991 and the then-No. 5 Wolverines defeating No. 20 FSU 20-18, also at Ann Arbor, in September 1986.
The other Big Ten possibilities in the Orange Bowl, though not as likely as Michigan, are Wisconsin (10-2) or Penn State (10-2). That would likely happen if Michigan and Ohio State both make the playoffs.
Should Virginia Tech defeat 10-point favorite Clemson, then Virginia Tech would automatically be in the Orange Bowl, Clemson would slide down for a possible at-large spot in a New Year’s Six game, and FSU and Louisville would likely slide down to either the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl and/or Russell.
That, in turn, would likely drop Miami to the Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, though New York’s Pinstripe on Dec. 28 and Charlotte’s Belk Bowl on Dec. 29 are still possibilities.
The interesting dilemma for Russell Athletic Bowl executives, scheduled to meet Wednesday night: Would they want to choose Virginia Tech over Miami knowing that the Hokies are playing the ACC title game in the same stadium three weeks earlier? Also, the Hokies would be coming off a loss, making them less attractive.
Another factor for discussion Wednesday night: The Hokies are scheduled to meet West Virginia, which would likely be their opponent in the Russell, to kick off the 2017 season Sept. 2 at FedExField.
In 2013, however, Miami ended the season with a loss to Louisville in the Russell and then opened the 2014 season against Louisville (another loss).
“If Virginia Tech loses the ACC championship game our committee will still consider them for the Russell Athletic Bowl,” Florida Citrus Sports spokesman Matt Repchak said Wednesday. “It is something our committee is discussing and monitoring closely.
“Let’s see what happens in the championship game.”
Should this be a UM-West Virginia matchup, it would be the first such game between the former Big East rivals since 2003. Miami leads the series 16-3, including victories in the past six meetings.
Miami athletic director Blake James told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that “Orlando and Jacksonville are both options. My belief is we’ll end up in one of those two cities. It would be great for our fans in the state of Florida because it would be a shorter and easier trip to support our team.
“Our guys have put themselves in position to be part of a great bowl no matter who selects us.”