With less than a week before division champions compete for their conference titles Saturday, bowl scenarios for the University of Miami still focus on one of two likely games:
• The Chick-fil-A Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 in Atlanta against, perhaps, the Texas A&M Aggies (8-4) and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
• The Russell Athletic Bowl at 6:45 p.m. Dec. 28 in Orlando against, perhaps, the Louisville Cardinals (10-1) and Miami hometown quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
The first bowl destination for UM (9-3, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) in three years will depend on whether the ACC Championship game goes pretty much the way everyone except the Blue Devils expects it to go — with BCS No. 1 and 29-point favorite Florida State (12-0, 8-0) defeating No. 20 Duke (10-2, 6-2).
If FSU does get the expected victory and advances to the BCS National Championship on Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., the Orange Bowl would likely select Clemson (10-2, 7-1) as the team to replace FSU — that is, if Clemson is eligible.
The Orange Bowl, which has an automatic tie-in with the ACC champion, could select any replacement for FSU if the Seminoles go to the BCS title game, as long as the replacement is ranked among the top 14 teams in the final BCS standings that come out Sunday.
Clemson is now BCS No.13.
Though the Orange Bowl would not be obligated to take Clemson, it likely would because of a longstanding relationship with the ACC that will contractually continue for the next 12 years.
An Alabama-Clemson game would be one possible scenario for the Jan. 3 Orange Bowl, though everything is contingent on this weekend.
If FSU defeats Duke and the OB is unable to select Clemson as one of its teams, or if it should choose not to do so, then the Tigers could go to the Chick-fil-A Bowl — unless the Chick-fil-A went with Duke.
The ACC’s “one win rule” ensures that if a bowl does not select the team available with the best conference record, then it must choose a team that is within one conference win of the team with the best league record.
If Duke were to upset FSU, then Duke would go to the Orange Bowl and FSU might be chosen as a BCS at-large, leaving Clemson for the Chick-fil-A and likely Miami for the Russell (which picks its ACC team after the Chick-fil-A).
Bottom line: if FSU defeats Duke on Saturday and Clemson goes to the Orange, the Chick-fil-A would likely choose between Duke and Miami, with UM being the expected pick should Duke lose big.
“Duke certainly deserves strong consideration because they’re a great story and they’ve done a hell of a job this year,” said Chick-fil-A selection committee member Bill Flynn. “And Miami just blows everybody out in terms of TV coverage. ESPN loves them.
“What we look for is the most competitive game we can get. We want people watching and we want people excited about it.”
The ACC team’s opponent in the Chick-fil-A would be the No. 3, 4 or 5 Southeastern Conference selection. The Capital One, Cotton and Outback bowls pick before the Chick-fil-A. Until Saturday’s games, the SEC teams still being considered by the Chick-fil-A are Missouri, South Carolina, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M.
Some of those teams will likely be picked by other bowls before the Chick-fil-A has its shot.
Linebacker Denzel Perryman and punter Pat O'Donnell made the All-ACC Football Team on Monday, as voted by members of the ACC Sports Media Association.
Second-team All-ACC Hurricanes are running back Duke Johnson, receiver Allen Hurns and guard Brandon Linder, with quarterback Stephen Morris making the third team.
Honorable mention: tackle Seantrel Henderson, guard Jon Feliciano, cornerback Tracy Howard, safety Deon Bush and specialist Stacy Coley.