Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Bowl Breakdown

I realize it's premature to do this, but being much more superstitious about the election, I figured it can't hurt to peek ahead to whether Duke really has a chance at a bowl game, and if so, where. At 4-3, with winnable games left against Clemson, State, and Wake, and an outside chance against UNC, the path to 6-6 isn't unrealistic. But would Duke be selected for a bowl game at 6-6, since "bowl eligible" doesn't mean you get invited? And being a smaller school with not exactly a rich football history doesn't guarantee a large turnout, which perhaps is the most important factor to bowl game hosts.

That skepticism aside, however, I checked the bowl lineup and the ACC is slotted for 8 (yes, 8) bowl games, plus a BCS bowl for the ACC championship winner. So as many as 9 teams in a 12-team league have bowl spots theoretically waiting for them. You look at the standings now and State is the only team at 2-6 with no chance, at least if we give them a 7th loss (and if we don't, we won't be going to a bowl either). Clemson, at 3-4, still plays at BC and FSU, and we could give them a 7th loss (again, we probably need to beat them for a bowl spot).

Which brings us to the last questionable team - Wake Forest. Like us, they also sport a 4-3 record headed into this week's showdown in Winston Salem. If they beat us, at 5-3 they finish with UVa, State, BC, and Vandy, all winnable games. If we beat them, they still probably get 6 or even 7 wins, but perhaps then we also have a shot at 7, and it comes down to which program a bowl wants. Wake has more history the last few years, but hopefully the Duke name and Cutcliffe resurgence carries a little weight.

Every other conference team should reach at least 6 wins, and though UVa closes with a tough schedule, given their unexpected recent resurgence since losing to us, they seem a likely bet. Miami, at 5-3, also has a tough close, but should get at least one win -- our collapse last weekend may be the one to look back on with the most regret, even more than the Northwestern game.

So this all leads me to conclude that even though we could get to 6 wins by beating Clemson and State (certainly no guarantee in either case), we still probably need to beat Wake too -- otherwise we may be the 10th team on the outside looking in. And all of this suggests the road is still markedly uphill -- to expect a 1-11 team to progress to 7-5 is asking a whole lot. But after yesterday, there's hope!

If we can make it, exotic locales such as D.C., Charlotte, or Boise await. Though let's face it, Duke would be happy to play a bowl game at the stadium of Fred's high-school team right now, given the 14-year hiatus. And I'd be fine with that too!


Big Daddy said...

I think the thing that Duke would have going for it is the history of futility. What bowl (that we could realistically qualify for) wouldn't want the opportunity to have a team that has been synonymous with doormat for so many years?
That would make for a great story.

As for traveling poorly, it has been 14 years and one might expect (thinking from a bowl's perspective) the fan base to be hungry and thus to travel well. More so than some of the other teams who at least have been to bowls (and some very good one's) recently.

So I too worry about the "jinx" (and also more the political than the football) but I think if we get to 6-6, we have better than 50-50 odds? The 7th would be a shoo-in.

The Dude said...

my question is - are the dudes going to whatever bowl airborne may be at? even if it is boise?

The Franchise said...

I would go to almost anywhere for a bowl... but I'd have to give Boise some serious thought.

Big Daddy said...

I'm not officially a "dude" so this is really a "thought-experiment"/ hypothetical situation for me, but I couldn't go to Idaho, unless Head Dude and The Dude hired Secret Service like protection for me. I'm scared that if I went, I might not make it out.

Head Dude said...

I've actually been to Boise for a night, and I think you'd be okay...
But I'd agree with Franchise that that's the only place that would give me pause. I'd prefer the Citrus bowl in Orlando, but something tells me Miami and FSU have first dibs there.
So perhaps San Francisco and Boise are most likely -- at least the former would help with recruiting a little out in California.
Undude, when's your baby due? You surely couldn't miss a bowl.

ThadisRad said...

I don't see how I can miss a bowl. A Hawaii bowl would be difficult financially, and a Christmas day bowl would be tough on the marriage, but if it came to divorce, I'm sure Boise is loaded with beautiful, eligible Duke football fans.

Back when we were 3-1 an article in the N&O said that the Car Care Bowl in Charlotte was looking carefully at Duke and the executive director said Duke would be attractive to them. If we're 6-6, I think we play there.

I was in Vegas this weekend and lacked the confidence to bet on Duke. Instead, I bet on the over figuring a) the last meeting was high scoring and b) we have Eron Riley. But alas, my cowardice was punished. The lesson, as always, is Back Duke or Back Off.

Head Dude said...

That's money you deserved to lose!
I guess Charlotte makes sense, even if it's not glamorous. And I'd rather Wake get sent to Boise. Hawaii isn't on the ACC list this year, nor is Christmas, so you're safe.

The Franchise said...

Um, there are no "glamorous" bowls that we are likely to make! I suppose Orlando would be the most fun of the possibilities, but we would have to go on a pretty nice run to end up there.

From a purely logistical standpoint, I'd be cool with Charlotte. I can drive to that one.