Weekend Rooting Guide
by Huntsville Hokie, 12/1/00

You might be surprised that there is a WRG this weekend, since there are so few games. But of those few games, two are extremely important to the Hokies’ BCS bowl chances. Due to the low number of games, the regular format (Top 25, Hokie Opponents, Hokie Opponents’ Opponents) is out, and I can spend a lot more time talking about each game.

Most of the information for this Rooting Guide comes from ESPN.com's College Football Site, and the rankings are done from the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll. Additional information comes from Jerry Palm's College BCS site, but not Leonard's Losers, because I was too lazy to go out and get one.

Big XII Championship Game – Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium
(#7) Kansas State (10-2) @ (#1) Oklahoma (11-0)

Saturday, 2 December @ 8:00 pm EST
Seven weeks ago, the same matchup at the Wildcats’ stadium resulted in a 31-14 victory for the Sooners. This time around, the result could be much different. Although it’s considered a home game for the Sooners, Arrowhead Stadium will be anything but favorable for the Sooners, or even neutral, as Kansas City is just under 2 hours driving time from Manhattan. Also, Oklahoma has been struggling of late, with close games to Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State.
The way this works for the Hokies is that Oklahoma must win for us to get into the BCS. A Kansas State victory propels them into the Fiesta Bowl as the Big XII Champion, probably against Notre Dame, and Oklahoma would get the other at-large bid to the Sugar, against the Auburn/Florida winner, with Miami and Florida State in the Orange Bowl. An Oklahoma victory leaves open the possibility of a Virginia Tech at-large bid to the Sugar or the Fiesta—depending on the SEC Championship Game—putting Oklahoma into the Orange Bowl against Florida State.
Root: Ooooo-klahoma where the wind goes sweeping down the plain!
ESPN.com Oklahoma/Kansas State Preview

SEC Championship Game – Atlanta’s Georgia Dome
(#17) Auburn (9-2) @ (#8) Florida (9-2)
Saturday, 2 December @ 4:30 pm EST
The previous meetings of these two teams—also seven weeks ago—was a bloodbath. Florida coasted to a 38-7 win in Gainesville, and the game wasn’t even as close as the final score. Florida freshman QB Rex Grossman threw five touchdown passes, all in the first half, and afterwards joked that, "I think the scout team team would have stopped us one out of five times." Now that quote appears on the Auburn bulletin board, as a much improved Tiger squad looks to the rematch of that game at a neutral, possibly even favorable (Auburn ain’t that far from Atlanta) site in the Georgia Dome. This time around looks a little bit better for them, as Florida has not been playing as well as it did that weekend—well, the last opponent for them was Florida State—and the Tigers have been looking better in the last seven weeks, but it’ll still be an uphill battle for Auburn. According to most projections, the winner of this game will go to New Orleans to appear in the Sugar Bowl, and the loser to Orlando for the Citrus. How does this game affect the Hokies? Let’s see. With Florida in the Sugar Bowl, I think that Florida/Miami will be the most attractive matchup available, as that is an intense in-state rivalry (just look at the Canes' board to see how much they hate Florida) that hasn’t been played since 1987. That would leave Notre Dame vs. either VT or Oregon State in the Fiesta, and I think that we have a better than even shot of being the team selected, but just a little bit better than even. With Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, I think the most attractive matchup available becomes Miami/Notre Dame, a rehash of the Catholics vs. Convicts series of the Eighties and early Nineties (yes, they hate Notre Dame almost as much as Florida on the Canes’ board), which would be in the Fiesta. I believe this would leave an Auburn vs. Virginia Tech matchup in the Sugar Bowl. Oregon State has no shot at the Sugar, but Nebraska does, although I think our chances here are much better than 50/50, even though we were there last year. As a result, I think we have a much better chance of getting into the Sugar with an Auburn win than we do of getting into the Fiesta with a Florida win. (The chance still does exist of a Miami/Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl and a Florida/Virginia Tech Sugar Bowl, but that is pretty small.) Therefore, the staff at WRG recommends that you…
Root: Auburn
ESPN.com Auburn/Florida Preview

Those are the two most important games, but there are a few good ones still left on the slate. Let’s take a look at those, shall we?

Army (1-9) @ Navy (0-10) – Baltimore’s PSINet Stadium
Saturday, 2 December @ 12:00 pm EST
Probably the most storied rivalry in all sports, this year seems like a hollow imitation of some of the great games of the past. The old cliché about this game reads, "Throw out the records when Army plays Navy," and I’m sure that both coaches wish they could do so. But despite the records, the military (less the Air Force, but who cares about them anyway?) attaches a lot of importance to this game. Army, for pride, to continue a run of 7 victories in the last 10 games and to increase their overall lead of 48-45-7 in the series; Navy, because a win against Army, even though it would put them at 1-10, would make this a successful season. For Hokies, it’s pretty much a pick-em game. Even though Navy has a slight advantage in the SOS department (3 times appearing on our opponents’ schedules as opposed to 2 for Army), it’s pretty much irrelevant as SOS has pretty much stabilized by this point in the season and wouldn’t change for us very much, if at all. All I know is that I know how I’m going to root in this game, being the son of a 26 year Navy veteran. (Having a Dad that is both Southern and Navy means that I heard "Yes, what?!?" a lot growing up after failing to add "sir" or "ma’am" to an affirmative reply to "Would you like some more ham?" at the dinner table, but I digress…) This game will polarize a lot of the Hokies that have military leanings in their families, but we here at the WRG recommend a rooting interest in Navy, because if Army wins, the author of this column will have a rather surly Christmas.
Root: Navy
ESPN.com Army/Navy preview

MAC Championship Game – Huntington, WV
Marshall (6-5) @ Western Michigan (9-2)
Saturday, 2 December @ 1:00 pm EST
This isn’t one of the most storied rivalries in the nation, it’s not a BCS Conference Championship Game, and there really isn’t a huge SOS impact in this game? So why do we see this game in the WRG? Well, other than the fact that there are only five games this weekend, this game has more importance in the Hokies’ schedule for next year. Although Marshall would seem to have the SOS edge at 1-0, Western Michigan comes to comes to Blacksburg next year to face the Hokies, and it would be a lot better in the opinion polls if the writers could point out that Western Michigan was not only a bowl team last year, but also the MAC Champion. Yeah, I know that these two distinctions are really one and the same, since the MAC only gets one bowl (the Motor City bowl at that, but it’s still a bowl), but the Hokies could use all they can get next year, with an OOC slate of UConn, W. Michigan, Central Florida, and the Wahoos.
Root: Western Michigan
ESPN.com Marshall/Western Michigan preview

Nevada – Las Vegas (6-5) @ Hawaii (3-8)
Saturday, 2 December @ 11:05 pm EST
You’re probably wondering why this game is appearing on the WRG. I added it, because how could I possibly sleep at night if I previewed all the games this weekend but one? Actually, I could sleep very well, thank you, but I thought somebody might care about this game. Two schools of thought here. Root for the gamblers or root for the Warriors that were formerly known as the Rainbow Warriors. Speaking of Rainbow Warriors, I’ll bet that Hawaii is wishing they never dropped the Rainbow part after dropping to 3-8 this year. I’ll bet that Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire is frowning on them.
Root: for Mauna Loa to erupt or something, I don’t really care
ESPN.com UNLV/Hawaii Preview...oops, there isn't one!

Well, that’s it for this weekend. There will only be one more Weekend Rooting Guide this season, which will encompass all of the Bowl games. Tune in for that one, because after that, I’m done with this.



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