Chick-Fil-a Bowl: Virginia Cavaliers Set to Face Auburn Tigers

Ben GibsonSenior Analyst IDecember 4, 2011

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 26:  Perry Jones #33 of the Virginia Cavaliers runs with the ball past Jack Tyler #58 of the Virginia Tech Hokies at Scott Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia.   (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Heading into last weekend, Virginia knew it was going to play an SEC team in a bowl.

They just never thought it would go like this.

Thanks to an improbable scenario, Cavalier fans are no longer looking for seats in Nashville, Tennessee to take on a Mississippi State team that had gone 2-6 in the SEC. 

Instead of being relegated to the back seat in the coach section, Virginia fans are heading to Atlanta to take on the defending national champion Auburn Tigers in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

This news only came about after Clemson's stunning victory over Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game this past Saturday.

That shocker, combined with Houston's loss and Oklahoma's humiliation, led to confusion. 

The loss knocked the Hokies out of their No. 5 spot in the BCS standings, but they remained high enough to nab the last at-large BCS bid.

Virginia Tech and Virginia may be the biggest winners of all the bowl participants, and they have the Clemson Tigers to thank.

Certainly, winning their first ACC championship since 1991 is a big accomplishment for Clemson, but their reward of playing West Virginia in the Orange Bowl will not really build their reputation.

Virginia Tech gets a more attractive matchup in New Orleans against the Michigan Wolverines, while the Cavaliers get the best possible game they could have anticipated.

Granted, a team that won only seven games combined in 2009 and 2010 should not be really greedy when it comes to bowls.

On the other hand, given Virginia's poor performance against Virginia Tech, being dropped to the sixth-best ACC bowl would not have lifted sagging spirits.


Auburn may not be the team they were last year, but they are still dangerous and present a great challenge for a resilient Virginia team looking to finish their dream season on a bright note.

Virginia has not won a bowl since 2005 and not played in Atlanta since the 1998 Peach Bowl, when the Cavaliers fell short against the Georgia Bulldogs.

In fact, 1998 is the last time these two teams did battle when old War Eagle fell to the Cavaliers 19-0 at home to open the season.

This would be the third appearance in the bowl for the Cavaliers and the Auburn's first appearance in the bowl since 2007.

Auburn has had trouble replacing the great Cam Newton at quarterback, but they have one of the better running teams in the country.

The Tigers averaged over 174 yards per game on the ground, and that was important because their defense was near the bottom in most statistical categories in the SEC.

When you give up 38 points to Utah State, there has to be concern.

Auburn has a simple goal—stop Virginia's run.

If the Cavaliers can run the ball effectively, this will turn out to be a great bowl matchup.