The Auburn Tigers learned their bowl destination on Sunday night, and the Tigers will be heading to Atlanta to face the Virginia Tech Hokies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Decemer 31. The Chik-fil-A Bowl berth is not a big surprise, as officials from the bowl were very interested in having the Tigers play as the SEC representative in their game.
A few events occurred on Saturday that cemented Auburn’s trip to the Chik-fil-A Bowl.
Clemson defeated Virginia Tech to win the ACC Championship and a BCS bid. A loss would put the other Tigers on track to Atlanta as the ACC’s No. 2 team, and bowl officials might have looked for a different matchup with Clemson and Auburn slated to meet at the Georgia Dome to start next season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.
In addition, a Georgia upset of LSU would have likely put three SEC teams in the BCS bowls, and moved all the other SEC bowl teams up a notch. That didn’t happen, making it all the more certain that Auburn would be playing the Chick-fil-A Bowl as the SEC’s No. 5 team.
The Tigers draw an unfamiliar opponent in the Virginia Cavaliers, who emerge as the No. 2 ACC team after both Clemson and Virginia Tech made it into the BCS bowls. The Cavaliers finished 8-4 under head coach Mike London and are seen as a program on the rise, as London has invigorated life into a once-struggling program. Like Auburn, the Cavaliers will be looking to bounce back from a bad loss to their rival after falling 38-0 to Virginia Tech to end the regular season.
This game marks an opportunity for Auburn to end the 2011 season with some momentum after some ugly losses down the stretch. A bowl win over Virginia will send the Tigers into the offseason with some confidence as they seek to return to SEC and BCS contention in 2012. The Tigers will be challenged by the Cavaliers but have played a much tougher schedule and will enjoy the home-field advantage with plenty of Auburn fans making the short trip to Atlanta.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl airs on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve from the Georgia Dome. Auburn is 3-1 in the various incarnations of this bowl, most recently defeating Clemson in 2007.