“I don’t talk about that. I talk about the task at hand, the game at hand, the most important game being the game we’re about to play. Because without taking care of the business at hand, there are no other opportunities down the road.”
— Virginia Coach Mike London on how often he mentions the goal of becoming bowl eligible to his players
London may not want to talk about it — heck, he may not need to talk about it — with his players, but their collective goal faces a critical juncture Saturday against North Carolina State. The Cavaliers, as you know, are 4-2, 1-1 ACC, which means they are two wins away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.
N.C. State (3-3, 0-2) is, well, beatable. Very beatable. Especially for a team fresh off the high of knocking off then-No. 12 Georgia Tech. Should Virginia prevail Saturday, the Cavaliers would need to win just once in their remaining five games to earn a bowl bid, and that Nov. 12 home date against Duke sure does stand out as a contest they should be able to claim.
However, should Virginia fall to the Wolfpack, the path to six wins becomes muddled. Next up is a Thursday night trip to Miami. The Hurricanes have had more than a few distractions with which to deal this season, but they’re still plenty talented.
Then the Cavaliers have to play at Maryland. Again, not impossible by any means to think Virginia can’t scrape out a win in College Park. But that game certainly is not a gimme, either.
Then comes Duke. Then comes a trip to Tallahassee to face Florida State. Then Virginia closes out the season at home against Virginia Tech.
So yeah, Saturday’s game means a lot for the Cavaliers. A win would make the task of becoming bowl eligible much more feasible. A loss likely would be viewed as a letdown following the win over Georgia Tech and may do some damage to the team’s collective psyche.
Keep in mind that N.C. State’s bowl chances ride heavily on the outcome of Saturday’s game, as well. The Wolfpack need three more wins. After Virginia, their schedule looks like this: at Florida State, vs. North Carolina, at Boston College, vs. Clemson, vs. Maryland. You see three wins in those final five games? Two, maybe. But I don’t see three.
All that said, how do you think Virginia will fare against N.C. State? As always, feel free to expand on your choice in the comments section below and/or shoot me an e-mail with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.