CHARLOTTESVILLE, NOV. 14 -- A banner proclaiming that the Virginia Cavaliers are "Bowl Bound!" is a rare decoration to Scott Stadium. But there it was today, draped from the upper deck as Virginia and North Carolina prepared to square off for the right to hope for a postseason bid.

By the time Randy Marriott eluded Cavaliers cornerback Jason Wallace and breezed into the end zone midway through the third quarter to put the Tar Heels up, 17-7, the sign ominously had been removed. And when the Cavaliers had completed their thrilling 20-17, come-from-behind win, it was probably forgotten and trampled as many of the 38,400 fans swarmed the field in celebration.

But the message remained. The win raised Virginia's record to 6-4 and entrenched the Cavaliers as a strong contender for either the Independence or All-American bowls, both of which had scouts in attendance.

"Right now, they've got my vote," said Bill Moffett, the Independence Bowl representative. "Every bowl is looking for an exciting team, and they certainly showed that today. I'm going to go back to our next meeting and push like hell for them."

The search committee for the Independence Bowl, played Dec. 21 in Shreveport, La., will pick at least one team from a pool of Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Arkansas and Texas Christian, Moffett said. The committee would like to fill the other spot with an ACC team -- provided Tennessee or Louisiana State doesn't slip from the major bowl picture -- and Virginia forged ahead of North Carolina and Wake Forest with the win.

The All-American (Dec. 22 in Birmingham) seems a more distant possibility. "They needed a win today to put themselves back in the picture," All-American representative Jess Miller said. "They're still an underdog for us."

Georgia seems to be the All-American committee's first choice as a host team, with Virginia and Wake Forest bracketed together as long-shot possibilities and Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina on the committee's wish list. The All-American visitor likely will come from among Pittsburgh, Iowa, Ohio State and Brigham Young, Miller said.

Bowl talk of any kind was a pleasant change of pace for most Cavaliers players in light of last season's 3-8 record, even if Coach George Welsh wasn't quite giddy about postseason prospects. "I don't like to talk about ifs," Welsh said. "The players talked about it this week much more than I did. We've got to win another one anyway {next week's regular season finale at N.C. State} to have any chance at all."