Story by Chris Graham
Virginia fell short of its improbable dream of winning the ACC.
The consolation prize – the program’s first New Year’s Day bowl appearance in 14 years.
“We’re very excited to be coming down to the game. This is a game that we kind of had in our sights once the whole process started. So we’re very pleased that it worked out the way that it did,” UVa. coach Al Groh said today at a news conference making formal the Gator Bowl invite.
The Cavs (9-3, 6-2 ACC) will face Texas Tech (8-4, 4-4 Big 12) in the Jan. 1 contest in Jacksonville.
The Red Raiders present an intriguing foe for Virginia. Texas Tech averages 42 points and 476 passing yards per game.
Texas Tech split its final two games in 2007 with Texas and Oklahoma – falling 59-43 to the Longhorns in Austin on Nov. 10 and defeating the Sooners 34-27 on Nov. 17 in Lubbock.
UVa., for its part, was in the running for the ACC Coastal Division championship until the final week of the ’07 regular season – in which it lost to the BCS #3 Virginia Tech Hokies by a 33-21 final in Charlottesville.
Scott Keith, the chairman of the Gator Bowl selection committee, said at today’s news conference that the bowl had had Virginia in its sights from the start of its selection process seven weeks ago.
“We were excited to have a team like the Virginia Cavaliers in our mix with the option to bring them down to Jacksonville,” Keith said. “It’s truly a pleasure for us – a wonderful tradition of academics and athletics, and Coach Groh this year being the ACC coach of the year certainly reflects all of the positives of the university.
“We’ve been looking at Virginia for a good while now. Obviously this has been a very interesting year in college football when it comes down to the overall bowl-selection process. It’s been very fun. But Virginia has been at the top of the list for quite a while now – ever since really you started going on your seven-win run,” Keith said.
For more …
Listen to the press conference in its entirety on “The SportsDominion Show” – which will debut tomorrow at 7 p.m. on The SportsDominion.
Chris Graham is the executive editor of The SportsDominion.