Tangerine or Tire?

After a thrilling 27-20 win over South Carolina Saturday night, it now appears as the Tigers are in position to go to one of two bowl games. Either the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando or the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte will be Clemson's post-season destination this year. Which one however, still looks to be a difficult question to answer.

The Clemson Tigers not only picked up a crucial late season win over South Carolina last night, they also improved their chances to get down to Orlando for the Tangerine Bowl on December 23rd.

Or did they?

For those of you that missed it, the Virginia Cavaliers made some noise in the Atlantic Coast Conference yesterday by routing one of the hottest teams in the country in the Maryland Terrapins.

"That definitely makes life tougher for Clemson," said Glen Conwell, one of the selection committee members for the Tangerine Bowl. "In a simple world, they would have lost today like they were supposed to, but obviously that didn't happen."

The Tangerine Bowl will get the fourth pick from the ACC this year, right after the Peach Bowl. And with Virginia's 48-13 win, the Cavaliers may be a more attractive team, simply because they have a better record, they beat Clemson earlier this year, and they have an opportunity to end their regular season with a bang by beating archrival Virginia Tech.

A win over the Hokies would likely force the Tangerine Bowl selection committee to choose the Cavs over Clemson, and if that were to happen, the Tigers' postseason destination will be the Continental Tire Bowl on December 28th, likely against those very same Virginia Tech Hokies.

"Part of getting a team down here is selling tickets and we know that Clemson will sell tickets," Conwell added. "Their games have gone out across the nation, people know who they are. But if Virginia were to win next week, that would obviously work in their favor."

Conference champion Florida State, runner up Maryland, Virginia, and N.C. State have the four best records in the ACC this year.

This means that FSU will head to the BCS as ACC champs, Maryland will go to the Gator to battle the 2nd best team in Big East, N.C. State will head to Atlanta in the Peach Bowl to match up against a team from the SEC, and the Tangerine will have the option of picking the Tigers or Yellow Jackets (both 4-4 in the conference) over Virginia.

The Continental Tire Bowl will pick 5th, and should the Tangerine decide not to chose the Tigers, Ken Haines, the executive director of the Tire Bowl itself, said late last week he would likely pick the Tigers if they were available.

That sceario would likely send Georgia Tech back to the Seattle Bowl, just one year after defeating Stanford.

For most of the players, the Tangerine Bowl appears to be the early favorite. "It doesn't matter to me, but I'd really like to go somewhere where it's warm right now," offensive lineman Gary Bryd with a chuckle. "Anywhere but Boise, I don't think I could do that again."

If the Tigers are fortunate enough to play in Orlando, Clemson would face a team from the Big XII, possibly Iowa State and Heisman Trophy candidate QB Seneca Wallace.

The exposure in the talent rich state of Florida would continue to build the recruiting momentum which began last night in the Tigers' win over South Carolina and also allow Clemson to face a team not usually on the post season agenda.

A decision from the Tangerine on their ACC selection could down as early as today, but more than likely nothing will be set in stone until the final week of the regular season- which is this weekend.

Virginia and Georgia Tech will battle archrivals Virginia Tech and Georgia respectively, and the results of those two games will go a long way in determining the Tigers' post-season fate.

If you like fruit, you'll be rooting for both teams to lose, if you need some new tires, you'll want to see Bulldogs and Hokies take care of business.

"Clemson has a lot of support on the committee, but there are always other variables to consider," said Conwell. "If I was a betting man, I'd say the odds were a good bit better than 50-50."

With all the bowl game confusion, only one thing remains a certainty. Anything's better than playing on the blue turf.

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