An Orange Bowl matchup between Clemson and Alabama appears increasingly likely, but the bowl's Sunday evening decision won't be made without reservations.
For bowl games outside the championship loop, selling tickets is the name of the game. The Orange Bowl will spend the next three days reading its letters and emails, trying to get a feel for whether fans of the Tigers and Crimson Tide are in a ticket-buying, traveling mood.
Both fan bases are suffering from a late-season hangover after watching their teams lose to in-state rivals last week.
The Orange Bowl is getting a full-court press from the ACC to take Clemson, and the bowl, which has the first at-large pick, isn't likely to pass on Alabama.
But as ESPN analyst Brad Edwards noted during a teleconference on Wednesday, the Orange Bowl will be taking a financial gamble matching up the Tigers and Tide.
“I understand they are a little concerned over ticket sales, and I think maybe that comes into play when they choose an opponent for Clemson," said Edwards. "There is the same concern for Alabama. Their fans traveled down to Miami for the national championship game last year, so how many of them are going to want to come back for a game that really means nothing compared to what they were down there for a year ago.
"Selling tickets is a huge bottom line for these bowl games.”
Edwards believes the ACC's relationship with the Orange Bowl will ultimately in Clemson getting a spot in the game, as long as the Tigers remain in the top 14 of the BCS standings coming out of this weekend's conference championship games.
“As to whether the Orange would pass them over if they were available, I think it really comes down to the relationship that the ACC has with the Orange Bowl,” Edwards said. "It’s not the just the (agreement) that has existed for many years now in the BCS, but the fact they also have the (new) agreement in place for the ACC champ to go there.
"It’s hard for me to imagine the Orange Bowl stiffing the ACC and going with someone else if Clemson is available.”