ACC Bowl Projections, Week 9: Duke (!) Is Bowl Eligible, Fight Hunger Likely Bowl Out

Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

Duke ... Duke! ... is in. Fight Hunger Bowl is out.

If at the beginning of the season I were to tell you that the Duke Blue Devils would become the fifth ACC program to become bowl eligible, you'd still be laughing at me a good two months later. While I had the Blue Devils in the ACC's bowl lineup last week, I don't think there were many (any?) that predicted Duke would be bowl eligible through the first 9 weeks of the season.

The Blue Devils are just that and at 6-2, 2-2 ACC, Duke is in position to win eight or more regular season games for the first time since 1994. As Deadspin so eloquently put it on Saturday, Duke may not totally suck this year.

A total of five ACC teams are now bowl eligible -- Florida State (7-0), Clemson (7-1), Virginia Tech (6-2), Miami (7-0) and Duke (6-2). That leaves nine programs vying for 8-9 conference bowl tie-ins. With BYU accepting a bid to play in this year's Fight Hunger Bowl and the Pac-12 projected to fulfill all of its bowl commitments, it's looking like the Fight Hunger Bowl will not be an option for the ACC this season. That leaves just eight bowl tie-ins for the conference's 14 programs this season.

Let's break down the bowl picture for the ACC's remaining nine programs:

Needs 1 win ...

Maryland Terrapins (5-3, 1-3 ACC)

Wins: 5
Needs: 6
Remaining: 4 -- 11/9 Syracuse, 11/16 @ Virginia Tech, 11/23 Boston College, 11/30 @ N.C. State

How To Get There: Despite last weekend's loss to Clemson, the Terps are still in a good position to make a bowl game. Home games against Syracuse (11/9) and Boston College (11/23) appear to still be Maryland's best chance at win #6, though it could also come in the ACC finale at N.C. State.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Needs 2 wins ...

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-4, 2-3 ACC)

Wins: 4
Needs: 6
Remaining: 4 -- 11/2 @ Syracuse, 11/9 Florida State, 11/23 Duke, 11/30 @ Vanderbilt

How To Get There: The Demon Deacons could have put themselves in excellent position to make a bowl this year with a win over Miami, but Wake let the game slip away in the end with the 'Canes scoring the go-ahead TD with less than a minute remaining in the game. With a game vs. Florida State still on the schedule, the margin of error is small for the Deacs, but wins over two of Syracuse, Duke or Vanderbilt would do the trick. The Deacons are playing better of late, but so is Duke. At Vanderbilt won't be an easy out either.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

Pittsburgh Panthers (4-3, 2-2 ACC)

Wins: 4
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 @ Georgia Tech, 11/9 Notre Dame, 11/16 North Carolina, 11/23 @ Syracuse, 11/29 Miami

How To Get There: Pitt blew a golden opportunity to get within a win of bowl eligibility when the Panthers fell to Navy on a last second FG. Pittsburgh, now 4-3, 2-2 ACC, needs to win two of its five remaining games to return to a bowl game. The schedule does not set up favorably for the Panthers. After this weekend's game vs. the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, where Pitt is a 10-point dog, Pitt ends the year vs. a pretty good Notre Dame team (6-2), a North Carolina team much better than its 2-5 record would indicate (ask BC), at cross-divisional rival Syracuse and at home vs. Miami (7-0). Last week I had Pitt in the ACC bowl picture. This week, I'm changing my prediction as I'm struggling to find two more Ws on Pitt's sched.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (5-3, 4-2 ACC)

Wins: 5
Needs: 7 with two wins over FCS opponents (Elon, Alabama A&M); otherwise 6
Remaining: 4 -- 11/2 Pittsburgh, 11/14 @ Clemson, 11/23 Alabama A&M, 11/30 Georgia

How To Get There: After dispatching hapless Virginia, Georgia Tech now needs two more wins to qualify for a bowl game. With the relative ease at which the Jackets beat Elon (70-0), I can't imagine that Alabama A&M will pose much of a challenge. Pitt will still need one more win out of Pittsburgh / @ Clemson / Georgia to qualify for a bowl, but the best chance at that is this weekend vs. Pitt, where Georgia Tech finds itself a 10-point home favorite.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Needs 3 wins ...

Boston College Eagles (3-4, 1-3 ACC)

Wins: 3
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 Virginia Tech, 11/9 @ N.M. State, 11/16 N.C. State, 11/23 @ Maryland, 11/30 @ Syracuse

How To Get There: Last week I projected BC to lose to North Carolina but still make a bowl game. Nothing I saw on Saturday makes me think that the Eagles still can't get there. Two wins over a combination of Virginia Tech (BC +4.5), N.C. State, Maryland and Syracuse still seems achievable particularly with the way some of these teams have been playing down the stretch. The North Carolina loss obviously limits the ceiling for BC's final win total, so if the Eagles are going to be bowling, we're probably looking at 6-6 or 7-5. Not 8-4.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Syracuse Orange (3-4, 1-2 ACC)

Wins: 3
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 Wake Forest, 11/9 @ Maryland, 11/16 @ Florida State, 11/23 Pittsburgh, 11/30 Boston College

How To Get There: Fresh off a bye week, the Orange are looking to get back in the W column after getting pasted by Georgia Tech 56-0. Syracuse's opponent is 4-4 Wake Forest, which put a scare into 7-0 Miami this past weekend. SU is a surprising 3.5 point favorite this weekend vs. Wake Forest. Even with a win over the Deacs this weekend, I just don't see Syracuse winning two of their last four games to get to a bowl.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

N.C. State Wolfpack (3-4, 0-4 ACC)

Wins: 3
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 North Carolina, 11/9 @ Duke, 11/16 @ Boston College, 11/23 East Carolina, 11/30 Maryland

How To Get There: Not much time for State to lick its wounds after a 49-17 loss at Florida State, as the Wolfpack jumps right back into things with a home game against in-state arch rival North Carolina. N.C. State remains the most enigmatic ACC team at this point as no outcome would really surprise me. I could see State winning out and finishing with 8 wins. I could also see the 'Pack losing out. This week I tend to lean more towards the latter than the former, so I'm leaving State out of this week's bowl projections. However, a win over North Carolina (- 3.5) this weekend may change my mind.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

Needs 4 wins ...

Virginia Cavaliers (2-6, 0-4 ACC)

Wins: 2
Needs: 6
Remaining: 4 -- 11/2 Clemson, 11/9 @ North Carolina, 11/23 @ Miami, 11/30 Virginia Tech

How To Get There: One more loss on the year and Virginia will become the first ACC team to become bowl ineligible this season. As a 17-point home dog to Clemson this weekend, changes are good that this happens within the week.

Bowl / No Bowl? Nope

North Carolina Tar Heels (2-5, 1-3 ACC)

Wins: 2
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 @ N.C. State, 11/9 Virginia, 11/16 @ Pittsburgh, 11/23 Old Dominion, 11/30 Duke

How To Get There: North Carolina's slim bowl hopes got a bit better with a win over BC. The Tar Heels still need to win four of its final games to become bowl eligible, but the schedule is manageable. The nightmare scenario for UNC is going into the regular season finale vs. Duke needing one more win to become bowl eligible. I'm sure the Blue Devils would be more than willing to oblige them.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Bowl Projections after week 9

The only change from last week is Pittsburgh no longer being projected to become bowl eligible. That leaves four additional teams to join the five already bowl eligible. With just eight conference bowl tie-ins, one team will be thrown into an at-large pool and will hope that some conference won't be able to fill its existing obligations.

Date Bowl Matchup Projection Projected Record
1/3/14 Orange (Miami) ACC No. 1 vs. At-large No. 1 Florida State 13-0, 8-0 ACC
12/31/13 Peach (Atlanta) ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5 Clemson 11-1, 7-1 ACC
12/28/13 Russell Athletic (Orlando) ACC No. 3 vs. American No. 2 Miami 10-2, 6-2 ACC
12/31/13 Sun (El Paso) ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4 Virginia Tech 10-2, 7-1 ACC
12/28/13 Belk (Charlotte) ACC No. 5 vs. American No. 3 Georgia Tech 7-5, 5-3 ACC
12/30/13 Music City (Nashville) ACC No. 6 vs. SEC No. 7 Duke 8-4, 4-4 ACC
12/31/13 Independence (Shreveport) ACC No. 7 vs. SEC No. 10 North Carolina 7-5, 4-4 ACC
12/27/13 Military (Annapolis) ACC No. 8 vs. C-USA No. 5 Boston College 6-6, 3-5 ACC
ACC At-large Maryland 7-5, 3-5 ACC
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