Over the weekend the ACC added two more bowl teams as Pitt (17-16 winners over Syracuse) and North Carolina (80-20 winners over Old Dominion not a typo) became the ACC's bowl-eligible teams numbers 9 and 10. Wake Forest was eliminated from bowl contention after falling to Duke 28-21.
From the ACC, ten teams are now bowl eligible:
-- Florida State (11-0, 8-0 ACC)
-- Clemson (10-1, 7-1 ACC)
-- Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC)
-- Miami (8-3, 4-3 ACC)
-- Virginia Tech (7-4, 4-3 ACC)
-- Georgia Tech (7-4, 5-3 ACC)
-- Boston College (7-4, 4-3 ACC)
-- Pittsburgh (6-5, 3-4 ACC)
-- North Carolina (6-5, 4-3 ACC)
-- Maryland (6-5, 2-5 ACC)
Virginia (2-9, 0-7 ACC), N.C. State (3-8, 0-7 ACC) and Wake Forest (4-7, 2-6 ACC) are now bowl ineligible, leaving just one program needing a win in the regular season finale to punch a ticket to the postseason. Oh hi Syracuse!
How great is this? No, really. Tell me how great this is. Syracuse couldn't close out Pittsburgh and will need a win in its final game vs. Boston College and the Eagles senior running back slash Heisman hopeful slash Mack truck Andre Williams to earn a bowl berth. After jumping out to a 5-4 record, the Orange has lost two straight and need to "upset" BC just to become bowl eligible. As I've done in weeks past, I'm going to go with the point spread (BC -1.5) and leave Syracuse out this week, though obviously the Orange could easily jump into the ACC bowl mix with a win.
Bowl Projections after week 12
This week's bowl projections are contingent on which program emerges as the Coastal Division champ / Florida State sacrificial lamb. Here are the eight scenarios courtesy of Syracuse.com's Patrick Stevens. Four of those scenarios -- the ones that involve Virginia winning a football game -- you can probably dismiss out of hand. A Virginia Tech win over Virginia eliminates both Miami and Georgia Tech from ACC Championship Game contention and gives us just two scenarios left:
-- If Duke beats North Carolina, Duke wins the Coastal.
-- If North Carolina beats Duke, Virginia Tech wins the Coastal.
Which team emerges as the Coastal Division champ is important, as the ACC Championship Game runner up can fall no further than fourth in the ACC's bowl pecking order (the Sun Bowl). If Duke ends up winning the Coastal, I have to think the Blue Devils end up in El Paso. Even with a record of 6-2 in conference play, as many as four other schools could jump the Blue Devils in the ACC's bowl pecking order -- a group that includes Virginia Tech (likely 5-3), Miami (possibly 5-3), Boston College (possibly 5-3) and Georgia Tech (definitely 5-3).
Further complicating matters is the fact that Virginia Tech opened the season in Atlanta in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic opposite Alabama. The Peach Bowl may be reticent to select Virginia Tech a second time, giving the Hokies a season-opening AND season-ending game in Atlanta. That said, that would not be unprecedented as this occurred in 2009 (Virginia Tech vs. Alabama in the Kickoff Classic, Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee in the bowl game) and last season (Clemson vs. Auburn in the Kickoff Classic, Clemson vs. LSU in the bowl). Virginia Tech is one of the few programs for which the Atlanta-based bowl would make an exception.
If I had to wager a guess, a resurgent North Carolina squad (-4) knocks off Duke this weekend and Virginia Tech (-12.5) beats Virginia, giving the Hokies -- yet again -- the Coastal Division crown. Virginia Tech falls to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, which gives the Seminoles a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
Win or lose against South Carolina this weekend, I see #6 Clemson holding onto a top 14 BCS ranking to become the ACC replacement in the Orange Bowl. For reference, Oregon dropped eight spots in this week's BCS rankings (5 to 13) after a loss to unranked Arizona. South Carolina, Clemson's week 14 opponent, currently sits at #10 in the BCS standings.
The Peach then takes 9-3 Miami, while 8-5 Virginia Tech lands in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The rest of the lineup gets pretty convoluted, with ACC bowls 4-7 having to select among the following teams: 5-3 North Carolina, 5-3 Duke, 5-3 Georgia Tech and 5-3 Boston College.
With yet another Pac-12 shakeup over the weekend, it's possible that USC will fall to the Sun Bowl (Pac-12 #4), making a Boston College Sun Bowl selection, and the resulting BC-USC rematch, unlikely. However, the Sun may not want back-to-back visits from the Trojans, even if USC's turnaround under Ed Orgeron makes for a good story. For now, let's say USC (-3.5) beats UCLA this weekend to land in the Sun, though obviously that game could go either way.
That's unfortunate, because for all the talk of Boston College's poor travel rep and getting passed over by bowl games, Andre Williams has made BC a more attractive bowl team this year. The Heisman hopeful has become the story as he looks to end the season with one of the NCAA's top 5 rushing performances; making BC a better option than in most years.
The Sun Bowl also is not going to take Georgia Tech for a fourth straight year, leaving the bowl to select between North Carolina or Duke. Since Duke played in the Belk Bowl last year and Cincinnati is the projected American team in Charlotte (a rematch of last year's Belk Bowl), I have the Sun Bowl selecting Duke and the Belk Bowl Carolina.
The Music City Bowl would then have to decide between 5-3 BC and 5-3 Georgia Tech. If Georgia falls to the Music City Bowl, it'll be BC here to avoid a Georgia-Georgia Tech rematch. But if Georgia Tech beats Georgia this weekend, that gives the Yellow Jackets a boost over BC and will likely send Georgia down the SEC's bowl pecking order (flipping the Bulldogs with Ole Miss). Even without Aaron Murray, the Bulldogs are a 3-point favorite over Georgia Tech this weekend in Atlanta. I'll give Georgia the win and a spot in the Music City Bowl opposite BC.
The Independence Bowl has to select Georgia Tech via the "one loss" rule, leaving the Military Bowl to select between 3-5 Pittsburgh and 3-5 Maryland. What the Military Bowl does here will be interesting to see. Does the Annapolis-based bowl select a local Maryland team over Pitt? Or will they go with the school that isn't leaving the conference for the Big Ten? (The Military Bowl will retain ties to the ACC and become an ACC vs. American bowl for the next cycle). Military Bowl officials likely also took note of the fact that BC's visit in the Terps ACC finale drew the lowest Byrd Stadium crowd of the year (32,147). What would be the turnout for a late December game against a middle-of-the-pack Conference USA team?
The Military Bowl takes Pitt, making Maryland a bowl free agent. The Terps land in a Big Ten-affiliated bowl a year early to face Ball State from the MAC.
|1/3/14||BCS National Championship Game (Pasadena)||BCS 1 vs. BCS 2||Florida State||13-0, 8-0 ACC|
|1/3/14||Orange (Miami)||ACC No. 1 vs. At-large No. 1||Clemson||10-2, 7-1 ACC|
|12/31/13||Peach (Atlanta)||ACC No. 2 vs. SEC No. 5||Miami||9-3, 5-3 ACC|
|12/28/13||Russell Athletic (Orlando)||ACC No. 3 vs. American No. 2||Virginia Tech||8-5, 5-3 ACC|
|12/31/13||Sun (El Paso)||ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4||Duke||9-3, 5-3 ACC|
|12/28/13||Belk (Charlotte)||ACC No. 5 vs. American No. 3||North Carolina||7-5, 5-3 ACC|
|12/30/13||Music City (Nashville)||ACC No. 6 vs. SEC No. 7||Boston College||8-4, 5-3 ACC|
|12/31/13||Independence (Shreveport)||ACC No. 7 vs. SEC No. 10||Georgia Tech||7-5, 5-3 ACC|
|12/27/13||Military (Annapolis)||ACC No. 8 vs. C-USA No. 5||Pittsburgh||6-6, 3-5 ACC|
|12/26/13||Little Caesars (Detroit)||At-large (was Big Ten No. 8)||Maryland||7-5, 3-5 ACC|