Brian: The last person I would have wanted to be on Sunday morning was John Swofford. Georgia Tech just finished their upset of Virginia Tech, ending any outside chance that Virginia Tech would be playing in the BCS National Championship. It’s looking like now Miami (Fla.) has a shot - albeit a very remote one at that - at the BCS National Championship game, but a lot of dominoes would have to fall just the Hurricanes way for that to happen. Another year, another disappointment in terms of getting an ACC team to the BCS National Championship Game.
In addition, all signs are pointing towards the Coastal Division race heading for a messy finish. If Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Georgia Tech all win the rest of their ACC games and finish 7-1, the ACC will have to go to the seventh tiebreaker which invokes the BCS standings. Indeed, this is the same messy tiebreaker that denied Texas a shot at the Big XII Championship game and a spot in the National Championship Game. Now some say that no publicity is bad publicity, but I can’t see this potential controversy being welcomed in the league office.
However, these two issues might not even be the biggest obstacle Swofford will face this season. There is another, more ugly threat looming out there that could threaten to destroy any goodwill the ACC has received this year from having three teams flirting with the Top 10 ...
Specifically, the number of bowl-eligible teams the ACC will send to the already bloated postseason. I’m here to tell you the situation this year is looking grim. While some MSM bloggers in the preseason seemed to suggest that the ACC would send a record 10 teams bowling again this season - which I duly laughed at - I never thought it would be this bad. Right now, I only see six, maybe seven teams bowling from the ACC.
Currently, only Georgia Tech is bowl eligible at 6-1. Three other ACC teams - Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and BC - are one win away and will more than likely get that sixth win the next few weeks. The rest of the conference? Well, you be the judge. Let’s take a look at the remaining ACC teams in terms of likelihood of going to a bowl this winter.
Clemson - 3-3 (number of wins needed for bowl-eligibility: 3)
Likely wins: Coastal Carolina, Florida State, at NC State, Virginia
Likely losses: at Miami (Fla.)
Toss up: at South Carolina
Wake Forest - 4-3 (wins: 2)
Likely wins: None
Likely losses: Miami (Fla.), at Georgia Tech
Toss up: at Navy, at Duke, Florida State
North Carolina - 4-2 (wins: 3)
Likely wins: Duke
Likely losses: at Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.)
Toss up: Florida State, Boston College, at NC State
Florida State - 2-4 (wins: 4)
Likely wins: NC State, Maryland
Likely losses: at Clemson, at Florida
Toss up: at North Carolina, at Wake Forest
Virginia - 3-3 (wins: 3)
Likely wins: None
Likely losses: Georgia Tech, at Miami (Fla.), at Clemson, Virginia Tech
Toss up: Duke, Boston College
Duke - 3-3 (wins: 4)
Likely wins: Maryland
Likely losses: at North Carolina, Georgia Tech, at Miami (Fla.)
Toss up: at Virginia, Wake Forest
NC State - 3-4 (wins: 4)
Likely wins: Maryland
Likely losses: at Florida State, Clemson, at Virginia Tech
Toss up: North Carolina
Maryland - 2-5 (wins: 4)
Likely wins: None
Likely losses: at Duke, at NC State, Virginia Tech, at Florida State, Boston College
Toss up: None
What I can gather from this is that Clemson is most likely to become bowl eligible of the remaining teams, followed by Wake Forest, who needs to take 2 of 3 from at Navy, at Duke and Florida State. Don’t sleep on Navy or Duke’s chances to knock off Wake Forest, however, and there’s no telling what Wake Forest-Florida State will have in store.
Florida State has an uphill battle, and I think Thursday night’s game between the Seminoles and the Tar Heels will be a virtual bowl-elimination game. If UNC loses, they would have to win 3 of 5 of their remaining games, and I could easily see Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and Boston College beating the Heels. A Seminole loss would mean FSU would have to go 4-1 down the stretch and sweep their remaining games against Atlantic Division opponents (at Clemson, at Wake Forest, NC State, Maryland). Chances of that aren’t very likely.
The North Carolina teams did themselves and the league no favors this year each scheduling two teams from the ranks of the FCS. As a result, UNC, NC State and Duke all have to win seven games to go bowling. I don’t like NC State’s chances to win 4 of 5 with Clemson and at Virginia Tech left on the sched. I also don't like Duke’s chances to win 4 of 6 with Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.) and one other loss somewhere on the schedule (at Virginia? at North Carolina?). C'mon. They're Duke.
So if I were a betting man, I would guess that at this point that the ACC will field 6, maybe 7 teams in bowls this season. A far cry from the 10 predicted in the preseason or even the 9 that Jeff and I predicted. If one of the three teams earns a berth in a BCS at-large bowl, great news for the conference’s top line revenue, but very bad news for the conference’s bowl tie-ins. If an ACC program does receive a BCS at-large berth, that would send the Emerald Bowl, EagleBank Bowl, GMAC Bowl and possibly even the Meineke Car Care Bowl searching for replacement teams.
Finally, if you were interested in who exactly my 6 or 7 ACC bowl-eligible teams are, they are Miami (11-1), Georgia Tech (11-1), Virginia Tech (10-2), Clemson (8-4), Boston College (8-4) and the winner of Florida State/North Carolina (6-6). Wake Forest just misses out at 5-7 as they lose to Miami (Fla.), Georgia Tech and Florida State, and split with Duke and Navy on the road.
Jeff, how many ACC teams you have bowling?
Jeff: As usual I am a little more optimistic than you are for the ACC this season. But, if I'm wrong and the ACC does only get 6 teams, but 2 in BCS bowls, I wouldn't be at all surprised if Swofford is perfectly content with that.
First, I expect Florida State to beat North Carolina somewhat easily on Thursday and head on to bowl eligibility. Then I have Wake Forest becoming bowl eligible this season. They only need to win two more games and can easily win the games at both Navy and Duke. So the four teams I have going to bowls on the Atlantic side are Boston College (9-3 or 8-4), Clemson (7-5), Florida State (7-5 or 6-6) and Wake Forest (6-6). On the Coastal side I only expect Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech to become bowl eligible all at either 11-1 or 10-2. That's seven bowl eligible teams. Some of the bowls that have signed contracts with the ACC know there is a very reasonable chance that an ACC team might not fill their slot so I really don't think this is a huge deal. Would the conference like more bowl eligible teams? Yes. But would they like more bowl eligible teams at the expense of a Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech or Miami getting a BCS at-large bid? Absolutely not.