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ACC Bowl Projections, Week 8: Muddled Bowl Picture Could Put 10 ACC Programs In

Who's going bowling? Who's staying home?

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

At the season's halfway point, four teams from the ACC are now bowl eligible -- Florida State (6-0), Clemson (6-1), Virginia Tech (6-1) and Miami (6-0). Though we know that these programs will be bowling, little else is known about the ACC's muddled bowl picture at this point. All 10 remaining schools are still alive for a bowl berth but a few school's hopes are on life support.

Here are this year's ACC bowl tie-ins:

ACC Champ -- Orange Bowl, Miami, Jan. 3
ACC #2 -- Peach Bowl, Atlanta, Dec. 31
ACC #3 -- Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando, Dec. 28
ACC #4 -- Sun Bowl, El Paso, Dec. 31
ACC #5 -- Belk Bowl, Charlotte, Dec. 28
ACC #6 -- Music City Bowl, Nashville, Dec. 30
ACC #7 -- AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Shreveport, Dec. 31
ACC #8 -- Military Bowl, Annapolis, Dec. 27

In addition, the conference has a conditional deal with the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco if either the PAC-12 or BYU can't fulfill its commitment. At this time, both the PAC-12 and BYU are expected to fulfill their bowl commitments.

Let's break down the bowl picture for the ACC's remaining 10 programs:

Needs 1 win ...

Maryland Terrapins (5-2, 1-2 ACC)

Wins: 5
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 10/26 Clemson, 11/9 Syracuse, 11/16 @ Virginia Tech, 11/23 Boston College, 11/30 @ N.C. State

How To Get There: The Terps need just one more win to become bowl eligible this year. Home games against Syracuse (11/9) and Boston College (11/23) appear to be the most likely candidates to hit the 6-win mark. If Maryland stumbles in both those games, the regular-season finale at N.C. State, Maryland's final game in the ACC, could very well be a win-or-go-home game for both programs.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Duke Blue Devils (5-2, 1-2 ACC)

Wins: 5
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 10/26 @ Virginia Tech, 11/9 N.C. State, 11/16 Miami, 11/23 @ Wake Forest, 11/30 @ North Carolina

How To Get There: Like Maryland, Duke needs just one more win to become bowl eligible. The Blue Devils' best chance at bowl eligibility will arguably come in three weeks when they host N.C. State. If Duke doesn't take care of business there, things get a bit dicey. With presumed losses to both Virginia Tech and Miami, Duke would then have to win one of at Wake Forest / at North Carolina to return to the postseason.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Needs 2 wins ...

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

Wins: 4
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 10/26 @ Miami, 11/2 @ Syracuse, 11/9 Florida State, 11/23 Duke, 11/30 @ Vanderbilt

How To Get There: The Demon Deacons needs two wins in their final five games to make a bowl game. Unfortunately, two of those games come against Miami and Florida State, the former has Wake as an early 3 TD dog and the latter has the chance of being even uglier. The remaining three games include two road games at Syracuse and at Vanderbilt. Wake's gonna need to win one of those and beat Duke at home to get to the postseason. Right now, I don't see it.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

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

Wins: 4
Needs: 6
Remaining: 6 -- 10/26 @ Navy, 11/2 @ Georgia Tech, 11/9 Notre Dame, 11/16 North Carolina, 11/23 @ Syracuse, 11/29 Miami

How To Get There: If Pitt wants to make a bowl game this season, the Panthers will have to win this weekend at Navy. From there, Pitt would need one more win in five games. However, those games won't be easy. Pitt will benefit from defending the triple-option offense in back-to-back weeks, but a win at Georgia Tech won't come easy (ask Syracuse). Even at home, both Notre Dame and Miami lean losses. Pitt will then need to beat either North Carolina at home on November 16 or at Syracuse on November 23. Both feel like toss-up games at this point, though I'll give the Panthers one more and a trip to a bowl game not located in Birmingham.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Needs 3 wins ...

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

Wins: 4
Needs: 7 with two wins over FCS opponents (Elon, Alabama A&M); otherwise 6
Remaining: 5 -- 10/26 @ Virginia, 11/2 Pittsburgh, 11/14 @ Clemson, 11/23 Alabama A&M, 11/30 Georgia

How To Get There: Even though Georgia Tech already is up to four wins this season, the Jackets margin for error to make a bowl game is surprisingly small. Five games remain with two of those coming against Clemson and Georgia. Barring upsets in either of those games, Georgia Tech will need to win each of the remaining three games -- at Virginia, Pittsburgh and Alabama A&M to make a bowl. Virginia is in free-fall mode while Pitt should lean win. As far as FCS opponents go, Alabama A&M is ostensibly worse than Elon, a team Georgia Tech beat 70-0 in the opener.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

Boston College Eagles (3-3, 1-2 ACC)

Wins: 3
Needs: 6
Remaining: 6 -- 10/26 @ North Carolina, 11/2 Virginia Tech, 11/9 @ N.M. State, 11/16 N.C. State, 11/23 @ Maryland, 11/30 @ Syracuse

How To Get There: Like Pitt, BC is one of the few non-bowl eligible ACC teams with half a season to play (North Carolina and N.C. State are the others). Chalk New Mexico State up as a win, meaning the Eagles need to win two of its five remaining games to make the postseason. I'm not expecting BC to come out of Chapel Hill with a win (BC +8), but the Eagles should be favored going into the home finale vs. N.C. State and will pick up a road win in one of its final two games at Maryland or at Syracuse.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

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

Wins: 3
Needs: 6, I think. How are we treating the win over Wagner again?
Remaining: 5 -- 11/2 Wake Forest, 11/9 @ Maryland, 11/16 @ Florida State, 11/23 Pittsburgh, 11/30 Boston College

How To Get There: I'm having a hard time finding three more wins in the final five games for Syracuse to get to a bowl game. In all likelihood, the Orange will forget to bring its Northern football to Tallahassee on November 16, meaning SU needs wins in three of four remaining games. With an extra week of rest, I can see Syracuse knocking off Wake Forest, though the Deacs look vastly improved from the team that BC beat in week 2. Call it recency bias of getting pasted by Georgia Tech, but I have no confidence that Syracuse can take care of business in three of those four games against teams not named Florida State. Pitt has owned Syracuse in the years after BC left the Big East (7-1 Pitt) and I can't see Syracuse's defense slowing Andre Williams and BC's running backs; especially after Georgia Tech, which you knew was going to run the ball, rolled up nearly 400 yards on the SU D.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

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

Wins: 3
Needs: 6
Remaining: 6 -- 10/26 @ Florida State, 11/2 North Carolina, 11/9 @ Duke, 11/16 @ Boston College, 11/23 East Carolina, 11/30 Maryland

How To Get There: The margin of error is getting smaller and smaller for N.C. State, which is reeling after falling to 0-3 in conference play with a 24-10 home loss to Syracuse two weeks ago. Even N.C. State's final non-conference game of the season, November 23 vs. ECU, looks more like a loss than a win at this point. There are enough middling teams on the remaining schedule that bowl eligibility is still within reach, but I can't get the Pack to three more wins over the final six.

Bowl / No Bowl? No bowl

Needs 4 wins ...

Virginia Cavaliers (2-5, 0-3 ACC)

Wins: 2
Needs: 6
Remaining: 5 -- 10/26 Georgia Tech, 11/2 Clemson, 11/9 @ North Carolina, 11/23 @ Miami, 11/30 Virginia Tech

How To Get There: Pray. No other way, especially with games against #9 Clemson, #7 Miami and #14 Virginia Tech remaining. Without an upset victory in one of those three games, Virginia will be home for the holidays.

Bowl / No Bowl? Nope

Needs 5 wins ...

North Carolina Tar Heels (1-5, 0-3 ACC)

Wins: 1
Needs: 5
Remaining: 6 -- 10/26 Boston College, 11/2 @ N.C. State, 11/9 Virginia, 11/16 @ Pittsburgh, 11/23 Old Dominion, 11/30 Duke

How To Get There: The margin of error is small, but the schedule sets up nicely. I could just as easily see North Carolina win out to finish with seven victories. One loss doesn't sink the Heels chances (@ Pittsburgh?) but two do. If BC beats North Carolina this weekend, my guess is it's over. Believe it or not though, I like UNC to win at least five of six to get back to a bowl game.

Bowl / No Bowl? Bowl

An additional six bowl teams gives the conference a total of 10 with Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech and Miami. Things look promising for the ACC to put two teams into the BCS, leaving nine bowl teams for eight slots. Best guess as to how this shakes out below:

BCS -- Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC)
BCS -- Clemson (11-1, 7-1)
ACC #2 -- Miami (11-2, 7-1)
ACC #3 -- Virginia Tech (10-2, 7-1)
ACC #4 -- North Carolina (7-5, 5-3)*
ACC #5 -- Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3)*
ACC #6 -- Boston College (7-5, 4-4)
ACC #7 -- Pittsburgh (6-6, 3-5)
ACC #8 -- Duke (6-6, 2-6)
ACC At-Large -- Maryland (7-5, 3-5)

Couple notes: North Carolina and Georgia Tech finish with identical records, while the Jackets own the head-to-head. But the Sun Bowl will work a deal sending the Heels to El Paso and Georgia Tech to Charlotte since the Jackets played in El Paso last season. BC to the Music City Bowl, Pitt to Shreveport and Duke to Annapolis. The odd program out? Maryland, for obvious reasons.