Another week of games means another week of clarification on how bowl season may play out. Here’s where the ACC stands.
CFP & NY6
Based on current results, we’re going to say Wake Forest will get the honor of representing the ACC as its champion. It’s unlikely that the Demon Deacons will go totally undefeated and make the College Football Playoff. Instead, they will be sent to an NY6 bowl as an at-large, as they’re 7-0 right now and ranked #13, so they could be ranked in the top-12 as a future conference champion. Typically the ACC champion would automatically be sent to the Orange Bowl, but the Orange Bowl is a CFP game this year, so an ACC representative in the NY6 is not guaranteed. Still, I believe Wake will be sent to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix to play against another at-large. The other option would be the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Next, Notre Dame is allied with the ACC for bowl bids, but can also earn an at-large spot themselves in a number of bowls. Being 6-1 at the moment and ranked #11 in the country, it is likely that Notre Dame will be selected for an NY6 bowl and I predict they will be sent to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
The next tier of ACC bowl games is an even selection process between 8 different bowls:
- The Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando versus Big 12 (last played by Miami)
- The Gator Bowl in Jacksonville versus SEC (last played by NC State)
- The Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte versus SEC (last played by Wake Forest)
- The Sun Bowl in El Paso versus Pac-12 (canceled in 2020, last played by FSU in 2019)
- The New Era Pinstripe Bowl in NYC versus Big Ten (canceled in 2020, last played by Wake Forest in 2019)
- The Holiday Bowl in San Diego versus Pac-12 (new to the ACC)
- The Fenway Bowl in Boston versus the American Athletic (brand new)
- The Military Bowl in Annapolis versus the American Athletic (canceled in 2020, last played by UNC in 2019)
These bowls likely won’t select the same school two times in a row, and will mostly try to avoid selecting a school that has attended in the past few years.
Now other likely ACC bowl teams will include, in order of expected finish:
- Pitt (6-1) clinched
- Virginia (6-2) clinched
- NC State (5-2)
- Clemson (4-3)
- Louisville (4-3)
- Boston College (4-3)
- UNC (4-3)
- Syracuse (4-4)
- Georgia Tech (3-4)
- Miami (3-4)
Given that information, these top 8 bowls are likely to select...
- Pitt to the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando versus Big 12 (Iowa State? Baylor?)
- Virginia to the Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte versus SEC (Tennessee? Auburn?)
- NC State to the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in NYC versus Big Ten (Penn State? Minnesota?)
- Clemson to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville versus SEC (Florida? Auburn?)
- Louisville to the Sun Bowl in El Paso versus Pac-12 (Oregon State? UCLA?)
- Boston College to the Fenway Bowl in Boston versus the American Athletic (Tulsa? Houston?)
- UNC to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego versus Pac-12 (UCLA? Arizona State?)
- Syracuse to the Military Bowl in Annapolis versus the American Athletic (UCF? East Carolina?)
Two ACC teams remain to be sent to a lower-tier bowl:
- The Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa versus SEC or AAC or Pac-12
- The Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham versus SEC or AAC
- The First Responder Bowl in Dallas versus Big XII or C-USA or AAC
My prediction is: