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#ThePath Update - Boston College Football is One Week Closer to Making the 2023 ACC Championship Game

Louisville is still a major obstacle and UNC is our best friend.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Boston College at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

(Huge shoutout to Jamie DeAntonis, who researched and wrote this piece for BCI! You can check out his article from last week here.)

Last week, we looked at ways Boston College football could make the ACC championship game. At that time, the most realistic path was

  • BC finishes 4-0
  • Louisville finishes 2-1 or worse
  • BC wins what would likely be a tiebreaker scenario among 6-2 teams

Since BC doesn’t win the two-way tiebreaker with Louisville alone, but does win tiebreakers with {Louisville and Virginia Tech}, {Louisville and North Carolina}, {Louisville, Virginia Tech and North Carolina} and some others, so we also wanted

  • Virginia Tech and/or North Carolina wins out (in order to join the hypothetical tie)

We also noticed that there are some hypothetical ties whose winner is still up in the air depending on the final standings in combined win percentage of conference opponents (let’s call this CWPCO). This comes into play for tiebreakers that can’t be broken by head-to-head or common opponent comparisons. Ties such as many that both include Duke and exclude Louisville come down to CWPCO, so we have rooting interest in maintaining our lead in these standings.

After another weekend of games, let’s first update where everything stands and then look ahead at what needs to happen from here.

What happened in week 10?

Here are game results and some commentary.

Results of the most important games:

Boston College over Syracuse

  • Was this the desired result? Yes
  • Comments: we need BC to take care of its own business, and they did that in week 10

Louisville over Virginia Tech

  • Was this the desired result? No
  • Comments: this was a very path-narrowing result. We only have two more chances for Louisville to lose, and to make matters worse, Virginia Tech can no longer be one of our key tiebreaker allies

Games whose relevance is mostly due to their impact on the CWPCO standings (Team A gains or loses ground on Team B upon wins or losses by teams that A played but not B, and vice versa):

NC State over Miami

  • Was this the desired result? No
  • Comments: BC plays Miami but not NC State, while Virginia Tech and Duke play NC State but not Miami. Louisville plays both. Because of this, Virginia Tech and Duke both gained a full game on BC in the CWPCO standings, and Louisville gained .5 games. With their loss, Virginia Tech’s CWPCO doesn’t really matter anymore, and we’ll see later that neither does Louisville’s, but Duke’s still does

Florida State over Pitt

  • Was this the desired result? In retrospect, probably not
  • Comments: once Louisville beat Virginia Tech, I started rooting for FSU to lose in desperate hope that they could still fall to 6-2. This result gives us a .5 game bump in CWPCO against Louisville and UNC, but we’ll see that we don’t really care about these two teams’ CWPCO anymore

Georgia Tech over Virginia

  • Was this the desired result? Yes
  • Comments: this nets us a half-game on Duke and NC State in CWPCO

And one more game:

Duke over Wake Forest

  • Did the desired result happen? No
  • Comments: Duke is a potential spoiler in some tiebreaker scenarios, and this was a wasted opportunity to eliminate them

Where we stand after week 10

Here are the standings:

And the CWPCO standings:

I colored Virginia Tech red because with their loss, like Miami who’s been excluded from these posts, the assumption of BC winning out eliminates them. I also colored Louisville and North Carolina orange because we’ll see that their CWPCO no longer matters in any remotely likely scenario. I only included these teams because they were on the board last week and were original motivations for some week 10 rooting interest. While we still hold a lead, the final standings remain in doubt.

What changed:

  • BC is now three wins away from its goal of finishing 6-2
  • There are only two more chances for Louisville to lose; we rely on Virginia or Miami to hand them their second loss
  • After Virginia Tech’s loss, North Carolina is the only team left to help us win a 6-2 tie with Louisville
  • Our lead in CWPCO narrowed

To see what needs to happen in the future, let’s first look at where hypothetical 6-2 tiebreakers stand

Possible two-way ties are unchanged, except we no longer consider Virginia Tech:

The full slate of possible three-or-more-way ties now comes into view:

As seen in these tiebreaker tables:

  • BC loses any tiebreaker that includes Louisville and excludes North Carolina
  • BC wins any tiebreaker that includes North Carolina (North Carolina still plays Duke and NC State so it’s impossible to be tied at 6-2 with North Carolina and either of these teams)
  • Every tiebreaker that excludes both Louisville and North Carolina comes down to CWPCO, where BC currently leads but is still up in the air. The only exception is a two-way tie with Georgia Tech, which BC holds because of head-to-head

Going into week 11, the current paths are (in order of likelihood):

Path 1

  • Boston College finishes 3-0
  • North Carolina finishes 3-0
  • Louisville finishes 1-1 or 0-2

Path 2

  • Boston College finishes 3-0
  • Louisville finishes 0-2

For all of Duke, Georgia Tech and NC State, at least one of the following happens (the only exception is if Duke and NC State both lose at least one more game, Georgia Tech need not lose another game nor finish worse in CWPCO, as BC would hold the two-way tiebreaker regardless):

  • Lose at least one more game
  • Finish worse than BC in CWPCO

Path 3

  • Boston College finishes 2-1
  • Louisville finishes 0-2
  • Lots of other things happen, including North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Miami all losing at least one game

Week 11 rooting guide:

Boston College over Virginia Tech

  • Importance: extremely high
  • Impact: with any loss, our chances become very slim and we start needing lots of unlikely things to happen

Virginia over Louisville

  • Importance: high
  • Impact: we need Louisville to lose at least one more game and this is one of only two more chances to do it

North Carolina over Duke

  • Importance: high
  • Impact: since the odds are low that Louisville finishes 0-2, we probably need North Carolina to win out

Wake Forest over North Carolina State

  • Importance: low
  • Impact: this game doesn’t affect CWPCO much. Instead, it’s more important to hand NC State its third loss

Georgia Tech over Clemson

  • Importance: low
  • Impact: gain .5 games on Duke, GT and NCSU in CWPCO

Miami over Florida State

  • Importance: low
  • Impact: gain .5 games on Duke in CWPCO, our closest competitor in this category, though we lose .5 games on Georgia Tech and NC State

Syracuse over Pitt

  • Importance: low
  • Impact: gain .5 games on Duke and NC State in CWPCO, though we lose .5 games on GT

Overall, there are three big games this weekend, with all others having a very small impact on the remaining paths. Furthermore, a Louisville win on Thursday would eliminate paths 2 and 3, possibly rendering all the low-importance games meaningless before they even happen. In order to stay alive through week 11, we need either (a) Louisville to lose (keeping path 2 and 3 open in any case) or (b) North Carolina and BC to both win (keeping path 1 open). If so, we’ll see you next week.