Slacks, Sun, and Sweatshirts: The ACC Bowl Picture After Week 9

Grant Halverson

BYU and BC turn the bowl picture upside down.

After week 8, Florida State, Clemson, and Duke were all bowl eligible from the ACC. After week 9, Florida State, Clemson, and Duke remain the only bowl eligible teams from the conference. After Georgia Tech was destroyed at home by BYU and Maryland, down to its 4th quarterback, lost to Boston College, the experts have looked at the standings and come to the conclusion that the ACC will not be able to fill its allotment of bowl spots (see chart below). That's probably a safer bet than taking the Pack or Terps to cover last weekend.

Bowl

College Football News

ESPN's Brad Edwards

ESPN's Mark Schlabach

Orange

Florida State vs. Rutgers

Florida State vs. Boise State

Florida State vs. Boise State

Chic-Fil-A

Clemson vs. Mississippi St.

Clemson vs. Mississippi St.

Clemson vs. Mississippi State

Russell Athletic

Miami vs. Louisville

Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers

N. C. State vs. Rutgers

Sun

Virginia Tech vs. Arizona

N. C. State vs. Oregon State

Duke vs. Arizona

Belk

N. C. State vs. Cincinnati

Duke vs. Cincinnati

Miami vs. Cincinnati

Music City

Arizona State vs. Tennessee

Miami vs. Tennessee

Virginia Tech vs. Vanderbilt

Independence

Duke vs. SMU

Arkansas St. vs. Utah State

Louisiana Tech vs. TCU

Military

San Jose State vs. Ball State

Bowling Green vs. AZ St.

Ball State vs. Middle Tenn. St.

My fellow Kool-Aid sippers, though you will certainly not see it listed adjacent to the Orange Bowl line in the above chart, N. C. State still has a chance, but now it will need some help. FSU has games at Virginia Tech and Maryland remaining on its ACC slate. Virginia Tech has won the ACC 3 times since the last time FSU did it, and the Hokies of old would have likely been a favorite in this game, but in this incredibly disappointing year for Beamerball look for them to open as a double-digit dog. Nonetheless, primetime road games have a way of derailing the Seminoles, and Virginia Tech likely has the better team than N. C. State at just about every position save quarterback, so if the Wolfpack can do it, perhaps so can the Hokies.

Of course a surprise Seminoles' loss more than likely opens the door for Clemson, not N. C. State, unless the Pack can win out. Doing so would require the Pack to win in Death Valley for the first time since 2002. The porous Pack D could not stop a one-man offense led by the Italian Stallion, so who knows how it would slow the three-headed monster of DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Andre Ellington. State has held the Tigers about 20 points under their scoring average in the last two meetings, but that was with a much more explosive group of playmakers at the linebacker position and an overall defense that yielded many, many fewer big plays.

Presumably N. C. State would get the nod in a three-way tie with FSU and Clemson since it would be 2-0 against the teams it tied with, but honestly I do not know how the tiebreaker rule works in the case of a ménage a trois, and odds are overwhelmingly against needing to know it. Hopefully a few fortuitous turns of events will have us scrambling to find out in a few weeks.

And now back to reality. Somehow College Football News had the Pack climbing the bowl ladder from the Music City Bowl to the Belk Bowl despite the epic bed shitting in Chapel Hill. I cannot think of a less interesting matchup than Cincinnati, though Munchie Legaux offers some fun punning opportunities and we do owe them one after the embarrassment the Bearcats brought to Wolfpack Nation in last season's nationally televised ESPN affair. There is at least one positive to the Belk Bowl: it's an easy drive for most of the fan base. Oh, and slacks. Don't forget the pleated khakis to the first 10,000 fans at Ericsson Bank of America Stadium.

ESPN's Brad Edwards has the pack dropping a rung from the Russell Wilson is Athletic Bowl to the Sun Bowl. IN CASE THERE IS STILL ANY CONFUSION: THE SUN DEVILS PLAY IN ARIZONA, BUT THE SUN BOWL IS AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN IN EL PASO, TEXAS. While playing Oregon State (currently 11th in BCS rankings) would be refreshingly different than the recent spate of Big East opponents, odds are that most of Wolfpack Nation will still be uncertain about where this game is after it is all said and done. Who is going to spend their New Year's Eve in exciting downtown El Paso? At least the Sun Bowl does have a rich and storied history (seriously).

ESPN's Mark Schlabach has the Wolfpack hanging in there in the RWiAB, but now we are taking on Rutgers instead of Louisville, which is looking more and more like the Big East's BCS rep. Rutgers was looking like the BCS rep until it ran into traditional powerhouse Kent State. You simply cannot schedule non-conference teams of that caliber if you plan on running the table. A rematch of the epic 2008 Pizza Bowl is personally my least favorite option of the 3 above. The whole protect-Russell-Wilson's-future-while-the-other-team-comes-back-and-wins thing did leave me bitter, but that was a long time ago. Though perhaps it would be poetic justice to exact revenge from those same Scarlet Knights in the bowl that was named after Russell.

(What's that? Russell Athletic is a sporting goods company? So I guess the bowl is named after his apparel line. I didn't know Russell Wilson had two sporting goods companies. I wonder why Wilson doesn't sponsor a bowl?)

Here's a snapshot at the ACC's bowl picture:

In: FSU, Clemson, Duke.

Out: UNC, of course, is not eligible for a bowl payday thanks to its malfeasance. As far as I'm concerned the Wolfpack get the last laugh here so long as they win one more game.

One Win Away: N. C. State (vs. Virginia, vs. Wake Forest, @ Clemson, vs. Boston College)

Two Wins Away: Maryland (vs. Georgia Tech, @ Clemson, vs. Florida State, @ UNC); Miami (vs. Virginia Tech, @ Virginia, vs. South Florida, @ Duke); Virginia Tech (@ Miami, vs. Florida State, @ Boston College, vs. Virginia); Wake Forest (vs. Boston College, @ N. C. State, @ Notre Dame, vs. Vanderbilt)

Three Wins Away: Georgia Tech (@ UNC, vs. Duke, @ Georgia)

Must Win Out: Boston College (@ Wake Forest, vs. Notre Dame, vs. Virginia Tech, @ N. C. State); Virginia (@ N. C. State, vs. Miami, vs. UNC, @ Virginia Tech)

In sum, it looks more and more like Virginia Tech will end up right where most thought they would be by the end of the season: playing for the ACC championship. Meanwhile, future mostly ACC member Notre Dame will have the chance to kill some of its future league mates' bowl hopes down the stretch but perhaps kill its own national title hopes in the process due to the strength of schedule hit it will take in the process. And speaking of national title hopes, why no outrage for Louisville? The Cardinals are undefeated, but, at 10th in the BCS rankings behind a two-loss Gamecocks squad among other non-undefeateds, they are decidedly not in the conversation. If they were an upstart non-BCS squad, everyone would be up in arms about how unfair the system is. Amiright?

UPDATE: Maryland loses Rowe for season. Down to its 4th, 5th oh fuck it a linebacker at QB. (Hat tip raysfan81)

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