First, here's the non-BCS bowl selection order for the ACC this year.
- Chick-fil-A Bowl
- Russell Athletic Bowl
- Sun Bowl
- Belk Bowl
- Music City Bowl
- Advocare V100 Bowl
- Military Bowl
- Little Ceasars Bowl: (The ACC does not currently have tie-ins with this bowl, but may be able to work out a deal because the Big 10 will not have enough bowl eligible teams to fill it.)
Remember, the ACCCG loser can't fall past the Sun Bowl, and the bowls are limited in their discretion by the one-win rule, which disallows bowl selection committees from selecting a team with two or more fewer wins than another available team.
Next year the ACC bowl selection process will become more of a discussion with the bowl committees working closely with the conference to find a (hopefully regionally relevant) team that works best for everyone. That's not yet the case though, so here are the conference records of each bowl eligible team (ties sorted alphabetically):
- FSU: 8-0
- Clemson: 7-1
- Duke: 6-2
- Georgia Tech: 5-3
- Miami: 5-3
- Virginia Tech: 5-3
- Boston College: 4-4
- Syracuse: 4-4
- Maryland: 3-5
- Pittsburgh: 3-5
1. Florida State 11-0 (8-0)
Projection: BCS National Championship Game
Not too long ago, Florida State v. Florida was one of the best rivalries in college football. Florida didn't hold up their end of the bargain this year, not that anyone expected them too. FSU rolled over the Gators 37-7 and now are a win (against Duke) away from Pasadena.
The Noles were supposed to be a National Championship team last year, not this year. They lost about 100 players to the NFL and 18 assistants to new jobs so many expected them to take a temporary step back. Evidently, FSU has returned to to the level where they can simply reload. Their QB gets drafted in the 1st round; their redshirt freshman is even better. Kudos to Florida State on a great season. They'll roll over Ohio State if that ends up being the matchup.
2. Clemson 10-2 (7-1)
Up Next: Orange Bowl
Spurrier is an evil genius. His adjustment to move away from Mike Davis and use Connor Shaw and the QB draw worked beautifully as Shaw ran for 94 yards. The late pass out of the wildcat worked as a play-action pass to seal the the deal with a big TD.
Boyd played decent enough on the few possessions he was given until the later part of the game when he fumbled, and then threw interceptions on back-to-back drives. He's one of the two best QBs in school history, but could have passed Rodney Williams with a win in Williams-Brice this past weekend.
Clemson finishes 10-2, but only 1-2 vs. ranked opponents. They've done a great job beating mediocre teams the last two seasons, but nobody is going to get too excited about a season that doesn't include a win over the Chickens.
Luckily, Fresno State and Wisconsin both lost. They were sitting at 15th and 16th in the BCS rankings last week. With that bit of help, Clemson held onto a top 14 spot in the BCS poll (13th), so I still expect the Orange Bowl to select the Tigers as the ACC replacement for FSU, otherwise the Orange Bowl would likely get stuck with NIU again. (This assumes the B1G ends the season with two teams in the top 14 and NIU wins their conference). If so, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Seminoles for taking care of business and helping us out.
If Ohio State wins the B1G, the SEC Champion is headed to the Sugar Bowl instead of the National Championship. The Orange Bowl has the first at-large selection. That sets up an SEC v. ACC matchup in Miami. Does anybody think Clemson can keep it close with Alabama? Ouch!
Non-BCS Bowl Bound
3. Duke 9-2 (5-2)
Projection: Chick-fil-A Bowl
I did not pick Duke to win this week's game in Chapel Hill, so I'm extremely impressed. David Cutcliffe is simply a great coach and is getting everything and then some from his players. He is a slam dunk for the ACC Coach of the Year. Duke is the surprise team of the conference and has had arguably the greatest year in school history (their first 10-win season).
With Duke wrapping up the Coastal this week, they'll play FSU in the ACCCG. I don't give them much of a chance in that game, however even with a loss they have a great shot at a bid to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. However, If Clemson falls out of the BCS Duke would head end up in Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Chick-fil-A Bowl Committee could also get a little nasty and choose Miami based purely on brand name dropping Duke to the Russell Athletic Bowl. Still, those scenarios are less likely than the one projected which has Duke to Atlanta against a strong SEC opponent--most likely Texas A&M.
4. Miami 9-3 (5-3)
Projection: Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami gave up 21 second half points, but held on to beat Pittsburgh 41-31 in Heinz Field. It was their 9th win of the season. After years of self-imposed penalties and generally mediocre football, that's a step in the right direction. Their reward will most likely be a trip to Disney World. The Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando is their most likely destination now. Although that seems disappointing given their mid-season #7 ranking, in the grand scheme of things its continued improvement.
5. Georgia Tech 7-5 (5-3)
Projection: Music City Bowl
The Ramblin' Wreck came out with guns blazing this week. Almost immediately, they connected on a rare deep ball setting up a 1st and goal. They converted for a touchdown making them 29/29 in goal-to-go situations (that's scoring a TD, not just points). They built up a 17-point first quarter lead and would extend it to 20 late in the second quarter. Of course, Tech would do what they always do, lose to Georgia. The Bulldogs stormed back and ruined what would have been a nice ending to an otherwise pedestrian season for GT with a double OT truimph in a mostly pro-Dawg Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Had Boston College beat Syracuse, GT likely would've fallen all the way down to the Advocate V100 Bowl, however Syracuse won that game, so GT has a decent shot at the Music City Bowl so long as UGA isn't selected as the SEC representative.
6. Virginia Tech 8-4 (5-3)
Projection: Sun Bowl
Only beating UVA by 10 is practically a loss, however they beat both GT and UNC earlier in the season when they were playing good football, and although they lost to Boston College, they'll finish with a better ACC record. That should be enough to get them to the Sun Bowl as the fourth best ACC team outside of the BCS.
VT should not be losing games to Boston College or Maryland and have some work to do to straighten things out. To make matters worse, Defensive Coordinator, Bud Foster, is getting some attention for head coaching vacancies around the country. He is reportedly a candidate at UConn, a program that would be lucky to get a coach of his caliber. The Hokies could be with two new coordinators next season if Foster chooses to leave and they decide to find a new offensive coordinator.
7. North Carolina 6-6 (4-4)
Projection: Belk Bowl
When UNC was sitting at 1-5, I said they'd win-out. They almost pulled it off, failing in their final game of the season to Duke. They did well enough to reach bowl eligibility though. They finish at .500 both overall and in conference play. That's far from a successful season, but from four games below .500 it's not a terrible place to finish. Nobody expected much more than a Belk Bowl berth anyway.
I'm thankful for the Duke victory simply because it clears up projections rather nicely. Had Duke lost, it would have left me to do little more than guessing. With Wake Forest and NC State falling short of six wins and Duke headed to a bigger and better postseason, the Belk Bowl would be hard pressed to pass on the in-state Tar Heels.
8. Boston College 7-5 (4-4)
Projection: Advocare V100 Bowl
Syracuse hadn't scored four touchdowns all season until Boston College surrendered 34 in a disappointing loss that dropped them to .500 in conference play. In their defense, Andre Williams got banged up and left the game. It may be enough to drop him out of Heisman contention, though his 2,073 rushing yards remains exceptional.
They'll likely take a step back next season as both he, QB Chase Rettig, and star WR Alex Amidon all depart. Nevertheless, Steve Addazio has done a phenomenal job and we should expect a future of competitive teams (that get completely shafted in the bowl selection process due to distance/fan support) out of Chestnut Hill. They should be a lock for a bowl bid, and I hear Shreveport is lovely this time of year. If the Music City Bowl selects UGA, they could luck out and jump Georgia Tech to play in Nashville instead.
9. Maryland 7-5 (3-5)
Projection: Military Bowl
Last week we said Raleigh was were team go to get cheap road wins. Maryland proved that to be true as they won a game which may be the difference between bowl bid and no bowl bid. Given this is their last year in the conference, they are just a short train ride from DC, and they ended the season on a high note, the Military Bowl is a likely destination.
10. Pittsburgh 6-6 (3-5)
Projection: Little Ceasars Bowl
Here's where things get interesting. Pittsburgh lost on Friday to Miami. They finish with the worst ACC record of all bowl-eligible ACC teams (tied with Maryland). If the Military Bowl doesn't select Pittsburgh, they'll need Swofford to work out a deal with a bowl that does not have a current bowl tie-in with the ACC. They have a worse conference record than Syracuse, however they beat the Orange (gender neutral) head-to-head. Given Pittsburgh's proximity to Detroit (< 5hr by car), they have a decent chance to be selected over Syracuse for the Little Ceasars Bowl, which the B1G was unable to fill.
No (Bowl of) Soup for You
11. Syracuse 6-6 (4-4)
Projection: No Bowl Game
Syracuse finished .500 in the ACC, but because of a poor start that included two non-conference wins, they are at risk of not receiving a bowl bid. They'll need an opening outside of the conference's current bowl line-up. The Pinstripe Bowl may come with an offer to fill the spot the Big 12 was unable to use unless Notre Dame takes it from them, however a Notre Dame selection seems likely. The Little Ceasars Bowl is a possibility as is the Poinsettia, however those are far from locks. Two weeks ago we said the Syracuse v. Pitt matchup would likely decide which team receives a bowl bid. Syracuse lost that game (at home), and now they could be left out. It's a shame... that more .500 football teams don't get left out of bowl games.
12. Wake Forest 4-7 (2-6)
Up Next: Regression and apathy
They held a four-point lead in the fourth quarter, but couldn't hold on as Vanderbilt chipped in two fourth quarter field goals to win the game. Jim Grobe is now 77-82 as the Demon Deacon head man. They've posted five straight losing seasons. This team should only be worse next year as their best players are not returning. Their basketball team seems better this year, so there's that.
13. Virginia 2-9 (0-8)
Up Next: Plug in five-stars and pray
They only lost by 10 to the rival Hokies this week and have been less embarrassing as of late. They have one less win than NC State, but played a much harder schedule that included Oregon and BYU.
They've got two five-star defensive recruits coming in next year and should be vastly improved. It will be interesting to see if Mike London is retained. We've debated it on here before. With over $11 million invested in his staff and the recruiting class they have coming in, I don't think they should or will fire him. We've have some differing opinions here on staff though, so feel free to discuss in the comments below.
14. NC State 3-9 (0-8)
Up Next: A more honest slogan to replace "THIS IS OUR STATE"
Everyone understood this would be a rebuilding year for Dave Doeren's squad, but with their soft schedule they should have tallied more than three wins. Syracuse, ECU, and Maryland are home games many expected to be wins back in the preseason. As was the loss in Winston-Salem which came when they were favored and playing a reeling Wake Forest team. The Pack lost to four different schools in North Carolina. Their best game of the season was a loss to Clemson. They may be worse than UVA.
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With that, we're done with Power Rankings for the year. Next year, we'll include Notre Dame in the rankings each week as they add a little intrigue and share the ACC's non-BCS bowl line-up.