With the season over the half way mark, and after having done a piece about which program in the ACC could make it to a bowl game, I figured that it would be appropriate to keep an eye on all the teams in the conference as we head towards the last third of the season. And since it seems that all posts like this need some sort of a catchy name, I give you the “Balling to the Bowls” recap for Week Eight…
A week ago I thought it would be Clemson the program that would be the one representing the Atlantic Coast Conference in the BCS. However, as you can see in my post I then changed my mind, picking Florida State to win against Clemson. What I never thought it would be the lopsided game that it turned out to be, as the Seminoles just seemed to be in a glorified scrimmage more than a Top 5 match up.
Having said all of this, both #3 Florida State (6-0) and #9 Clemson (6-1) are clearly going to be headed to the post season. The only difference now is the the Seminoles seem the favorite to be the flag holder when it comes to the BCS. But do not despair, the Tigers will be going to a good bowl themselves.
Just like in the Atlantic, the Coastal division has a pair of squads with six wins, beginning with #7 Miami (6-0), which moved up four spots after barely squeezing by UNC, and #16 Virginia Tech (6-1), who was off this weekend. Here as well, both squads will be seeing their way to a major bowl game without a doubt.
After the quartet of six win programs the ACC has a pair of teams that have five wins a piece. In the Atlantic it’s departing Maryland (5-2) and in the Coastal it’s surprising Duke (5-2).
For the Terps, who are 1-2 in conference play after being upset by Wake Forest, the remaining of the schedule has two ranked teams in #9 Clemson and #16 VA Tech, but also includes Boston College and Syracuse, which should easily put the program at seven wins and a ticket to the post season.
For the Blue Devils, who took care of Virginia, the rest of the schedule is made up of a pair of ranked teams in #16 VA Tech and #7 Miami, while also having all three in-state foes, with N.C. State going to Durham, while Wake and UNC will be hosting them. While it should not be surprising to see Duke find a sixth win, it would also not be shocking if the lost all of the next five games.
With six school done, five seemingly in a bowl as of right now, while Duke being iffy, let’s look at the three teams that have four victories on the year… Atlantic’s Wake Forest (4-3) and Coastal’s Georgia Tech (4-3) and Pittsburgh (4-2).
For Wake Forest, which surprised Maryland this weekend, it’s five games left, which include both of the sunshine state Top 10 squads, #7 Miami and #3 FSU, to go with Syracuse, Duke and out of conference Vanderbilt. It would make sense that both the ranked teams should be losses for the Demon Deacons, and the game versus the SEC squad could likely be a loss as well. So it all comes down to Wake beating SU and Duke, and then seeing if six wins is enough to go to a bowl game.
Georgia Tech, who annihilated SU this Saturday, also has five games left on the season, but a lot easier remaining slate, having to face just one ranked squad in #9 Clemson, to go along with Virginia, Pittsburgh, Alabama A&M and Georgia. Both Clemson and Georgia should be a loss for GA Tech, but I do not see much of a problem for the Jackets to get 2 wins from the other three games. This would give the program six wins and then they too will wait to see if it’s enough. With 2 FCS schools (Elon and Alabama A&M) on their schedule the Jackets may need a 7th win.
Lastly on this level is new arrival Pittsburgh, victorious this weekend against Old Dominion, who has six games left in the schedule. Of those just one is a match up against ranked opponent, in #7 Miami, while another is against a non conference opponent, in Navy, with the other four being semi ACC foe Notre Dame, and full members GA Tech, UNC and SU. I would be hard pressed to say I see Pitt getting to not reach six wins this season, but if the Panthers can keep playing decently I could also see them winning more.
The rest of the teams in the conference are Boston College (3-3), Syracuse (3-4), N.C. State (3-3), Virginia (2-5) and UNC (1-5).
Boston College has #16 VA Tech as the only ranked opponent on the slate. They have UNC, non conference winless opponent New Mexico St, N.C. State, Maryland and SU. With four of those games on the road and VT at home, the Eagles could find three wins out of six games, but the likelihood is that they will not, as I see them winning against NM St and maybe SU and then four losses.
Syracuse still has #3 FSU on the schedule, as well as Wake Forest, Maryland, Pittsburgh and BC. To say that this program might get one more win going forward would not be much of a stretch. And even if they were to find a second W somewhere, I do not see anyway they could find a third one from the five games left.
North Carolina State has a half dozen games left, and just like SU they will have #3 FSU to play. The other five games will include three games in the state, with UNC, Duke and out of conference East Carolina, as well as BC and Maryland. To find three wins in these six games is not too hard, as long as the Wolfpack play a bit better than they did when it lost to SU. If they play like that game then finding three W’s is going to be a lot harder.
With five games left and just two wins, Virginia‘s post season dreams were smashed a while back. But to make sure that no one thinks of a back half come back, UVA will face #9 Clemson, #7 Miami and #16 VT (missing out only on #3 FSU), as well as GT and UNC. With that schedule it could not be left out that the Cavaliers will finish with just two wins on the season.
And finally, it’s North Carolina, who lost a heartbreaker this past Thursday to #6 Miami, and now has six games left. One good thing is that the Heels do not have a ranked squad in the remaining match ups, having to face BC, N.C. State, UVA, Pittsburgh, Old Dominion and Duke. What makes the loss to the `Canes so much worst is that I can see four wins for the Heels in that slate, but I have a much harder time seeing five.
And there you have it, the first installment of “Balling to the Bowls”, which shows…
- Five teams secure for the bowl games
- Four teams on the bubble
- Five teams out of the running