In order for the ACC to maximize its bowl revenue, the conference is in the position of having to root for Clemson to win ... and then lose.
The ACC's best shot at getting two teams in a BCS bowl in the same year for the first time is for Clemson, No. 5 this week in the BCS rankings, to finish 12-0 and then lose in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte on Dec. 3.
That would put the Coastal Division winner, likely Virginia Tech (12th in the BCS rankings this week), in the Orange Bowl. It would also line up the Tigers for an at-large spot in the Sugar Bowl, opposite the SEC runner-up.
The league is guaranteed a $22 million cut of the BCS pie regardless, but it would get another $6 million if a second team were to join the BCS party. Despite being one of the primary reasons for expansion in 2004, the league has yet to put two teams in the BCS in the same year. With their ticket-selling power and TV appeal, the SEC and Big Ten conferences have owned the available at-large BCS spots, and there's no guarantee that the Sugar Bowl wouldn't select Wisconsin, instead of Clemson.
Still, the league would rather Clemson run the table and perform the necessary computer gymnastics to punch a ticket to New Orleans for the BCS title game on Jan. 9. The Tigers' national title odds increased greatly with losses by Oklahoma and Wisconsin last week. No. 3 Oklahoma State would have to lose - and with four tough conference games left, including a Dec. 3 date with No. 9 Oklahoma - that's not a pie-in-the-sky proposition.
The Tigers should jump No. 4 Boise State, even without a loss by the Broncos, by virtue of potential wins over the Hokies and No. 13 South Carolina.
The question is whether they can hold off No. 6 Stanford, which is .0116 percentage points behind the Tigers in this week's rankings. Stanford would get a bump from a potential win over No. 7 Oregon, but it's unclear how big. Such are the whims of the BCS computers (and human voters).
The rest of the ACC's bowl picture is cloudy, as it should be in the last week of October. The league has nine bowl tie-ins, but it might come up two teams short.
Three teams are already bowl eligible (Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech) with two more needing one win (North Carolina and Wake Forest). There are four, four-win teams, but only Florida State and Miami look like a lock for bowl eligibility.
That's seven seats at a nine-top table. N.C. State (4-3) and Virginia (4-3) both have issues going forward , whereas the other three teams need Christmas miracles to be playing after Christmas.
An early look at the ACC's bowl hopes:
Remaining games: at Georgia Tech, Wake, at N.C. State, at South Carolina
Bowl outlook: The Tigers' BCS title hopes hinge on winning out (which is no gimme), Oklahoma State losing (pretty good odds) and some complicated computer help. Their consolation prizes include the Orange, an outside shot at the Sugar and, at worst, the Chick-fil-A.
Virginia Tech (7-1)
Remaining games: at Duke, at GT, UNC, at UVa
Bowl outlook: Unless the wheels completely fall off, the Hokies are going to finish no worse than 10-2 and win the Coastal Division. If they lose the ACC title game the Chick-fil-A bowl awaits. Another ACC title puts them in the Orange Bowl for the fourth time in five years.
Georgia Tech (6-2)
Remaining games: Clemson, Virginia Tech, at Duke, Georgia
Bowl outlook: With six wins, the Jackets are already bowl eligible, but given their relative unattractiveness to bowl executives, they need to knock off one and probably even two of the three ranked teams left on their schedule to avoid a return trip to the Independence Bowl.
Wake Forest (5-2)
Remaining games: at UNC, Notre Dame, at Clemson, Maryland, Vanderbilt
Bowl outlook: The next three games will be tough for a much-improved and overachieving Wake team. The Deacs still have an outside shot at the Atlantic Division title, but an 8-4 record and trip to the Belk Bowl, a year after going 3-9, would be a nice achievement for coach Jim Grobe.
Remaining games: Wake, at N.C. State, at Virginia Tech, Duke
Bowl outlook: The Tar Heels need to win just once in their final four games to make a fourth straight bowl trip. They could run the table and get to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A bowl, but they're tracking for a trip to the Sun Bowl.
Florida State (4-3)
Remaining games: N.C. State, at Boston College, Miami, UVa, at Florida
Bowl outlook: Don't see the Seminoles losing again and don't see them jumping past the Champs Bowl, for an anticipated matchup with Notre Dame.
Remaining games: UVa, Duke, at FSU, at USF, Boston College
Bowl outlook: The Hurricanes should pull into the barn with eight wins in Al Golden's first season, a solid record given the off-field circumstances, but their modest fan base will likely relegate them to the Music City or Independence bowls.
N.C. State (4-3)
Remaining games: at FSU, UNC, at Boston College, Clemson, Md
Bowl outlook: Since State played two FCS teams, it has to win three more games. The Wolfpack should beat Boston College and Maryland, but the season hinges on the UNC game.
Remaining games: at Miami, at Md, Duke, at FSU, VT
Bowl outlook: With just a little better play-calling, and less quarterback chicanery, the Cavaliers should be able to beat Maryland and Duke, which lines them up for a short trip to DC for the Military Bowl. The wrong combination of either of the above and the Hoos will finish 4-8.
Remaining games: VT, at Miami, at UVa, GT, at UNC
Bowl outlook: The Blue Devils need three more wins for their first bowl trip in 17 years. As much hope as an earlier three-game winning streak provided, any realistic bowl chance was sunk by the Richmond loss in the opener.
Remaining games: Boston College, UVa, Notre Dame, at Wake, at N.C. State
Bowl outlook: On paper, the Terps could win four of the their next five games and get back to a bowl. On paper, the world is flat. The coaching transition to Randy Edsall has escalated to a Defcon 2 disaster at College Park. The disconnect between Friedgen's recruits and the new coach will leave the Terps at no better than 4-8.
Boston College (1-6)
Remaining games: at Md, FSU, N.C. State, at Notre Dame, at Miami
Bowl outlook: Put a stamp on the Eagles' 12-year bowl streak. If pride kicks in, Boston College can win one, maybe two more games, but there's no bowl if they finish 3-9.
Giglio: firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-8938