Nothing’s ever really easy with the ACC’s bowl setup but the postseason implications for Clemson and North Carolina would be, if Clemson wins on Saturday in the ACC championship game.
If UNC wins, chaos would ensue in the national title race and in the ACC bowl order.
Starting with the easiest scenario first, if Clemson wins:
No. 1 in the College Football Playoff selection committee’s rankings, Clemson would stay in the top spot with a win over the Tar Heels and play the No. 4 seed, likely the winner of the Big Ten championship game (Iowa or Michigan State) in the Orange Bowl in Miami on Dec. 31.
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With a loss, UNC, No. 10 in the CFP rankings, would likely drop out of the pool for what are called the “New Year’s 6” bowls.
The Tar Heels would still be in line to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando on Dec. 29 against a Big 12 team, perhaps Baylor or Oklahoma State, which would be an entertaining game.
If UNC beats Clemson:
The Tar Heels would be guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s 6 game as the ACC champion. They would probably play in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on Dec. 31, based on it being closer than the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.
If UNC finished in the top 4 of the final CFP rankings, it would make the playoff and go to the Orange Bowl to face what would likely be No. 1-seeded Alabama.
UNC has to jump No. 7 Stanford and No. 6 Ohio State to get into the top 4. Stanford faces Southern California in the Pac-12 title game on Saturday and UNC likely needs the Cardinal to lose to pass them in the final rankings.
Clemson would likely stay in the top 10 and qualify for an at-large spot in a NY6 game. The Peach or the Fiesta would be the landing spot for a one-loss Clemson team.
A Clemson loss would knock Florida State, No. 10 in the latest rankings, out of a NY6 game and down to Orlando.