Syracuse’s loss to Notre Dame will likely leave the ACC with only one team in a major bowl game this season.
The only way to avoid a second team being left out of one of the “New Year’s Six” bowls is for Pittsburgh to shock Clemson in the ACC title game on Dec. 1 in Charlotte. That’s not a trade the ACC wants to make.
The ACC’s top bowl, outside of the CFP structure, is the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 28.
Notre Dame, win or lose in its finale with Southern California, will be in a New Year’s Six bowl game. Remember, as a trade off for playing five ACC games each year, the Fighting Irish get a spot in the ACC bowl order.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
At No. 3 in the CFP, and unbeaten (11-0) on the season, the Irish are ticketed for a CFP berth. They won’t be a factor in the league’s bowl process this season.
The Camping World gets its choice, based on its own criteria (ticket sales, TV appeal), of the qualified teams after the ACC champion. Syracuse’s loss to Notre Dame opens the door for N.C. State to play a Big 12 foe in Orlando.
N.C. State (7-3) would be the likely choice if it can beat UNC and East Carolina to close the regular season. The Wolfpack last played in Orlando in 2010. That was memorable for the win over West Virginia but also because it was Russell Wilson’s last game with the Wolfpack.
To review the ACC bowl rules, the Camping World can’t take a 7-win team over a 9-win, but it can take an 8-win team over a 9-win team. The head-to-head result or conference finish have no bearing on the selection process.
The “Tier I” games will divvy up the next four ACC bowl spots. The same “one-win rule” applies. The teams eligible for the Tier I pool will be filled into slots in the Belk Bowl (Charlotte), Pinstripe Bowl (New York) and Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas).
The Music City (Nashville) and Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, Fla.) have an agreement to take an ACC team three times over a six-year period. The Music City is expected to take an ACC team this season.
Virginia (7-4) is the preferred choice in Charlotte for the Belk Bowl on Dec. 29. The Cavaliers would be more attractive with a win over Virginia Tech on Friday.
Syracuse (8-3) just played in Yankee Stadium but is the preferred choice in New York for the Pinstripe Bowl. The homestate Orange will be making their first bowl appearance in five years.
Boston College (7-4) to the Sun and Pittsburgh (7-4) to the Music City are the other probable combinations, although if Pitt loses its last two games (at Miami, vs. Clemson) that could change.
In Tier II, Duke (7-4) would be the choice of the Military Bowl on Dec. 31 -- if Virginia Tech (4-6) does not extend its bowl streak to 26 years.
That leaves Georgia Tech (7-4) and Miami (6-5) to fill spots in Shreveport, La. (Independence Bowl) and Detroit (Quick Lane).
If Wake Forest (5-6) or Florida State (5-6) win on Saturday, the Heart of Dallas Bowl would be a landing spot. The ACC also has a deal with the Birmingham Bowl.
On to the “Only* ACC Power Rankings That Matter:”
Record: 11-0 (8-0 ACC)
Last game: vs. Duke (W, 35-6)
Next game: Saturday, vs. South Carolina
Remember when Dabo Swinney couldn’t beat South Carolina? Crazy but true.
Record: 7-4 (6-1 ACC)
Last game: at Wake Forest (W, 34-13)
Next game: Saturday, at Miami
Tip of the cap to the Panthers. They took a punch out of the league and learned from it.
Record: 8-3 (5-2 ACC)
Last game: vs. Notre Dame (L, 36-3)
Next game: Saturday, at Boston College
Poor showing against Notre Dame doesn’t diminish the Orange’s breakthrough season. Now can they hang to Dino Babers?
4. N.C. State
Record: 7-3 (4-3 ACC)
Last game: at Louisville (W, 52-10)
Next game: Saturday, at UNC
The Wolfpack has won 11 straight games that have started during the noon hour (including a 5-0 mark this season). The UNC game starts at 12:20 p.m. and the ECU game on Dec. 1 starts at noon.
5. Georgia Tech
Record: 7-4 (5-3 ACC)
Last game: vs. Virginia (W, 30-27, OT)
Next game: Saturday, at Georgia
Paul Johnson has a way of pulling it out of the fire. The Jackets are 6-1 since a 1-3 start.
6. Boston College
Record: 7-4 (4-3 ACC)
Last game: at Florida State (L, 22-21)
Next game: Saturday, vs. Syracuse
Here’s what I wrote about the Eagles in the preseason: “Steve Addazio is hoping the ceiling is higher, with such an experienced group, but the schedule — after the first month — is not conducive to much more than eight wins.”
Record: 7-4 (3-4 ACC)
Last game: at Clemson (L, 35-6)
Next game: Saturday, vs. Wake Forest
Duke’s nonconference work was better than its in-conference work.
Record: 7-4 (4-3 ACC)
Last game: at Georgia Tech (L, 30-27, OT)
Next game: Friday, at Virginia Tech
Now or never, Wahoos.
Record: 6-5 (3-4 ACC)
Last game: at Virginia Tech (W, 38-14)
Next game: Saturday, vs. Pittsburgh
Going into last year’s ACC finale with Pitt, Miami had a 7-0 conference record. The Canes are 3-6 in ACC games since.
10. Virginia Tech
Record: 4-6 (3-4 ACC)
Last game: vs. Miami (L, 38-14)
Next game: Friday, vs. Virginia
A 25-year bowl streak and a 14-year winning streak against Virginia both on the line on Friday.
11. Florida State
Record: 5-6 (3-5 ACC)
Last game: vs. Boston College (W, 22-21)
Next game: Saturday, vs. Florida
The Seminoles poured it out to beat Boston College. Can they re-up for their rivals?
12. Wake Forest
Record: 5-6 (2-5 ACC)
Last game: vs. Pittsburgh (L, 34-13)
Next game: Saturday, at Duke
Bowl or bust in Durham for the Deacs. Is the exact spot Duke was in last year (and won).
Record: 2-8 (1-6 ACC)
Last game: vs. Western Carolina (W, 49-26)
Next game: Saturday, vs. N.C. State
The Tar Heels have lost three straight to N.C. State in Chapel Hill only twice before (1956-58 and four from 1986-92).
Record: 2-9 (0-8 ACC)
Last game: vs. N.C. State (L, 52-10)
Next game: Saturday, vs. Kentucky
In 2016, Louisville outscored N.C. State, Syracuse, Florida State, Wake Forest and Boston College by a total of 195 points and went 5-0 in those games.
In 2018, Louisville was outscored by N.C. State, Syracuse, Florida State, Wake Forest and Boston College by a total of 116 points and went 0-5 in those games.