Nine ACC schools have qualified for bowl games this season. Only North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Georgia Tech out of the Coastal Division, and Syracuse in the Atlantic Division, failed to earn the necessary wins. Florida State will become the 10th ACC school to qualify with a win Saturday over Louisiana-Monroe. Georgia Tech made some efforts to reschedule its cancelled game with UCF, but wasn’t able to work it out. So the 5-6 Yellow Jackets will once again be staying home this winter.
Where are the ACC’s bowl-eligible schools likely to appear in this year’s upcoming postseason?
It’s all set up for two-time defending ACC champion Clemson. The Tigers beat Miami Saturday night in Charlotte, and for the third straight January, Dabo Swinney’s club will be competing for a national title. Clemson’s 12-1 season will ensure, for the fourth straight time, that the ACC is represented in the College Football Playoff, thereby reaping the $6 million financial windfall for the league it so eagerly craves.
While the Pitt loss ruined the scenario of two undefeated ACC schools playing in a de facto national quarterfinal, the Canes are still set up to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game, even with their loss to Clemson.
Not only will Miami play in a New Year’s Six bowl, they’ll probably be doing it at home, as they’ll represent their home city in the Orange Bowl for the first time since 2004.
Two of the more unclear ACC bowl programs as to where they’ll end up is Virginia Tech and Louisville. The Cardinals could end up in the TaxSlayer Bowl, the Pinstripe Bowl, or the Camping World Bowl. The Camping World Bowl has its choice ahead of the TaxSlayer Bowl
While it’s unclear which bowl game they’ll get invited to, Virginia Tech must feel good about its chances of playing in Florida. The likeliest destinations for the Hokies are Jacksonville, and a TaxSlayer Bowl appearance, or Orlando, and a Camping World Bowl appearance. If the Camping World Bowl bases its choice on record, 9-3 Virginia Tech will get the nod over 8-4 Louisville.
NC State is likely headed to the Sun Bowl, and a matchup with a Pac-12 opponent. The Wolfpack fell short in their effort to take down Clemson and win the school’s first Atlantic Division title. But NCSU will head to El Paso riding the momentum of its recent rivalry win over North Carolina, as well as the news that Dave Doeren is staying in Raleigh as head coach.
For the second straight season, Dave Clawson has Wake Forest appearing in a 13th game. After traveling up to Annpolis last year for the Military Bowl, the Demon Deacons are projected to stay in North Carolina this time around. The Demon Deacons are looking like a good fit for the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, and a date with Kentucky, Mississippi State, or another SEC school.
Back in a bowl for the first time since the 2011 season, Virginia seems destined for a Military Bowl matchup in Annapolis. Likely opponents include Navy and USF.
With a resurgent offense and bend-but-don’t-break defense, Boston College returns to the postseason for a fourth time under Steve Addazio. The Eagles are likeliest bets for the Pinstripe Bowl or TaxSlayer Bowl. But given their proximity to New York City, and with no other northeastern ACC school in play, the Pinstripe Bowl is an attrative possibility for the Eagles. BC has appeared in the Pinstripe Bowl once before, dropping an overtime heartbreaker to Penn State back in 2014.
Back in a bowl for the fifth time in six seasons under David Cutcliffe, Duke is projected to play in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. The Blue Devils’ likeliest opponent at Ford Field is a Mid-America Conference opponent such as Central Michigan or Akron.
It’s a stunning position for Florida State to be in. But at 6-6, the Seminoles are one of the lower-rung schools in the ACC’s pecking order this December. As such, FSU may be relegated to play in Shreveport in the Independence Bowl. Southern Miss is a potential opponent for FSU in its first game without former head coach Jimbo Fisher.
ACCSports.com ACC Bowl Projections
Clemson: College Football Playoff
Miami: Orange Bowl
Boston College: Pinstripe Bowl
Duke: Quick Lane Bowl
Florida State: Independence Bowl
Louisville: TaxSlayer Bowl
NC State: Sun Bowl
Virginia: Military Bowl
Virginia Tech: Camping World Bowl
Wake Forest: Belk Bowl