I'm writing this out of my curiosity on the ACC bowl picture. There are some teams I generally like and dislike, but I wanted to figure out who I should be rooting for/against to maximize Wake's bowl changes (because, of course, my rooting affects these games). There are a lot of moving parts in figuring this out, since most ACC wins are also ACC losses for another team. Although I've been trying to read up on the selection process, I'm still not 100% on it and I'm not sure how to approach this, so I welcome any comments/suggestions/corrections.
The ACC has 8 bowl tie-ins this year; since BYU is bowl eligible the ACC won't be getting an invite to the (formerly Kraft) Fight Hunger Bowl.
The following ACC teams are already bowl eligible:
Both VA Tech and Duke will almost certainly end up with 7+ wins (VT plays Virginia, BC, and Maryland while Duke has upcoming matchups with the three other NC teams), so I think these five teams are pretty much locked into bowls even if other teams battle up to 6-6.
That leaves the conference with 3 remaining tie-ins and 9 teams who could (technically) wrangle out bowl eligibility. I've split them into three groups:
These two teams only need one win to make bowl eligibility, and they should get it easily. Georgia Tech has games against Pitt and Alabama A&M, and even games at Clemson and hosting Georgia could be interesting. The Yellow Jackets will hit six wins and likely end up at least 7-5. Edit: As pointed out by ABullard, this total would include 2 wins against FCS opponents, only 1 of which can be counted for bowl eligibility purposes. See the comments for more discussion on whether Georgia is as safe as I initially thought.
Maryland has games against Syracuse, VA Tech, BC, and NC State. Even with their depleted roster, they will get another win and, like Georgia Tech, have a real shot at ending up 7-5.
Maybe next year?
I'll go ahead and stake out the bold claim that Virginia will not end up bowl-eligible. They need to win out to hit 6-6, and the tail end of their season is a brutal stretch that includes games against Clemson, Miami, and Virginia Tech.
This takes us to the critical group; our competition for what will likely be the final ACC tie-in. If any of these teams besides us hit 7-5, we'll be in real trouble. Even battling for a 6-6 invite will be tricky considering TV revenue concerns.
Interestingly, UNC is still a very threatening contender even at 2-5. They need four wins and have five winnable games (NC State, Virginia, Pitt, Old Dominion, and Duke).
We have one of the better records among the "contenders." The bad news is that we still have to host Florida State and travel to Vandy. Our final four games are:
@ Syracuse (3-4)
vs. Florida State (7-0)
vs. Duke (6-2)
@ Vanderbilt (4-4)
I'm not going to discuss the Florida State game, although hopefully we'll be competitive like we were against Miami. According to the Sagarin ratings, we're currently underdogs in the remaining three games. We have to win two to crack bowl eligibility, and I think most of us have been counting on the 'Cuse and Duke games to get us there (Wake is currently 3 and 2 point Sagarin underdogs, respectively). The Vandy game is also winnable and important: if Wake loses to Syracuse or Duke it'll be our only hope to hit 6-6, and even if Wake wins those two games it'll be an opportunity to really improve bowl chances by hitting 7-5.
If Wake goes 5-7, we clearly won't go bowling. If we go 7-5, we'll have a great chance to go bowling. Given that, I'm going to focus on what happens if we go 6-6 (which I also happen to think is the most likely eligibility scenario). Given the 3 remaining tie-ins, we want to be among the top 3 remaining ACC teams. If you believe, as I do, that GA Tech and Maryland will both hit 6-6 and have a good chance at 7-5, we need to hope other teams fall short of 6-6.
Next week's ACC games (note: Duke and Maryland have byes):
Wake @ Syracuse: This goes without saying, #GoDeacs
VA Tech @ BC: VA Tech is going bowling, while BC sits at 3-4. BC has five games to get three wins, and the competition isn't particularly stiff after VA Tech. We want VA Tech to win and force BC to win 3 of 4 to hit 6-6. BC already beat Wake, so I wouldn't want to be competing for a bowl invite if we both end up 6-6. A reluctant #GoHokies.
UNC @ NC State: It's tough to know what's best for Wake here. Both of these teams should be competitive in all of their remaining games. I suppose a UNC win would be best, so each team would have to win 3 of their last 4 to hit 6-6. An unsure #GoHeels?
Clemson @ Virginia: Neither of these teams should play directly into Wake's bowl picture (one being safely in and the other being rather safely out). Maybe Virginia will pull off the upset and then face North Carolina with renewed passion, or something.
Pitt @ GA Tech: GT needs one more non-FCS win to hit eligibility (with games against Pitt, Alabama A&M, Clemson, and Georgia), while Pitt has five games to earn two wins. Pitt's schedule isn't a cakewalk, though. If Pitt loses at Tech, they will need to pull two wins from Notre Dame, UNC, Syracuse, and Miami. If we only want one of these two teams to take a tie-in, then we either need GT to win and Pitt to lose 3 of its last 4, or we need Pitt to win and GT to lose its Clemson and Georgia games. Which is more likely? I initially suggested rooting for GT, but after more thought I'm leaning Pitt. If Pitt wins, it's even possible that neither team will go bowling; that would require Pitt to lose out, which I don't think would happen. Still, I think it may be harder for GT to get a win against Clemson and Georgia than it would be for Pitt to get two wins in its remaining four games. #GoPanthers?
Miami @ Florida State: This is another one that probably doesn't directly figure into Wake's bowl picture. I'll note, however, that Wake will host Florida State the following week. I'm not counting on a win, but I do hope for a watchable game. What do you think, would you rather face a potentially overconfident 8-0 Florida State, or a potentially demoralized 7-1 Florida State?
That's all I really got. This is something that will have to updated week-by-week, as the picture gets clearer. Let me know what I overlooked, what else would be helpful to make the post informative/clear, etc.