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How Wake Forest Wins the Atlantic

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A quick look at the scenarios for Wake to make it to the ACC Championship Game

NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There are just three regular season games remaining for the Wake Forest Football team, and all three could have large implications on the race to win the Atlantic Division. The Deacs are currently undefeated in conference play and have a real shot to win the division—the race has come down to Wake Forest (5-0), NC State (4-1) and Clemson (5-2). Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios that would see Wake playing in the ACC Championship Game. Feel free to drop a comment if I got something wrong or missed a scenario.

Wake wins out. Obviously, Wake Forest controls their own destiny since they have not lost a game in the conference yet. If the Deacs finish the remaining three games of the season 3-0, they will win the Atlantic Division.

Wake Beats NC State, wins one of Clemson or Boston College. If Wake beats the Wolfpack on Saturday, the Deacs would hand NC State their second conference loss of the season. Wake would then need to win one of their final two games to avoid a tie with Clemson or a three way tie with Clemson and NC State (in the event NC State did not lose another game and all three teams finish 6-2). Because Clemson’s only remaining conference game is Wake Forest, a two way tie between Wake and Clemson could only occur in this scenario if Wake loses to both Clemson and BC (both Wake and Clemson would be 6-2), giving Clemson the tie breaker. The Deacs would also lose a three way tie because their two losses would be against division opponents, whereas Clemson and NC State would have only one loss against Atlantic opponents. That means there is no way for Wake to lose both games after beating NC State and still win the conference.

Wake loses to NC State, beats both Clemson and BC, and NC State loses to UNC or Syracuse. Here’s the reason Saturday’s game is so massive. If the Deacs lose to NC State, they will drop to 5-1 in the conference, tying them with NC State. That game would also give NC State the tie breaker. That means if NC State wins out, they win the division. If, however, the Wolfpack lose one of their remaining two games, Wake could still win the division by beating both Clemson and Boston College, because Wake would finish 7-1 in the conference while NC State would finish 6-2.

Wake loses to NC State, beats Clemson, and NC State loses both remaining games. If the Deacs lose to the Wolfpack on Saturday, as previously mentioned, NC State gets the tie breaker over Wake Forest. If NC State loses both of their remaining games, finishing the season 5-3 in the conference, Wake Forest would only have to beat Clemson to win the division. Beating the Tigers would hand Clemson their third conference loss of the season, so the Deacs could still lose to Boston College and win the division with one fewer loss than both NC State and Clemson. As previously mentioned, a two way tie with Clemson is only possible if Wake loses to Clemson, so Clemson will always have the tiebreaker over Wake Forest.

The game on Saturday is absolutely massive for Wake Forest because a loss means the Deacs no longer control their own destiny and will need NC State to lose one or both of their remaining games to win the division. It will also mean having to pull for North Carolina, which is just painful. A win means the Deacs are the masters of their own fate, and just have win one of their remaining two games to win the division. Personally, I like the scenario where Wake goes 3-0. Go Deacs!