People are always saying that having a plan and not trying to do things last-minute benefits you down the road. Well, in the case of playing in a conference title game that rings true for the ACC because over in Big 10 country they may not have their best team in Ohio State eligible to play in their title game due to so many canceled games.
I bring that up because Georgia Tech will benefit from the ACC building in empty weeks to make up postponed games. Pitt was moved to the Thursday before graduation on December 10th but shouldn’t see any other hurdles get in the way. Miami is scheduled for the date of the ACC Championship, but there is a caveat in place for that game. The game will only be played if the result doesn’t change the standings for first and second place. There is still a remote possibility of that being the case. Notre Dame would need to drop two to fall below Miami but with Syracuse and Wake remaining that is probably a longshot. Clemson owns the tiebreaker over Miami but currently sits with one loss to Notre Dame. The Tigers have VT up next week but their game with FSU hasn’t been rescheduled though the week of the 12th is open for both teams. If an upset did occur Tech would likely finish out the season with only NC State and Pitt.
Why is that important in a season where the team isn’t in contention for a bowl? The answer is they may well be invited to one with another win or two. COVID has caused all sorts of havoc on schedules so there isn’t a hard number of wins that you need to be eligible. Having the Pinstripe Bowl cancel this week took an ACC bowl out of the equation but the Yellow Jackets could finish 2-1 for a 5-5 conference record.
With the win last night Tech has already ensured it won’t finish worse than 11th with FSU, Duke, Syracuse, and Louisville locked in beneath them. A win versus Pitt would give them a tie over a team sitting just a win away. Beating NC State wouldn’t move them ahead of the Wolf Pack but securing a 5-5 record could land Tech around 7th or 8th with VT, Wake, and Virginia still playing some tough games. Which would be a marked improvement over last year’s finish.
Eight bowls are remaining with ACC ties that don’t include the playoff games. It is safe to assume Notre Dame or Clemson will claim one and possibly two if things fall in place. You’ll also have to consider other bowls who will have tie-ins to the likes of the Pac-12 and Big 10 who won’t fill out their slots. It could lead to some intriguing matchups we may not get to see often for Tech come the holidays.
- Notre Dame - The Irish had a tough test with UNC this week but managed to pull away in the end behind a good day from running back Kyren Williams. They need one more win to punch their ticket for the ACC Championship Game. I’d start making plans with Syracuse and Wake Forest left.
- Clemson - It’s been five weeks since Trevor Lawrence last threw a pass in a game. He made up for it by throwing for 403 yards against Pitt. Pitt’s Kenny Pickett assisted the Tigers in tossing them the ball four times. Clemson plays VT next week and a victory would all but seal a chance for revenge against the Irish.
- Miami - The Hurricanes have been on hiatus due to contact tracing from COVID. They still hold a solid grasp on third in the conference standings. They aren’t scheduled to play next week but the ACC could move things around to accommodate another rash of postponements.
- Boston College - The Eagles had a close game with one of the weaker teams but did so without QB Jurkovec later in the game due to injury. Before he left, BC had a sizeable lead on Louisville. They get a bump as well for having respectable losses to both Notre Dame and Clemson.
- North Carolina - It wasn’t a bad loss to the Irish but the offense was smothered with 6 sacks on the day. All that’s left for UNC is an FCS matchup with Western Carolina and then Miami to close out the season.
- North Carolina St - NC St was very much in danger of blowing this game at the end but Syracuse’s QB had a mental breakdown trying to hurry the offense up in the red zone and spiked the ball on fourth down. The Wolf Pack wrap up their season at home when Georgia Tech comes to play next week.
- Georgia Tech - Am I being a homer after a win over Duke? Looking at the teams left there isn’t much separation but Tech had already had to endure losses to two of the best teams in the nation and BC isn’t playing like a slouch. Tech could realistically finish in the middle of the standings with a win against NC State next week.
- Virginia Tech - The Hokies came out with a bang on the season but their defense has allowed points to come in bunches the last few games. A date with Clemson next week may see this once-promising season end with a thud.
- Wake Forest - It has been a while since the Demon Deacons lost to UNC and it could be two more weeks until they get to play again. A month’s layoff won’t be much help against Notre Dame though but Louisville could be a win to cap off the season.
- Pittsburgh - This is the hottest and cold team to ever grace the chaos of the Coastal. Sure, Clemson smacks most of their opponents around but this team has regressed since the start of the season and they may be due to competition. They’ll have a week off before coming to Atlanta to take on the Jackets.
- Virginia - The Hoos have had a lot of bad luck with other teams having to postpone this season. They do have a good win over UNC but Duke and Louisville are their only other ACC wins. The defense has been sketchy for most of the season and BC and VT aren’t two teams you want to deal with at the end with a bad defense.
- Louisville- The Cards at least have an offense to keep them in games on occasion but will sit for the next weeks until facing off with Wake Forest. A win would keep them from falling to the bottom but Wake has been pretty decent in scoring.
- Florida State - Unless the ACC reschedules more games than the Seminoles only have Duke left to gain any good feeling about this season. Fortunately for FSU, Duke is also ranked...
- Duke - GT and UNC both scored 56 points on Duke in its last two games. Couple that with an offense that turned the ball over five times against the Jackets then you get the bottom of the barrel.
- Syracuse - With only a final game against Notre Dame you can pencil this team in for dead last in the conference. It’s still painful their lone win came against Georgia Tech but hopefully such losses will be remembered as byproducts of a transition going forward.