Saturday, November 8, 2008

College Football Around the Horn

Let’s take a look around the BCS leagues.

Want a scenario where the ACC still gets two BCS bids? Read on to find out how.


What would you say to Florida St. vs North Carolina, Bobby Bowden vs Butch Davis, one more time, but this time for the ACC title? Since returning to the ACC, Davis has yet to face the Seminoles, and given the rivalry he had with Florida St. when he coached at Miami, this is the one potential ACC title game match-up that I might tune in to watch.

Certainly, it has to be more appealing than Wake Forest beating Georgia Tech 9-6 in the rain in 2006. (There was rain right? Or was it just a horrible game?) And even though a few people liked the 2007 rematch of the Matt Ryan comeback game, Virginia Tech vs Boston College, I think the television rating pretty much spoke for itself. On a day when the SEC and Big 12 title games are going to have huge national title implications, the ACC title game is going to need something special to get people to tune in. And I think a little Butch Davis-Bobby Bowden rivalry might be just what the conference needs.

Still, with six teams with 2 losses in conference play, and three more teams with 3 losses, this game is no lock to happen. Let’s break it down:

Atlantic Division

Maryland (2 losses) – Left: North Carolina, Florida St., Boston College
Wake Forest (2 losses) – Left: NC State, Boston College, NONCONF: Vanderbilt
Florida St. (2 losses) – Left: Boston College, Maryland, NONCONF: Florida
Boston College (3 losses) – Left: Florida St., Wake Forest, Maryland

Tiebreakers: Maryland beat Wake Forest, Wake Forest beat Florida St.

Even after the uninspired loss to Virginia Tech on Thursday night, Maryland controls their own destiny. If they win out, they’ll have beaten Florida St. and they hold the tiebreaker over Wake, so they’ll make the ACC title game. Who would have thought that when they lost to Middle Tennesse St.? Still, Maryland might not be favored in any of the remaining games. That “control your own destiny” thing really only works when you win.

Wake Forest is probably in the poll position. NC State is one of the few bad teams in the ACC this year, and if Wake wins the next two games, they only need Maryland to lose once to ensure another trip to the ACC title game. Still, Wake Forest brings possibly the worst TV ratings of any of the options, so let’s hope not.

Even if Florida St. makes it to the title game, they’ll probably have 3 losses overall, since I think Florida would beat them by 2 TDs right about now. But a 3 loss Florida St. team is still more appealing than Wake Forest.

Boston College also controls their own destiny with games against the top 3 teams in the Atlantic. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

Coastal Division

Virginia Tech (2 losses) – Left: Miami, Duke, Virginia
North Carolina (2 losses) – Left: Maryland, NC State, Duke
Miami (2 losses) – Left: Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, NC State
Georgia Tech (3 losses) – Left: Miami, NONCONF: Georgia
Virginia (3 losses) – Left: Clemson, Virginia Tech

Tiebreakers: Virginia Tech beat North Carolina, North Carolina beat Miami

Also: Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech, North Carolina beat Georgia Tech, Virginia beat North Carolina, Miami beat Virginia

Virginia Tech might not go to a BCS bowl this year, but if you’ve followed the team, it is clear that this is Frank Beamer’s best performance as a coach. His team lost to East Carolina early in the year, and quite frankly looks like it has a lot less talent than some of his ACC competition. And yet two big comebacks over Georgia Tech and North Carolina in September, both 20-17, proved that sometimes an elite coach can find a way to win. Injuries to the top two QBs have hurt the team (although Sean Glennon played admirably on Thursday night), and I don’t see them making it to the ACC title game, but for this team to control its own destiny at this point in the season, is nothing short of remarkable.

If North Carolina can beat Maryland this week, which I believe they will, they should be able to crush NC State and Duke. Then the only thing to do will be to watch whether Virginia Tech loses a game.

Note that the ACC can still get two bids to the BCS. If North Carolina and Virginia Tech win out, and a 2-loss North Carolina does not get an invitation to the ACC title game, North Carolina will probably finish in the top 16 of the BCS. After the 6 auto bids, a bid for a non-BCS team, and the second bid for the Big 12 and SEC, there’s a decent chance that North Carolina will be the most attractive at-large candidate available. I admit it is a long shot, but it could happen.

I’m not sold on Miami winning out yet, but the loss to their former coach will probably prevent them from reaching the ACC title game this year.

Georgia Tech probably blew their opportunity by losing to North Carolina this week, but a win against Georgia might be a way to get back in the conversation for the Chic-fil-a or Gator Bowl.

4-0: Virginia’s record in October
1-5: Virginia’s record in all other months. Enough said.

Final Note on the Coastal: Duke can officially kiss any chance it had of a bowl game away after losing at home to NC State.

More on the other conferences in a bit.