New year, same stuff. FSU handed a golden opportunity to take a firm hold of the ACC Atlantic, misses an easy FG (wide right, of course). This not only opened up the ACC Atlantic, but also puts UNC right in the mix in the Coastal. On to the permutations of this clusterfuck, with 4 teams still alive in each half.
Florida State 4-2
North Carolina State 3-2
Florida State – Clemson, @ Maryland
Maryland – @Virginia, Florida State, NC State
NC State – Wake Forest, @North Carolina, @Maryland
Clemson – @Florida State, @ Wake Forest
- Clemson – they are somehow still alive at 3-3. And it won’t even take a miracle. If they win out and get to 5-3, it will put them ahead of FSU and the loser of the Maryland-NC State game, automatically (they have already defeated NC State and Maryland, and own the tiebreakers). If they can win out, all they need is the winner of the NC State-Maryland game to lose another game. And, with Maryland playing Florida State and NC State playing at North Carolina, that is possible.
- Florida State – went from in complete control with their 2 chief rivals (Maryland and NC State) losing to creating a giant mess for themselves. They simply had to kick an oblong ball through a giant “H”, but couldn’t manage it. Now, they have to win out and hope NC State doesn’t. A loss to Clemson or Maryland will all but bury them (requiring multiple losses across the board). They already lost the tiebreaker to NC State, and if they lose another game, they will lose the tiebreaker to that team as well. Losing to Clemson on Saturday would require Clemson to lose to Wake Forest, losing to Maryland in 2 weeks would require Maryland to lose to both Virginia and NC State, and then have NC State lose to NC and Wake Forest. Suffice to say FSU must win out. If they win out, they will finish ahead of Maryland and Clemson. That will mean they will need an NC State loss to win the Atlantic. Certainly possible.
- NC State – Still controls their own destiny since they play Maryland and have the tiebreaker over FSU. If they win out, the worst they will finish is in a head-to-head tie with FSU. They will be cheering for FSU this weekend, though, ironically. If Clemson wins, they look likely to finish 5-3 with all tiebreakers, meaning a loss to anyone by NC State will eliminate them. If FSU wins and loses to Maryland, NC State could lose to UNC and still win the Atlantic (by beating Maryland and Wake Forest).
- Maryland – They also control their own destiny, since they still have NC State and FSU to play. And, like NC State, they are cheering for FSU this weekend. If FSU wins this weekend, NC State can lose to UVA and still control their own destiny.
This week, the mammoth game is the Saturday Night game between Clemson and FSU. Both teams must win to stay alive (unless Clemson wins this game, loses to Wake Forest, and then NC State loses twice). Maryland and NC State are playing easier opponents, but it is the ACC, so nothing is in the bag. They are also the 2 teams that don’t need help. If they both somehow win out, it will set up a showdown on the last weekend of the season.
Virginia Tech 5-0
Virginia Tech – @UNC, @Miami, UVA
Miami – @GT, VT
UNC – VT, NC State, @Duke
GT – Miami, Duke
- Georgia Tech – despite losing last week, they still have a chance, although it would take a miracle. First, they need to win out and have VT lose out. If that happens, the final standings will have GT, Miami and VT all tied at 5-3. The rest depends on UNC. They will have beat VT, so if they beat NC State, they win the Coastal at 6-2 (barring a loss to Duke). But if they lose that, GT actually goes. In a 4-way tiebreaker, GT and Miami would be 2-1 against the other 3 teams, while VT and UNC would be 1-2. Then it goes to head-to-head, with GT would have. In a 3-way tiebreaker, all teams would be 1-1, and then it goes to divisional record, where GT has an advantage (only 1 loss to 2 for Miami and 3 for VT). Of course, this is the longest of long shots, requiring 6 results to work out perfectly for them, but this is the ACC, so every scenario has to be explored.
- North Carolina – 2 weeks ago, I said it would take a miracle for UNC to get back in this thing. Well, it happened. First, then needed an epic fail from one of the teams. They got it when Miami lost to UVA. Then, they needed to beat FSU. Got that when FSU couldn’t make an easy FG. Then, they needed VT to beat GT, and they got it. So, what does it leave now? UNC needs to win out, and needs VT to lose another game (probably at Miami, although UVA is a rivalry game as well). They also would need Miami to lose to GT. In the alternative, if Miami beats GT, then UNC would need VT to actually beat Miami and lose to UVA. Either scenario puts UNC in the ACC Title game. It is still a long shot with several things needing to go right, but much more doable then it was 2 weeks ago. UNC won’t win any tiebreaker where Miami is involved, so they need Miami to finish with 3 losses while VT still picks up 2 losses, making their task difficult.
- Miami – they are in position to hold all the tiebreakers. But they need 2 losses from VT. They can give VT one loss, and hope UNC or UVA gives them another one. A loss to GT all but eliminates them, and a loss to VT does eliminate them.
- Virginia Tech – just don’t lose twice, and they win the Coastal. And even losing twice, they still have a decent shot at it. Clearly in control, but they do have 2 games on the road against the 2 teams directly behind them in the standings and a rivalry game, so strange things are possible, and this is the ACC.
This week is huge. It could end with VT clinching the Coastal, Miami and VT essentially playing for the ACC Coastal Title next week (with both teams controlling their own destiny), or UNC taking a huge a step towards the title. There are 2 games involving all 4 teams with Miami playing at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech playing at North Carolina. Here is what everyone wants (other than to win their own game):
- Virginia Tech – Georgia Tech to beat Miami. If that happens, VT will clinch the ACC Coastal with a win over UNC.
- Miami – UNC to beat VT. If that happens, and Miami beats GT, they are back in control of their own destiny, and will play what is essentially an ACC Coastal title game at home against VT.
- North Carolina – Georgia Tech to beat Miami. If that happens and UNC wins, they need to win out and have Miami beat VT next week. That is the most straightforward path to the Coastal title.
- Georgia Tech – North Carolina to beat Virginia Tech. If VT wins, Georgia Tech is eliminated.
The schedule makers definitely smiled on the ACC. With 3 weeks left, there are still 8 teams alive out of 12, and those teams 6 of those teams are playing each other this weekend.