Monday, November 2, 2009

Bowl outlook good for UNC-Duke winner, ECU

The ACC has nine bowl tie-ins and three bowl-eligible teams (Georgia Tech, Miami, Boston College).

With a win this week, Clemson (5-3) and Virginia Tech (5-3) can push the total to five.

Maryland, Virginia and N.C. State are all but mathematically eliminated, leaving a group of four (UNC, Duke, Wake and FSU) for the final four spots.

If the ACC doesn't have nine eligible teams, the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala. (Jan. 6) would be the first to drop off the list, followed by the EagleBank Bowl in Washington (Dec. 29).

You figure FSU (4-4) and either Duke or UNC (both 5-3) will push the ACC's total to a minimum of seven teams.

Of the in-state teams, ECU (5-3) is the closest thing to a sure bet but here's the bowl outlook for all five teams as we begin the final month of the season:

Duke
Record: 5-3
Need: Two wins
What's left: @ UNC, GT, @ Miami, Wake

Outlook: 50-50. The Blue Devils have already won two must-win games (Maryland, Virginia) and have two left (UNC, Wake).

Typically teams like Duke, with a one-dimensional offense and a forgiving defense, will not sweep a set of four must-win games, more likely they will split them. That could still happen to the Devils but, at this point, you have to like their chances at 7-5.

UNC has always been their "Super Bowl" and the past three games against Wake have been decided by 1, 5 and 3 points, respectively.

Effectively, it's a two-game season against the two teams Duke plays the best against. If you're coach David Cutcliffe, you take those odds and run ... or in his case, throw a "smoke" pass.

UNC
Record: 5-3
Need: Two wins
What's left: Duke, Miami, @ BC, @ State

Outlook: Good. In upsetting Virginia Tech, UNC got back the home loss it gave away to Virginia. In terms of games the Heels were "supposed" to win and "supposed" lose, they're now even thanks to Thursday's 20-17 shocker in Blacksburg.

If the Heels can break even the rest of the way, in four winnable games, then they'll be bowling. The easiest route is obviously beating Duke and State.

Even if they lose to Duke, they're not cooked, and considering how they've gone about the first five wins, it would be fitting for this team to get to seven the hard way.

East Carolina
Record: 5-3
Need: One win
What's left: VT, @ Tulsa, UAB, Southern Miss

Outlook: Good. The Pirates essentially need to beat UAB (3-5) at home to qualify for their fourth straight bowl game. That's not asking a lot, UAB's 3-22 on the road since 2006.

The Pirates would likely repeat as C-USA East champs with home wins over UAB and Southern Miss, which would earn them a date, and beatdown, at Houston. The key is not to get sidetracked by probable losses to VT and Tulsa.

Wake Forest
Record: 4-5
Need: Two wins
What's left: @ GT, FSU, @ Duke

Outlook: Bleak. The Deacs' bowl trip likely slipped through the hands of Devon Brown in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 28-27 home loss to Miami. Without the upset of the Canes — and they led 27-14 in the fourth quarter before Brown's fumbled punt sparked Miami's comeback — the Deacs need to win two of their final three.

The Deacs lost 13-10 at Navy, which plays the same offense as GT, only the Jackets have more talent. They've won three straight against FSU and nine straight against Duke but with quarterback Riley Skinner's health an issue (he left Saturday's game with a concussion), history is unlikely to repeat itself.

N.C. State
Record: 3-5
Need: Four wins
What's left: Maryland, Clemson, @ VT, UNC

Outlook: Dream is over. The Wolfpack has to run the table to get to a second straight bowl. The 146 points the Wolfpack has allowed in the past three ACC games says State would be lucky to win once in the final four games.

The only thing left for State to play for is its Super Bowl against UNC on Nov. 28.

-- J.P. Giglio

9 comments:

MichaelProcton said...

Duke doesn't need two more wins, Gigs. Only one of their 5 so far came against I-AA competition (unlike the more heralded guys down the road who need to beat up on cupcakes to inflate their win total.)

Anonymous said...

Wrong the team they beat is such a cupcake they aren't even 1-AA. The win doesn't count. They did play a 1-AA club, Richmond, and lost. So....try again.

J said...

Yes, Duke played 2 I-AA teams and only beat one of them. So 6-6 gives them only 5 wins over I-A teams, and thus ineligible for a bowl. You can only get a bowl bid at 6-6 if you play just one I-AA team.

But there is a bigger question here. Exactly how did a conference as pathetic as the ACC get 9 bowl spots anyway?

Anonymous said...

Love how JP calls the UNC game Duke and State's "Super Bowl". Give me a break.

It's a rivalry game, yes. "Super Bowl?" Nobody respects UNC football enough to call it that.

Anonymous said...

J-
Amen - 9 bowl slots maybe the biggest joke since the inception of the BCS. I think you shouldn't get in a bowl game if 1) you don't finish above .500 in your conference (much like the NCAA b-ball btourney) and 2) if you play two FCS (I-AA) teams. I've got to hand it to Duke - at least they played Richmond (and lost) UNC and NC State scheduled weaker FCS teams.

Anonymous said...

Oh for all the "Duke lost to Richmond" trashtalkers...yeah, the defending FCS National Champs haven't lost a game in over a year.

Richmond is (no joke) currently receiving votes in the FBS aka Div I-A AP Top 25 right now.

Anonymous said...

8-0 Richmond would realistically beat half the teams in the weak ACC (UNC/State most definitely included).

Anonymous said...

Not only could Richmond beat half the teams in the weak ACC, so could other FCS notables as Northern Iowa (last second loss to Iowa), Montana, William & Mary (beat UVA), Villanova and McNeese State.

Anonymous said...

Duke needs 7 wins. They played 1 1-aa team and lost. They played 1 team below 1-aa. the win DOES NOT count. look it up.