Friday, October 29, 2010

Win gives Pack headstart in Atlantic Division

RALEIGH -- When Christian Ponder’s fumble turned an all-but-certain touchdown into a 28-24 comeback win for N.C. State, that chain of events turned the ACC’s Atlantic Division on its ear.

A win by the Seminoles would have made them 5-0 in the ACC and given them a huge head start on Maryland, the division’s other one-loss team. Instead, the Wolfpack wiggled its way into prime position as one of three teams with one loss (with Clemson lurking at 2-2) and the head-to-head tiebreaker over Florida State.

Assuming Maryland isn’t in it to win it -- and while that may be a foolhardy assumption, that big loss to Clemson and the lack of a marquee ACC win bolsters it for now -- the division title is likely to come down to two games: N.C. State at Clemson on Nov. 6 and Clemson at Florida State on Nov. 13.

It’s more than possible, after Thursday’s game, that a two-loss team represents the Atlantic in the ACC Championship Game on Dec. 4. That’s what Clemson is hoping at this point, anyway. The Wolfpack has a simpler equation: Win out.

That would require three tough road wins -- at Clemson, at North Carolina and at Maryland -- but after Thursday’s win, N.C. State controls its own destiny on the road to Charlotte.

Here are the standings and remaining ACC schedule for the Atlantic Division teams:

Florida State 4-1
N.C. State 3-1
Maryland 2-1
Clemson 2-2
Wake Forest 1-3
Boston College 0-4

Oct. 30

Clemson at Boston College
Wake Forest at Maryland

Nov. 6

N.C. State at Clemson
Maryland at Miami
Boston College at Wake Forest
North Carolina at Florida State

Nov. 13

Boston College at Duke
Clemson at Florida State
Maryland at Virginia
Wake Forest at N.C. State

Nov. 20

Virginia at Boston College
Clemson at Wake Forest
Florida State at Maryland
N.C. State at North Carolina

Nov. 27

N.C. State at Maryland

-- Luke DeCock