As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth. In the ACC, we'll shake down each division race first then make an insanely premature prediction. Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below.
Atlantic DivisionFlorida State (4-0) (6-1)
N.C. State (2-1) (5-2)
Maryland (2-1) (5-2)
Clemson (2-2) (4-3)
Wake Forest (1-3) (2-5)
Boston College (0-4) (2-5)
Week 9 Preview
Florida State dodged a near upset on their own turf to Boston College, but the Seminoles have had a week and a half to take a look at what went wrong and prepare for Thursday night's primetime showdown against N.C. State in Raleigh. This game is usually a nail biter, with eight of the last nine contests being decided by ten points or less, but N.C. State particularly likes facing a ranked Florida State squad. Two of the last three times Florida State has visited Carter-Finley Stadium while ranked in the Top 25 they have been knocked off by the Wolfpack, and with the division on the line Florida State can count on seeing the best out of their opponent. The Wolfpack are looking to bounce back from a loss to in-state rival East Carolina, but has also had an extra week to tend to their wounds and prepare for Florida State. With a win, the Seminoles could give themselves an extra game of separation from N.C. State and the Clemson, the defending division champs.
Clemson travels to Chestnut Hill to face Boston College, who is still searching for that first conference win. But the Eagles have lost their last two division games by a combined eight points, and will be looking to get over the hump. The Tigers, on the other hand, can not afford any more conference losses if they plan on having a shot to play for the ACC Championship again in 2010. Maryland hosts Wake Forest, a team who's only victories have come against Presbyterian College and a 45-38 shootout at home against Duke. Maryland has had an incredibly favorable conference draw this season, and it will likely lead to a bowl berth. But judging by the talent on the field, the Terrapins are not quite on the same level as Florida State, N.C. State, and Clemson. Still, with an upset of Miami next week the Terrapins could make the title hunt very interesting in the ACC. I predict the Wolfpack to pull off the upset Thursday, but with so many tough conference games left I think even a one-loss Seminole squad will emerge from the Atlantic Division.
Atlantic Division Week 9 Winners - N.C. State, Clemson, Maryland
Atlantic Division Favorite - Florida State
Coastal DivisionVirginia Tech (4-0) (6-2)
Miami (3-1) (5-2)
Georgia Tech (3-2) (5-3)
North Carolina (2-2) (4-3)
Virginia (0-3) (3-4)
Duke (0-4) (1-6)
Week 9 Preview
This weekend is a calm week in the Coastal Division, with Georgia Tech and division leader Virginia Tech both off on Saturday. The only division matchup of the week will feature Miami traveling to Charlottesville to face Virginia. Barring an out-of-character performance from the Cavaliers, the Hurricanes should carve up the weaker Virginia defense and have no trouble picking up their fourth conference victory. It is imperative for the Hurricanes to avoid any slip ups down the stretch in order to set up a potential informal ACC Championship play-in game with Virginia Tech November 20 in Coral Gables. A win over Virginia moves Miami just a half-game behind the Hokies, and even if Virginia Tech continues their undefeated ways Miami could steal the tiebreaker with a head-to-head win. The spoiler in that scenario is Georgia Tech, who could create even more tiebreaker mayhem with wins over both teams in the coming weeks.
Duke and North Carolina both will be playing out-of-conference matchups on the Week 9 slate. The Blue Devils travel to Annapolis to face the Naval Academy, while the Tar Heels will host William & Mary for Homecoming. The Tar Heels are not out of the Coastal Division race, but it is going to take some help for a two-loss team to win the division. Particularly, a two loss team who lacks the head-to-head advantage over Miami and Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels have yet to face Virginia Tech, N.C. State, and still have to travel back to Florida to face the Seminoles. Considering the type of year the Tar Heels have gone through, a postseason berth should feel like a success. But with all the talent that has missed time on the field, Tar Heel fans will still be asking "What if?" for years to come.
Coastal Division Week 9 Winners - Miami, North Carolina
Coastal Division Favorite - Virginia Tech
Insanely Premature ACC Championship Game Prediction - Virginia Tech 20, Florida State 14