Conference Stock Report

October is when we find out which teams are as good as their pre-season rankings and which teams are maybe not what we expected. This is also the month when the contenders rise to the top and everyone else falls back into the pack. That pack, of course, is fighting for bowl position. In this week's edition of the stock report, we take a look at the divisional races and the bowl situation.

Atlantic Division

Clemson: The Tigers are the only team in the ACC that controls their destiny. If they win the rest of their conference games, they go to Tampa for a shot at the title. That is no exactly true as they did lose to Maryland, but no one thinks the Terps win the rest of their games. So, baring an impossible set of circumstances, Clemson wins the division if they win out.

That's not a guarantee by any stretch. Clemson plays Miami this week and there is no reason to think they win that one. They also play Florida State, a tough matchup, and they go on the road to NC State. It is not unrealistic to think they lose all of those games. Given what is going on in the Coastal, Clemson needs to win out if they want to play in a major bowl. Otherwise, they are looking at the Champs Bowl this year.

Boston College: The Eagles may seem like the most unlikely favorite to win the division, but they may be the favorite. They hold the tie-breaker over three division teams and sit tied with Clemson at the top of the division. They do not control their destiny as they need to win their final three conference games and need Clemson to lose another game.

BC has the advantage of schedule. They have one more home game in-conference, North Carolina, and two road games. None of the remaining games are considered tough matchups. Because Clemson has a much tougher schedule, BC could probably afford one loss and still have a chance to win the division at the end of the season. Because it is BC, the bowl scenario is the BCS or whoever is forced to take them. That probably means the Emerald Bowl this year.

Wake Forest: Technically, Wake is tied for first place in the division. The other two teams, however, beat Wake and thus hold the tie-breaker. That means they have to win out and hope that BC and Clemson lose another game. With four tough games left on the schedule, it appears the Deacs are headed for something other than a trip to the title game.

Like BC, they have the burden of a fan base that does not have easy access to recreational vehicles and no connection to a job. That means it is Tampa or one of the southern bowls at the bottom of the list. If they don't go to Tampa, then it is Charlotte, Nashville or DC for the Deacs, with DC the most likely spot.

Florida State: The Seminoles are out of the divisional race as it would require a total melt down by three teams and a mad run of wins to win it. With three conference losses they need to run the table and have BC lose two of their final three. It is possible, but that would mean winning three road games in conference. The reality is FSU is playing for a bowl and nothing more.

To get to a bowl game, they need to win four of their final six and one of those is at Florida. In reality, they have to win four of their next five. That starts with UNC tonight. A loss and the ‘Noles are unlikely to make the post season. A win and they still need to win two of their next three, including two road games. Then they just have to beat Maryland to get into the bowl discussion. 6-and-6 sends them to the bottom of the bowl list, while seven wins probably means a trip to Orlando or even the Gator Bowl.

NC State: The team that some thought had a chance to win the Atlantic is now out of the race. Like Florida State, they need to run the table and have the teams ahead of them collapse in the final six weeks. That's unlikely on two fronts. The teams ahead of them have relatively easy schedules and NC State is not a good enough team to run the table.

The season basically comes down to winning at Florida State next week. After that one, they get Maryland and Clemson at home. A split is possible. They will not win at Virginia Tech. That means they could have a chance to get bowl eligible by beating UNC at home in the finale. That's why their game at Florida State is critical. A loss and they are unlikely to make a bowl this year. A win and they are in the mix for Nashville.

Maryland: Technically, they are still in the hunt for the title. They can run the table and win the division if Wake loses another game. In reality, they have no chance and are unlikely to make a bowl. The Terps have five games left, all in conference. Three of those are on the road and they get VT and BC at home. It will take a miracle for them to win two of those games, much less run the table.

Their bowl prospects are just as bad. With five losses, the Terps can only afford one more loss. Otherwise, they are out. With two road games facing them, the season could be over before the end of the month. With everything that is going on with this program, logic says they are a non-factor the rest of the way.

Coastal Division

Miami: The Canes are the only team in the Coastal that controls its destiny in any way. The tie-breakers in the ACC are a bit murky once you get past head-to-head and divisional records. That's what is happening this year; Miami is tied with VT and GT, each with one loss – to one another. By being higher ranked and possessing the better schedule. Miami could gain a large enough lead in the rankings to break the tie, assuming everyone wins out.

Even if they do not win the tie-breaker, they can make the BCS. If they run the table, Miami is probably a lock for a BCS bid. A national title bid is unlikely, but they have a shot if they run the table. If they do stumble, it is assumed they will be the team the Peach and Gator look to as a marquee team from the ACC this year.

Virginia Tech: Like Miami, the Hokies need to keep winning and everything will work out fine. They have a very manageable schedule, no ranked teams and just two with winning records. If they win out, they probably crack the top-10 and get a BCS bid as an at-large, if they do not go to Tampa for the title game. For that to happen, they need a Georgia Tech loss or to have both Miami and Georgia Tech run the table as well.

Like Miami, Tech has a shot at an at-large bid if they win out. Otherwise, they will fall no further than one of the top two bowls in the league rotation. The Peach and Gator would jump at the chance to have Virginia Tech. That will happen if they do not head to Tampa. Georgia Tech is the only other option and they are not popular with the bowl committees.

Georgia Tech: Like Wake Forest and Boston College, it is BCS or bust for the Yellow Jackets. Their big win over the Hokies last week has them tied for the Coastal. They have the short straw in the three-way tie-breaker, as they lost to Miami, the highest ranked team in the division. If you look at the rules, a large enough gap in the polls between Miami and VT could result in Georgia Tech getting squeezed out of the mix.

Outside of going to the title game and maybe the BCS, it will depend upon how the rest of the league finishes. The Gator does not want Georgia Tech and the Peach is not thrilled by the idea either. The records of the other bowl eligible teams and the BCS standings will determine where the fall. Right now, it appears they can fall no further than the Champs Bowl in Orlando.

Duke: At 3-and-3, they are the surprise of the season. They need just three more wins to go to a bowl game for the first time since 1994. They are not a factor in the Coastal race, but they are very much in the thick of the bowl hunt. With the possibility of two BCS teams and maybe not enough teams qualifying for bowls, Duke could get a nice bowl bid with just a six win season.

The good news is they have just two ranked teams left on the schedule. Maryland, UNC, Wake and Virginia are all winnable games for this team. Two are road games, which means holding serve at home and beating a Virginia or North Carolina on the road. That would put them into a bowl, probably Charlotte or DC.

Virginia: Once left for dead, the Hoos are now 3-and-3 and undefeated in conference. No one thinks they can keep winning. So, a division title seems farfetched. Plus, they have three ranked teams coming up and two tough ones against BC and Clemson. The reality is they are playing for bowl eligibility, not the division title.

To get bowl eligible, it means winning three of the final six. GT, Miami and VT are unlikely. That leaves winning at home against Duke and Boston College and on the road at Clemson. It is a tall task, but doable if they keep playing well. That would probably land them in Charlotte or DC, with the later being the most likely.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels have fallen off the map, despite a 4-and-2 record. That's because they two conference losses and just two wins against FBS schools. They need to win three of their final six to get bow eligible due to the extra FCS game. Even if they run the table, they cannot win the Coastal, so bowl eligibility is what matters now.

The post-season will probably be decided tonight. They host Florida State. A loss and it is just about over for the Tar Heels. A win and they will just need to beat Duke at home and BC on the road to get a bid. Otherwise, they will need to win at NC State, a big task against a long time rival. The most likely landing spot if they make the post season is Nashville.

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