Conference Stock Report

The final three weeks of the season offer some compelling matchups and story lines. Three teams are fighting for bowl eligibility. One team is looking for an at-large BCS bid and another is hoping for their first trip to the title game. This week could see one division wrapped up. We may also see one or more teams eliminated from bowl contention.

Buy

Georgia Tech: Last week was a close call, but that is to be expected for the best team in the conference playing league games in November. They get everyone's best shot. Wake is a team that is desperate and they will give every team their best game until they are eliminated. What makes Georgia Tech our top team this week is they were able to overcome it and get the win at home.

The path from here is clear. If they beat Duke this week, they win the Coastal and go to the title game. Sitting at seventh in the BCS, they are a long shot to make the BCS title game, but it is not impossible. Their strength of schedule could move them into the top-4, even if they don't get help. An upset here or there and Georgia Tech could be in the title game.

Clemson: It is fair to say that Clemson got Florida State's best game this year. It was the game most thought was their most likely loss in November. They won and put themselves in position to win the Atlantic. They hold the tie-breaker over BC and knocked FSU out of the picture. That means they control their destiny.

Clemson is not playing for anything else other than a shot at the title game. If they beat NC State on the road this week, they probably win the division. From that point, it is a question of bowl seeding. If they win the title game they go to the Orange Bowl, otherwise it is a choice between the Gator and the Peach. Basically, their season is about winning this weekend and locking up the Atlantic division.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies got back on the winning track with a solid win over East Carolina. On paper, it is not an impressive win. The Pirates, however, have a history of play VT close and giving them their best game, which they did last week. The Hokies won a tough game on the road and got back into the conversation for a big bowl.

To win the Coastal, they need a miracle. Georgia Tech has to lose and they need Miami to win the rest of their games. Under certain scenarios, they could win the tie-breaker. That's not going to happen. The goal now is to keep winning and get to one the league's big non-BCS bowls. That means winning out and maybe making a better case for the Peach than Clemson. Short of that, it is winning out and getting the Champs or Gator Bowl.

Miami: The Canes still have a shot to in the vision, but it I not a good one. They need to win at UNC, something they have never done, and beat Duke. They also need Georgia Tech to lose to Duke. Those are very long odds. The best they can hope for is a second place finish in the division. That puts them in contention for one of the two Florida based bowls.

There is also the remote chance they get an at-large bid to the BCS. Miami does not travel well, or even draw well at home. They do, however, draw attention. Sitting at fourteen in the polls, three more wins could easily put them in the to-10 by the end of the season. Otherwise, they are probably headed to the Gator Bowl to play Notre Dame.

Hold

Boston College: The Eagles had a bye week and had to watch Clemson knock off FSU. The Eagles not only need to keep winning, they need Clemson to drop a game. Otherwise, they can finish no higher than second place in the division. Even with a Clemson loss, they will need to win their final three, two are on the road.

That's really the big challenge for this team. They have held serve at home, but have been awful on the road. That's the challenge facing them right now. They have to go to Virginia, play well and come away with a win if they are to be considered a good team. Virginia is reeling and the atmosphere in Charlottesville is expected to be lackluster. This is one they have to keep from falling into the sell category.

Florida State: One part of their season came to an end last week. When they lost at Clemson, they were eliminated from contention in the Atlantic. Now, they are simply playing for bowl eligibility. Florida State needs two wins from their final three, one of which is against Florida. Otherwise, they will miss the post season for the first time in over two decades.

The key game is this week. They head to Wake Forest, a team equally desperate and playing for their post-season lives. They will have to find a way to win without Christian Ponder, who is out for the season. If they can find a way to it, they come home to host hapless Maryland, which should get their sixth win.

NC State: The Wolfpack finally broke through and won their first game since September. They held on to beat Maryland at home, thus ending a four game losing streak. That was good news, but the fact that they had such a struggle with Maryland suggests this team is still not right. There simply is no excuse for giving up 31 points to Maryland at home.

Like Florida State, the margin for error is slim. They can afford just one more loss in order to get bowl eligible. You have to assume they lose at Virginia Tech in two weeks. That means winning the two remaining home games. They get Clemson this week and finish with UNC. If they win on Saturday, they are still alive. Otherwise, it is time to close the book on this season.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels may be turning a corner. They beat Virginia Tech on the road two weeks ago. They came home and stifled a very good Duke offense. The offense remains a problem, but they may have the best defense in the conference. It is that defense that has stepped up and won them the last two games. As long as the offense does not turn it over, they can beat anyone left on their schedule.

To get bowl eligible, they need one more win. They have their final home game of the season this week when they host Miami. Then it is on the road to BC and NC State. If they win one, then they probably end up in Nashville. If they run the table, they could be in the mix for the Champs or the Gator. So, it is not just bowl eligibility. They are playing for bowl seeding.

Sell

Duke: Reality hit home last week as Duke was stuffed by UNC. They still have an outside chance to make the post season. They need one more win, but it will not be easy. They get Georgia Tech this week, Miami next week and finish up with Wake at home. Their best shot is to win at home in the finale and make a bowl game for the first time in 1,000 years.

Wake Forest: Things are grim for Wake. They have to win their final two games to become bowl eligible. Next up is Florida State at home. They catch a break with Ponder out for the season. Then they go to Duke in the finale. Their last two games are against teams desperate to make the post-season, which means it will be a battle.

Virginia: It is just about over for the Cavaliers. They have one winnable game left on the schedule and that is this week against BC. After that it is two beatings to end the season, at Clemson and home against Virginia Tech. After the Hokie game, they will fire Coach Groh and begin the search for a new man to lead the program.

Maryland: The season is done for the Terps. With seven losses, their season is done. The only question left is who will be the coach next season. There is some speculation Friedgen will step down after this year. Others expect he will come back for one more year. He is a class guy and it would be good to see him back, instead of going out on such a down note.


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