Breaking Down Potential Bowl Opponents

I know, they are only 4-6 and the way the ball has been bouncing this season, assuming Navy will beat San Jose State and Army is probably not the wisest thing to do. However, with Saturday's upset win over SMU, the Midshipmen are in a position to make the folks at the Military Bowl a pretty happy bunch. IF Navy wins out, who could they play?

If eligible, Navy will play a team from the ACC in the Military Bowl in Washington D.C. on December 28. The Military Bowl will get the eighth selection amongst bowl-qualified ACC teams. The selection order for the ACC is as follows: BCS, Chick-fil-a, Champs Sports, Sun, Belk, Music City, Independence, Military, and (thanks to an ineligible Army) the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.

The selection process calls for the bowl committees to adhere to a ‘one-win rule' which means that they can select any team OR a team that is within one-win of the next best available team. So for instance the Sun Bowl can take a 5-3 Georgia Tech team or a 4-4 Virginia team. However, they can't pass over a Wake Forest team that is 5-3 if there are no 4-4 teams.

After Clemson and Virginia Tech in all likelihood fill out the BCS and Chick-fil-a bowl slots, here are the remaining ACC teams, followed by their current overall record, current conference record, projected conference record, and remaining games. The games in bold I project as conference wins.

Florida State: 7-3, 5-2, 6-2 (Virginia, at Florida)

Georgia Tech: 7-3, 4-3, 5-3 (at Duke, Georgia)

Wake Forest:  5-5, 4-3, 5-3 (Maryland, Vanderbilt)

Miami: 5-5, 3-4, 4-4 (at South Florida, Boston College)

Virginia: 7-3, 4-2, 4-4 (at Florida State, Virginia Tech)

North Carolina: 6-4, 2-4, 3-5 (at Virginia Tech, Duke)

North Carolina State: 5-5, 2-4, 3-5 (Clemson, Maryland)

Based on the above predictions, I think the bowls will select the following teams:

Champs Sports (ACC #3) Florida State

There is no chance of the Seminoles falling past this game as they will be the best traveling team of the bunch. Even if they lose to Virginia, the Cavaliers will not jump over them for this in-state game for the Seminoles.

Sun (ACC #4) Virginia

This was a close call between Georgia Tech and Virginia. I gave the nod to Cavaliers because I think they will travel better than the Yellow Jackets – and let's face it, that's really all that matters. Sun Bowl officials will probably look at Georgia Tech's $14 bowl ticket promotion last year as a sign that they may want to go with a team that hasn't been bowl eligible since 2007. I think the only way Georgia Tech could go here is if they win out and finish 9-3 and are ranked in the top 20. I'd take a 9-3 Tech team over a 7-5 Virginia team, but that's just me.

Belk (ACC #5) Georgia Tech

The Charlotte-based bowl game would probably love to land Virginia or in-state eligible North Carolina or North Carolina State here. However, I think Virginia will be taken already and I don't think either North Carolina team will be within reach as per the ‘one-win' rule, which will leave the Belk with an interesting dilemma. Do you take the in-state Wake Forest team which has one of the smallest study bodies (about 4,000) in the country and a similarly small alumni base? Or do you take the Yellow Jackets from not-too-far-away Atlanta? I think they go with the later.

Music City (ACC #6) Miami

Wake Forest's fall will continue as the Music City Bowl will be able to take a 4-4 Miami team before the Demon Deacons. If Boston College manages to channel Doug Flutie and upset the Hurricanes, the Demon Deacons would most likely land here if they are able to beat the Terrapins to take their ACC record to 5-3.

Independence (ACC #7) Wake Forest

If all of my ACC predictions hold true, a 5-3 Wake Forest team will have to be selected by the Independence Bowl since there will be no other teams within one-win of them left in the conference. This will have Navy fans rejoicing because the last thing any Midshipmen fan wants to see is another bowl game in Washington D.C. against Wake Forest.

Military (ACC #8) North Carolina

If Wake Forest beats Maryland it really doesn't matter what North Carolina does against Duke – assuming the Tar Heels lose this Thursday at Virginia Tech. That would put North Carolina two wins away from the Demon Deacons and the first team with a 3-5 conference record to be selected. Is it possible that Navy alum Tom O'Brien and his North Carolina State team land here? I guess so, but I'm thinking that the Tar Heels will travel a lot better and thus be the more logical ($) choice.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (ACC #9) North Carolina State

I guess one could argue that no bowl committee is rooting for Wake Forest to beat Maryland more than the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl folks. That's because if they finish 4-4 in the conference, the Demon Deacons will fall to this West Coast game which I'm sure their fans will not travel to. Ironically, the following week, the Kraft organizers may turn around and root for Maryland to upset North Carolina State, knocking the Wolf Pack out of bowl eligibility. This would mean the Kraft gurus can take a team from the more geographically-friendly Big Ten. But really, since this bowl selects after the Military Bowl, who cares who they take?


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