Bowl Options May be Limited

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina's loss to N.C. State on Saturday could send the Tar Heels free falling down the ACC's bowl selection order if the Tar Heels aren't able to win their final two games.

UNC (6-4, 2-4 ACC) is currently one of only six ACC teams bowl eligible, but three other teams are in line for a postseason berth with wins over the final three weeks of the season.

Clemson (8-1, 5-1 ACC; vs. WFU, NCSU), Virginia Tech (8-1, 4-1 ACC; vs. GT, UNC, UVa), Georgia Tech (7-2, 4-2 ACC; vs. VT, Duke) and Florida State (6-3, 4-2 ACC; vs. Mia, UVa) are expected to fill out the ACC's top four bowl tie-ins – (1) Orange Bowl, (2) Chick-fil-A Bowl, (3) Champs Sports Bowl and (4) Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Virginia is also bowl eligible with a 6-3 (3-2 ACC) record with games remaining against Duke, Florida State and Virginia Tech.

Wake Forest (5-4, 4-2 ACC; CU, MD, Vanderbilt) and Miami (5-4, 3-3 ACC; FSU, South Florida, BC) only need one more win to become bowl eligible, while N.C. State (5-4, 2-3 ACC) needs two wins in its final three games against Boston College, Clemson and Maryland to earn a second-straight postseason berth due to having two victories against FCS schools.

Projections make for a dangerous occupation, but if the favored teams win out in ACC play over the next three weeks, Wake Forest would finish at 5-3 in conference play, while Miami and N.C. State would both post 4-4 marks. If North Carolina follows a similar projection path and loses at Virginia Tech on Nov. 17 and beats Duke in its season finale, the Tar Heels would finish with a league-worst 3-5 mark among bowl eligible teams.

The next four bowls in the ACC's selection order are as follows: (5) Belk Bowl, (6) Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, (7) Advocare V100 Independence Bowl and (8) Military Bowl.

The ACC also has a conditional tie-in with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. That bowl is slated for a 2011 matchup between the Pac-12's No. 6 team and Army, but the Black Knights (3-6) must win out against Rutgers, Temple and Navy to become bowl eligible.

Poor attendance at Kenan Stadium has been a topic of conversation all season long, but even so, the Tar Heels would appear to be competitive against the likes of Virginia, Miami and N.C. State in a selection process geared toward generating revenue. Wake Forest, however, could deliver a blow to UNC's possible ascension up the pecking order.

If the bowl next up in the order of selection doesn't pick the ACC team available with the best conference record, it must choose a team within one win of that team. This rule is otherwise known as the ACC's "one-win rule" and applies to all subsequent bowl choices.

So while a bowl could select North Carolina (3-5) over N.C. State (4-4), that bowl could not pick North Carolina over a 5-3 Wake Forest team. In the aforementioned projection scenario, N.C. State, Virginia and Miami could all be picked over the Demon Deacons, which provides those teams with a significant advantage over UNC.

Wake Forest ranks 73rd nationally in total average attendance (33,127). The Demon Deacons travel well relative to their alumni base, but having the smallest enrollment of any BCS conference school limits their ability to send large numbers to bowl games.

Wake Forest's last bowl appearance was the EagleBank Bowl – now the Military Bowl – against Navy on Dec. 20, 2008. The game was played in front of 28,777 fans at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

A victory over Vanderbilt to close the season would put Wake Forest in the mix for the Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk Bowl along with Virginia and N.C. State, but if that option falls through, the black and gold could tumble down the bowl ladder, taking UNC along for the ride.

Miami is unlikely to fall past the Music City Bowl in the sixth slot, so if Virginia or N.C. State is invited to the Belk Bowl, the other team could end up in the Independence Bowl due to its travel base. The Independence Bowl's 2010 matchup between Air Force and Georgia Tech drew less than 40,000 fans.

In that scenario, Wake Forest would play in the Military Bowl and North Carolina would be shipped off to San Francisco for a New Year's Eve game against a Pac-12 opponent.

ACC Bowl Tie-Ins

Dec. 26 -- Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La., ESPN2, 5:00 pm

Dec. 27 -- Belk Bowl, Charlotte, N.C., ESPN, 8:00 pm

Dec. 28 -- Military Bowl, Washington, D.C., ESPN, 4:30 pm

Dec. 29 -- Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla., ESPN, 5:30 pm

Dec. 30 -- F.A.M. Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn., ESPN, 6:40 pm

Dec. 31 -- Hyundai Sun Bowl, El Paso,Tex., CBS, 2:00 pm

Dec. 31 -- Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, San Francisco, Calif., ESPN, 3:30 pm

Dec. 31 -- Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta, Ga., ESPN, 7:30 pm

Jan. 4 -- Discover Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla., ESPN, 8:00 pm

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