Here's this week's look at the ever-changing bowl picture for ACC teams. Keep in mind these are still just our projections at this point, and will likely change again after next weekend's games.
We have heard that "proximity" is the watch word of all the bowls this year. The closer a bowl eligible team is to a bowl, the better its odds of getting there, within obvious restrictions.
Boston College vs. Cincinnati
The Orange Bowl takes the ACC champion unless the champion plays in the national title game, which isn't going to happen this year. Even though Virginia Tech could very easily beat BC in the title game, I like the Eagles to win even with back up quarterback Dominique Davis. The Miami Chamber of Commerce will have to console itself that it gets the national title game, perhaps with the Florida Gators as one of the teams.
Virginia Tech vs. Ole Miss
Ole Miss, in its first year under Houston Nutt, is bowl eligible and hasn't gone bowling since 2003. There will be a lot of pent up demand in Mississippi for a bowl trip, and Atlanta is about a five hour drive from Oxford. The bowl selection process requires the eventual ACC team to be within one win of the team with the best available Conference record, so the Chick-Fil-A committee has several options, but the Virginia Tech fans travel very well.
Florida State vs. Nebraska
The Gator Bowl would love to reprise this match-up that would have been a hot ticket in the 1990s. Both teams are hot right now and both are putting up some nice offensive numbers (particularly Nebraska). Proximity will bring the Seminole fans while the Cornhuskers would probably love this trip even in this economy.
Georgia Tech vs. Minnesota
Minnesota would jump at the chance to play in Orlando, as it helps Tim Brewster mine fertile Florida recruiting turf. Georgia Tech fans aren't known to travel in droves, but this bowl is as good as its fans might hope for. The bowl selection process again requires the Champs Bowl to select an ACC team that is within one victory of the team with the best available record. Again, that covers several ACC schools. North Carolina could wind up here.
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North Carolina vs. Kentucky
Nashville would be very accessible to Kentucky and North Carolina fans, and their basketball feuds over the years might help attendance. North Carolina might wind up elsewhere, like the Champs Bowl, but this appears to be the most likely destination.
The good news for Tar Heel fans is that the game would fall on New Year's Eve, instead of the 27th of December, as would the Champs Bowl.
Note: If the Music City, Meineke, and Emerald Bowls can agree to each take a different choice and the teams chosen agree to the choices, then their picks stand. If not, then the bowls will choose in the following order and must choose a team within one win of the team with the best available Conference record:
1. Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
2. Meineke Car Care Bowl
3. Emerald Bowl
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL
Clemson vs. Pittsburgh
The Meineke Bowl has the next ACC selection and has typically taken ACC schools close by – North Carolina, North Carolina State, and Wake Forest have all played in that bowl. I like Pittsburgh as the Big East opponent in this match-up, The Meineke Bowl would be thrilled to have Clemson here, as proximity and the fact that Clemson fans travel well would be a big boost to attendance.
Miami vs. California
This Bay Area bowl game would be well-served if Cal winds up being the selection here, as appears entirely possible. The Cal fans in close proximity would help bowl attendance, and Miami is a "national" name.
Maryland vs. Boise State
I hate to see an undefeated Broncos team fall this far in bowl consideration, but unless a BCS bowls taps Boise State, they could end up here. I see Utah as the most likely non-BCS team to make to a BCS bowl, like the Fiesta.
Wake Forest vs. Navy
Maybe not what Wake Forest fans were hoping for at the beginning of the year, but being in the inaugural Congressional Bowl isn't a bad reward for somewhat of a disappointing season for the Deacs.
Note: Though N.C. State is bowl-eligible, per bowl selection rules they cannot be selected for a bowl with 6 wins over an ACC 7-win team. They would therefore be eligible as an at-large team for a bowl unaffiliated with the ACC, such as the Motor City Bowl.