As early as 2016, de-regulation of conference championship games is expected to take place to give leagues like the ACC the ability to determine their own rules for the placement of teams in their league championship games. There is speculation that the league could move to three divisions, or could move to a more flexible scheduling model, with both options leaving it up to the College Football Playoff committee to determine the ACC Championship Game participants by the rankings in the season’s penultimate poll. The concept allows for the ACC Champion to add a guaranteed quality win to their resume in advance of the selection of playoff teams.
With the release of the latest poll last night, Clemson remained at #1, Florida State moved up to 14th, and North Carolina jumped six spots, coming in at #17. The Tar Heels can clinch a championship game berth with a win in Blacksburg on Saturday, Pitt remains alive in the Coastal if UNC should falter, and Clemson has already wrapped up the Atlantic championship and their spot in the finale. Under the future criteria for championship game selection, North Carolina would need to somehow leap Florida State in the polls for the right to play the Tigers in Charlotte, even with an 11-1 record compared to the two-loss Seminoles. Ultimately, the second ACC Championship spot would be decided by the Florida/Florida State non-conference rivalry game, and North Carolina’s fate would be completely out of their hands.