Coastal chances are slim, but still alive. For Duke to win the division, North Carolina has to lose to Miami, Virginia Tech, and NC State. While completely unnatural and counterintuitive for Duke fans, you really want UNC to lose. I know, crazy.
The biggest focus at this point is the bowl picture, which is still very important and very much within Duke’s control. Three wins and Duke’s in a great bowl game. Two wins likely gets them there too, but they’ll need help. Notre Dame wins help, and with the Irish playing Wake Forest this weekend, you’re looking good there. This would keep Notre Dame and Clemson in the New Years Six and out of the ACC bowl picture, which means five conference teams will share the Pool 1 slots and the Russell Athletic Bowl. UNC and Florida State are locks, which leaves Duke, Pitt, Miami, Louisville and NC State to fight out the final three spots. You’ll want NC State to lose to Florida State, and while a Louisville loss to Virginia would certainly help as well.
The Tar Heels clinch the division with a win vs. Miami and a Duke win vs. Pitt, so swallow your pride and cheer for the Blue Devils because a trip to Blacksburg on Beamer Day is not going to be easy, and we all know how unpredictable the NC State series is. This is simple for you. Just keep winning, you don’t have to worry about much else that’s going on around you.
The committee ranking the Heels outside of the top 20 essentially kills any chance of making it to a New Years Six bowl without winning the ACC championship. There are two schools of thought here: Clemson wins keep them out of the Russell Athletic Bowl, but a Clemson loss likely has them uninspired in the ACC Championship Game. The best bet is to hope Syracuse loses to Clemson (I know, crazy), and hope that Florida State beats NC State to give the Noles a fighting chance at the New Years Six. I get it. That spot is rightfully yours, and there’s no reason FSU is ranked ahead of North Carolina. But the reality is that they’re there, and it’s going to help UNC for the Noles to jump into the top 12, putting the Heels in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
The goal at this point is a Pool 1 bowl, so the most helpful outcome this weekend is a win vs. Florida State, a Duke loss to Pitt, a Miami loss to UNC, and a Louisville loss to Virginia.