With the regular season down to its last two weeks, each team must find something to play for, whether it be a conference championship, a division title, enough wins to hopefully get in a bowl game, or pride to finish the year out on a positive note. Like all other FBS teams, those in the ACC are no different. September 1 seems like a million miles away now, but when Georgia Tech and Wake Forest kicked off their seasons, they both had all of the above goals in view. Of course, some goals are more realistic than others. Neither could really believe they were going to be national champions, at least not without winning a lot of games and getting quite a bit of help. That said, they both could dream of winning the ACC, or at the very least earning a spot in the championship game by virtue of winning their respective divisions. Those dreams died last week, as Georgia Tech’s division hopes crashed after losing to Virginia Tech last Thursday, while Wake Forest gave Clemson all they wanted before falling on a last second field goal to the Tigers on Saturday. For those two, it now becomes a matter of finishing strong and seeing where they may play in the postseason. Georgia Tech already is bowl eligible, while Wake Forest needs one more win in its final two games. Wake figures to have its best chance on Saturday, when the reeling Maryland Terrapins head down to Winston-Salem. A win over the Terps would make the Demon Deacons bowl eligible, something no one predicted when the season started, except maybe the players and coaches.
By virtue of its win over Wake Forest, Clemson has earned its spot in the ACC Championship game, to face an opponent yet to be determined. The Tigers have one conference game remaining, as N.C. State comes to Raleigh needing to win both of its last two games to become bowl eligible. The Wolfpack have been up and down all season, and last week was a down week, losing to a Boston College team that is going nowhere. N.C. State has beaten Virginia and North Carolina though, so it can win against good teams. But if Clemson comes into the game focused, the Wolfpack will find the going very difficult to get that much needed win.
While the Atlantic division is decided, the Coastal is still in doubt. However the status has cleared up, as Miami and Georgia Tech both played their way out of contention with losses last week. That leaves the Hokies and the Cavaliers as the last teams standing. Both teams have two conference games left on the schedule; the final one against each other in Charlottesville. If both teams win or lose this week, or if Virginia Tech loses and Virginia wins, it sets up a winner take all finale between the two next week. Before that can happen, the Hokies must deal with the Tar Heels on Thursday night, while the Cavaliers take on resurgent Florida State on Saturday.
Rounding out the rest of the schedule for Saturday: Duke faces Georgia Tech in the only other conference game on the schedule. Notre Dame goes for a 3-0 ACC record when it hosts Boston College, and Miami faces South Florida in a game the Hurricanes need to win to become bowl eligible. Six ACC teams are currently bowl eligible: Clemson, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Virginia, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Two teams can become bowl eligible by winning one of their last two games: Wake Forest and Miami. One team can become bowl eligible by winning both of its last two games: North Carolina State. Three teams cannot become bowl eligible: Duke, Boston College and Maryland.