Week 11 ACC Bowl Projections — Oranges to Apples

What a wild week for the ACC! There are plenty of movers and shakers as a result of last week's games. Clemson's College Football Playoff hopes may have been dashed, Wake Forest and Syracuse both stumbled and Florida State made a huge primetime statement.

The ACC has at least nine, iron-clad bowl affiliations, with potential for more destinations if need be, including the College Football Playoff and ReliaQuest Bowl. Linked here is a list of the bowls affiliated with the ACC this year. The way I've decided to weigh whether an ACC team makes a bowl or not will rely on ESPN's FPI projections. I've also found handy conference ranking tie-in's via this Athletic projections article.


Projected record: 11-2

Result: Orange Bowl vs. Alabama

Reasoning: Yikes. It was not a good week for the Tigers, who got blown out in South Bend against Notre Dame and tumbled to 10th in the College Football Playoff Top 25 Rankings. Clemson had flirted with close games earlier this season, particularly against Wake Forest and Syracuse, but it wasn't even a contest against the Fighting Irish. I think North Carolina has a legitimate shot to beat them in the ACC Championship Game, but for now, I still think they win the conference and head to the Orange Bowl. They'll take on Alabama — a team they have plenty of history against but in a game prognosticators probably didn't envision them in at the start of the season. It's still a New Year's Six bowl, though, and one that would capture plenty of attention from college football fans.

North Carolina

Projected record: 10-3

Result: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Kansas State

Reasoning: UNC still has a great opportunity to finish with an Orange Bowl berth. They have continued to win close games on the backs of their offense and, in particular, freshman quarterback Drake Maye. They will provide a strong challenge to Clemson in the conference championship game and no matter the result of that game, this has become a great season for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina State

Projected record: 9-3

Result: Gator Bowl vs. Kentucky

Reasoning: The Wolfpack notched a huge victory against in-state rival Wake Forest last Saturday night with freshman quarterback MJ Morris under center. The defense was strong once again, and Morris capitalized on his playing time opportunity. He has the dual threat tools to become one of the ACC's top quarterbacks down the line. After NC State's narrow win against Virginia Tech, I admittedly thought this team would be toast and be lucky to get to 7-5, but they've really turned their season around and look like they'll be in a strong position to secure a nice bowl bid.

Notre Dame

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Holiday Bowl vs. Utah

Reasoning: The Fighting Irish, as noted, can 'steal' a bowl game bid from another ACC team if they are within one game of them respectively. In this situation, Notre Dame snags a spot in one of the ACC's top bowl tie-ins, and they head to the west coast to take on a PAC-12 foe. The Irish have routinely played against PAC-12 teams in the past, primarily rivals USC and Stanford, so I think it makes sense to have them play out in California, where they would be more likely to draw an audience compared to other ACC teams.

Florida State

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Sun Bowl vs. Washington

Reasoning: The Seminoles get knocked down a little bit on the ACC bowl ladder by virtue of Clemson getting knocked down and both Notre Dame and NC State moving up. Florida State played a complete game in its domination of rival Miami in a 45-3 primetime rout. The program seems to be peaking at just the right time and can further move up in the conference with a win this week at Syracuse.


Projected record: 8-4

Result: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Minnesota

Reasoning: The Orange were among the ACC's biggest losers over the past week, both in its brutal loss at Pittsburgh and falling out of the CFP Rankings. Syracuse returns home to the JMA Wireless Dome for Senior Day against the aforementioned Seminoles, who have scored 86 points in their last two games. The Orange defense has largely held up, but the offense has been in a tailspin over the last few weeks, arguably hitting rock bottom in its 9-point effort against the Panthers. Syracuse has likely fallen out of an opportunity to get to one of the conference's Florida-based bowls, but they stay in the New York area and return to the Pinstripe Bowl for the first time in a decade. They'll take on Minnesota, who they last played — and beat — in the 2013 Texas Bowl.

Wake Forest

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Duke's Mayo Bowl vs. Maryland

Reasoning: The Demon Deacons suffered another tough loss this past week on the road against North Carolina State. Wake Forest's offense, their strength coming into the season, has hit a rough snag at arguably the worst time of the season. It's the same bowl projection as last week for the Demon Deacons, who need to figure things out fast ahead of a home contest against North Carolina.


Projected record: 8-4

Result: Military Bowl vs. UCF

Reasoning: The Blue Devils are back in a bowl game following its road win against Boston College. It's the same bowl projection as last week here for Duke, who has rebounded well this season and would have a chance to take on a very talented Group of Five team in the currently-ranked Knights here.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Fenway Bowl vs. Cincinnati

Reasoning: The Panthers took advantage of a depleted Syracuse team, ending its own slide and needing just one more win to become bowl-eligible with a favorable schedule down the stretch. This is the same projection as last week for Pittsburgh, staying in the northeast by shipping up to Boston for a bowl game against one of the nation's top Group of Five programs.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Gasparilla Bowl vs. UTSA

Reasoning: The Cardinals have two straight solid wins against Wake Forest and James Madison, but head into a difficult stretch against Clemson, NC State and Kentucky. It will be a challenging last few weeks, but Louisville has safely secured bowl eligibility already.

Teams projected to miss bowl games: Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College