Week 12 ACC Bowl Projections — Syracuse Shipping Up to Boston

There's a little more clarity in the ACC with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. It's all but certain Clemson and North Carolina will battle for the conference crown in the ACC's championship game, while most teams vying for a bowl game have already automatically qualified by reaching six wins. Syracuse, however, has arguably taken the biggest tumble in the conference following its 6-0 start, but the Orange has an opportunity to right the ship and still qualify for a good bowl game.

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: 12-2

Result: Orange Bowl vs. Alabama

Reasoning: This is the same projection as last week. Clemson got back on track with a home win against Louisville following its loss to Notre Dame that sent it tumbling in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Clemson, currently No. 9 in the rankings, still may have a chance to get into the playoff picture by winning out, but they'll have to hope for some help and see teams like Tennessee, LSU and USC bow out ahead of them. The Tigers have about a one-in-four chance to reach the playoff, according to FPI projections.

North Carolina

Projected record: 11-3

Result: Gator Bowl vs. Florida

Reasoning: This projection is switched up a little bit for the Tar Heels, who take on a Gators squad in what would likely be a rowdy Jacksonville crowd between two state schools. Despite this projection, 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. The Tar Heels won on the road outright as underdogs against in-state rival Wake Forest last week, and their offense is clicking on all cylinders. 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.

Florida State

Projected record: 9-3

Result: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Oklahoma State

Reasoning: The Seminoles have been on fire over its last three games, blowing out Georgia Tech, Miami and Syracuse to grab hold of second place in the ACC Atlantic behind only Clemson. They'll stay in-state and draw a big crowd to Orlando following what's become a resurgent season for the program. While they won't make the ACC title game, Florida State has taken a huge step forward and looks like it could be on its way back to national prominence.

Notre Dame

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Holiday Bowl vs. UCLA

Reasoning: This is the same projection as last week, following Notre Dame's close win against Navy. 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 and in-state UCLA would be more likely to draw an audience compared to other ACC teams.

North Carolina State

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Duke's Mayo Bowl vs. Maryland

Reasoning: The Wolfpack, following a strong win against in-state rival Wake Forest, came back crashing down to Earth in a stunning home loss to Boston College. NC State remains ranked, but staying there will be very much tested with road games against Louisville and UNC coming up. I've had the Wolfpack projected to this Charlotte-based bowl before, so I'm going to place them back into this spot where they'd likely draw a solid home crowd.


Projected record: 8-4

Result: Military Bowl vs. Tulane

Reasoning: The Blue Devils are back in a bowl game and have strung together some good momentum of late with wins against Boston College and Virginia Tech. 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 Green Wave here. I had Duke taking on UCF before, but I think the Knights will instead vie for a Cotton Bowl bid following their road win at Tulane.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Fenway Bowl vs. Cincinnati

Reasoning: The Orange slide continues following its Senior Day blowout against Florida State. Syracuse will look to break the skid against Wake Forest, a program also on a rough losing streak. Both these teams were in the CFP Rankings just a few weeks ago, but have since fallen to 6-4. For Syracuse, I think they'll head to Boston here to take on an old Big East rival in Cincinnati, who are currently ranked No. 25 in the CFP Rankings.

Wake Forest

Projected record: 7-5

Result: Sun Bowl vs. Washington

Reasoning: The Demon Deacons suffered another tough loss this past week at home against rival UNC. Wake Forest's offense, their strength coming into the season, has hit a rough snag at arguably the worst time of the season. This bowl projection is about two offenses dueling it out behind senior quarterbacks Sam Hartman and the Huskies' Michael Penix Jr., but the Demon Deacons will need to figure some things out on that side of the ball before the postseason.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Purdue

Reasoning: The Panthers stomped the Virginia Cavaliers with two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the first quarter and never looked back. Pittsburgh will head to the Big Apple to take on Purdue, a team that's yet to play in this particular bowl game.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Gasparilla Bowl vs. UTSA

Reasoning: This is the same projection as last week for the Cardinals, who are coming off a loss against Clemson. They have a good test against ranked NC State at home, followed by a rivalry contest against Kentucky to end the season.

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