Week 10 ACC Bowl Projections — California Dreamin'?

After the Week 9 results, there were some significant shakeups near the top of the ACC standings. North Carolina moved one step closer toward a Coastal Division crown, while Syracuse lost at home to Notre Dame and Wake Forest got clobbered on the road against Louisville. It also breathed some life into programs fighting for bowl eligibility, including aforementioned Louisville and Miami.

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: 12-1

Result: College Football Playoff — Peach Bowl vs. Georgia

Reasoning: For some reason, FPI still projects the Tigers to finish with a 12-1 record — but to be honest, I'm not buying it. Clemson is unlikely to face another ranked team this season until a potential battle against North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. The Tigers do have a primetime road game against Notre Dame coming up and have looked vulnerable, but given their history and pedigree, this seems like a team that is primed to make another CFP appearance.

North Carolina

Projected record: 10-3

Result: Orange Bowl vs. Ole Miss

Reasoning: Speaking of the Tar Heels, they've moved into prime position for a chance at clinching a New Year's Six berth. The UNC offense has been running on all cylinders with freshman phenom quarterback Drake Maye, and they look primed to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship game. UNC does have a few remaining major tests in games against Wake Forest and NC State, but the Tar Heels have found ways to win close games all season long. An Orange Bowl against another high-powered offense in Ole Miss would be a fun one to watch for college football fans.


Projected record: 8-4

Result: Holiday Bowl vs. Washington

Reasoning: This was the original landing spot I had for the Orange in Week 8, and I once again think they'll get slotted here. The loss against Notre Dame hurt the Orange in a couple ways — their projected win count dropped and the Fighting Irish now have a real chance to steal an ACC bowl bid from them, Wake Forest or NC State if they finish within one game in the standings. The Orange don't normally play PAC-12 teams, and this one would be a fun contest against the Huskies passing attack. Syracuse still has a shot at an Orange Bowl berth as the second place team in the ACC Atlantic, but they'll likely need to win out to jump UNC in the rankings and make it happen.

Wake Forest

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Duke's Mayo Bowl vs. Maryland

Reasoning: The Demon Deacons suffered the biggest drop in projections this week after being consistently slotted in the Orange Bowl. The loss to Louisville was jarring, as the Wake offense became undisciplined and repeatedly turned the ball over, giving way to a Cardinals blowout win. Wake's chances at an Orange Bowl berth are hurt, but I don't think they're out of the running just yet. The Demon Deacons have a critical three-game stretch against ranked opponents starting this week — at NC State, followed by home games against UNC and Syracuse — that will certainly define their season and what kind of bowl game they'll end up in. It will be interesting to see how they respond.

Florida State

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State

Reasoning: It's the same landing spot projection as last week for the Seminoles. Florida State started out strong this season, lost three straight games and then ended the skid with a comfortable victory over Georgia Tech. A primetime game against underwhelming in-state rival Miami this week gives them a chance to clinch a bowl berth.

Notre Dame

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Texas

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 take on another huge, brand-name program in the Texas Longhorns. While both programs have somewhat underwhelmed this year, this game would likely draw in massive ratings given both programs' fanbases.

North Carolina State

Projected record: 8-4

Result: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Purdue

Reasoning: The Wolfpack are the team I think will end up on the outside looking in for a higher-quality ACC bowl berth. Despite losing quarterback Devin Leary for the season, this NC State team still has a stout defense, but there's a lot of questions about this offense following a near loss at home to Virginia Tech, one of the conference's worst teams this season. The Wolfpack will need to improve on that side of the ball to ensure a better bowl berth, but they do at least get a good game here against the Boilermakers.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Sun Bowl vs. Oregon State

Reasoning: The Cardinals scored a statement win in their victory over Wake Forest and look like they will make it into a decent ACC bowl game. Louisville still has Clemson on its schedule, but other games against NC State and Kentucky suddenly look more winnable than they had a few weeks ago.


Projected record: 7-5

Result: Military Bowl vs. UCF

Reasoning: The Blue Devils have a chance to earn bowl eligibility this weekend with its contest against Boston College, one of the conference's worst teams this season. Duke 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: 6-6

Result: Fenway Bowl vs. Cincinnati

Reasoning: The Panthers have lost three of their last four games and are likely going to have to scratch and claw their way to a bowl game. Pittsburgh has the talent to be able to get to 8-4, but passing game woes and overall inconsistency will probably put this program near the bottom of the ACC's bowl tie-ins. They'll stay 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: 6-6

Result: Gasparilla Bowl vs. Memphis

Reasoning: The Hurricanes pulled out an ugly triple-overtime win against Virginia last weekend, giving them a shot at reaching bowl eligibility. With upcoming games against Florida State and Clemson, plus injury issues, there's no room for error. In this projection, though, I think they'll land one of the extra bowl slots awarded to the ACC, and be able to stay in-state for a postseason opportunity.

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