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Week 14 ACC Bowl Projections — Final Destination

The regular season is over, with Syracuse finishing 7-5 after a season finale victory against Boston College and awaiting its bowl destination. Ahead of the ACC Championship Game that will decide whether Clemson or UNC plays in the Orange Bowl, let's take a look at the rest of the conference and where teams could end up playing in the postseason.

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. Let's get down to predictions.

Clemson

Final record: 10-2

Result: Orange Bowl vs. Tennessee

Reasoning: Following a loss to South Carolina, Clemson is effectively out of College Football Playoff contention. But, the Tigers should still be favored to win the ACC. As a result of the latest CFP Top 25 Rankings with Alabama ahead of Tennessee, the Crimson Tide will slot into the Sugar Bowl as the Volunteers land in the Orange Bowl against the ACC champion.

North Carolina

Final record: 9-3

Result: Holiday Bowl vs. Oregon

Reasoning: This is the same projection as last week, but against a different PAC 12 team following Utah's PAC 12 Championship berth and Oregon's road loss to rival Oregon State. The Tar Heels have lost two straight home games heading into the ACC Championship Game, but they still get a good draw against another brand name program in the Ducks.

Florida State

Final record: 9-3

Result: Cheez-It Bowl vs. Texas Tech

Reasoning: This is the same bowl projection as last week for the Seminoles, but facing a different team following Texas Tech's win against Oklahoma. Florida State has been on fire to end the regular season, riding a 5-game win streak 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

Final record: 8-4

Result: Gator Bowl vs. South Carolina

Reasoning: This is the same projection as last week, but against a different team. As noted, Notre Dame 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 Florida to take on one of the SEC's hottest teams in South Carolina, who entered the CFP Top 25 Rankings after beating Tennessee and Clemson — the likely Orange Bowl participants.

North Carolina State

Final record: 8-4

Result: Duke's Mayo Bowl vs. Maryland

Reasoning: The Wolfpack ended their season on a dramatic, high note, beating rival UNC on the road in overtime. NC State ended up returning to the CFP Top 25 Rankings and land in a spot I've previously predicted them at before. This Charlotte-based bowl game would likely have a home crowd feel to it for the Wolfpack.

Duke

Final record: 8-4

Result: Fenway Bowl vs. East Carolina

Reasoning: The Blue Devils head up to Boston for a bowl game against an in-state rival in East Carolina. Duke could arguably be picked for a higher-slot bowl after their surprise season, but I could see the ACC sending them here based on matchup and brand popularity.

Pittsburgh

Final record: 8-4

Result: Sun Bowl vs. Oregon State

Reasoning: The Panthers ended up finishing the season as one of the hotter teams in the ACC, winning each of their last four games. They'll take on Oregon State, a team squarely in the CFP Top 25 Rankings after its victory against rival Oregon. While this game doesn't necessarily benefit either team geographically, this should be an interesting matchup between two talented defenses.

Syracuse

Final record: 7-5

Result: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Minnesota

Reasoning: This prediction comes after Syracuse reportedly asked the ACC to consider not sending the team to the Fenway Bowl. The Orange ended a 5-game losing skid with a comeback victory against Boston College, and it makes sense that the Orange wouldn't want to travel back to Boston for two straight games. That's why I'll place the Orange in the Pinstripe Bowl in my final projections. This bowl game makes the most sense for several reasons. Geographically, Syracuse gets to stay in New York and has a big alumni base in the Big Apple. The program also has history in this bowl game, having won the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl back in 2010 and then again in 2012, but it has been a decade since the Orange appeared in this particular event. Minnesota is one of the few Big Ten teams to have not yet played in the Pinstripe Bowl, so it would make sense to send them to the Bronx this year. Overall, this looks like a solid matchup that should generate a good-sized crowd.

Louisville

Final record: 7-5

Result: Military Bowl vs. Cincinnati

Reasoning: These longtime rivals have been on hiatus in football since 2013, when "The Keg of Nails" trophy was last won by the Cardinals. This bowl game would be a great opportunity to renew the rivalry between the programs and be a fun contest between two teams that were in the CFP Top 25 rankings before this past weekend's results. Both teams are coming off deflating losses, but this one could shape up to be a pretty fun contest.

Wake Forest

Final record: 7-5

Result: Gasparilla Bowl vs. UCF

Reasoning: The Demon Deacons, despite their high-powered offense, finished the lowest in the ACC standings among bowl-qualifying teams with a 3-5 conference record to end the regular season, which is why I have them heading to this Tampa-based bowl game. Since this game has had at least one Florida-based participant in each of the last four years, I have Wake playing against a ranked UCF team here, who may end up qualifying for the Cotton Bowl instead if they win the AAC Championship Game.

Teams not eligible for a bowl game: Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Boston College