Item: The ACC has enjoyed the fruits of the College Football Playoff the last three seasons thanks to league champs Florida State and Clemson making the four-team CFP postseason. That in turn has led to the next highest ranked conference team appearing in the Orange Bowl as part of the rotating six bowl games hosting the CFP semifinal doubleheaders. There’s a whopping 36 bowl games outside of the CFP so it’s simple; with a minimum of six wins, as was the case with the 2013 Texas Bowl, the Orange will find a soft postseason landing spot somewhere.
Is the ACC the best conference in college football heading into the 2017 season? It’s hard to argue with the defending champion Clemson, a couple of Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks among many NFL first round draft picks over the last four years, a stellar ’16 bowl game record, and quality head coaching throughout the two divisions.
If preseason conference champion Florida State lives up to that billing and makes a trip to the College Football Playoff, the next highest ranked ACC team will play in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens. If the opponent in the Orange Bowl is from the Big Ten, and last season Florida State edged Michigan 33-32, then the essential No. 3 ACC team would play in the Camping World Bowl, at Orlando against a Big 12 opponent.
After that there is a bowl game pecking order. The so-called “Tier One” games are listed by the conference as having “equal selection status” and they comprise the Belk (Charlotte-SEC), Sun (El Paso-Pac 12), Pinstripe (New York-Big Ten) and either the Music City (Nashville-Big Ten/SEC) or TaxSlayer (Jacksonville-Big Ten/SEC) games.
Then comes the “Tier Two” matchups with up to five spots that are in the following selection order: Military (Annapolis-AAC), Independence (Shreveport, La.-SEC), Quick Lane (Detroit-Big Ten), and if certain scenarios play out secondary bowl choices St Petersburg (St. Petersburg-AAC/C-USA) and Birmingham (Birmingham-SEC/AAC).
Whether it’s the day after Christmas in downtown Detroit, or another late December weekday afternoon affair somewhere such as northern Louisiana, Maryland’s capital city “Naptown,” or even back to Yankee Stadium for a third time in the last eight seasons, the final destination will not matter.
If Dino Babers continues to take care of business as he molds the program with his speed culture, the wins will come and with a minimum goal of two more victories off of last season’s 4-8 finish, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic that there will be one more road trip to make somewhere at the conclusion of the upcoming season.