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Monday, November 16, 2009
Race to 10 in the ACC

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

This came up on the chat earlier today, and I had to double check it because it seemed surprising, but six teams in the ACC have a chance to finish the season with 10 wins. (Technically, the most the ACC could have would be five, because BC and UNC both still have to play each other and would need to win out to reach 10 wins.) Still, even four teams with 10 wins would be unprecedented. It's so difficult to do, I have a hard time believing even three teams would finish with 10 wins. It's only happened once in the history of the ACC.

Since 1953, only once has the conference had as many as three teams finish with 10 wins each. In 2006, Wake Forest, Boston College and Virginia Tech all hit the mark. In 1991, the last time Clemson won the ACC title, the Tigers finished with nine wins. Nobody in the conference had 10 that year.

If the ACC could manage to finish the season with three 10-win teams, it would be a great accomplishment for the conference, which right now only has five teams with winning records in conference play. Only half the conference has winning records, period. Georgia Tech has already racked up 10 wins, but here are the 7-3 teams within reach:

Clemson -- Needs wins over Virginia, South Carolina and in the ACC title game, or can reach it by beating Virginia, winning the ACC championship and then the Orange Bowl. There's some margin for error in there with a loss to South Carolina.

Boston College -- Needs wins over North Carolina, Maryland, and in the bowl game.

Virginia Tech -- Needs wins over NC State, Virginia and in the bowl game.

Miami -- Needs wins over Duke, South Florida, and in the bowl game.

North Carolina -- Needs wins over BC, NC State and in the bowl game.

Of all of those scenarios, I'd say Virginia Tech (which has had five straight 10-win seasons), Miami and UNC have the best chance to pull it off, in that order. Even if Clemson were to manage the upset over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game (and that's assuming the Tigers don't implode Saturday against Virginia), possible losses to South Carolina and in the Orange Bowl leave room for doubt. And BC, which hasn't lost at home yet this season, has shown weaknesses on offense that this UNC defense will eat up on Saturday. Who knows what might happen when UNC and NC State square off, though. I think Miami and UNC can both win out the regular season, but can they win their bowl games? That's where the ACC has historically tripped up. Whether or not the conference can perform better in the postseason will determine how many 10-win teams the ACC can produce. History, though, says usually no more than one or two.