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Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Looking ahead in the ACC


Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich

Although an unusual amount of key conference games have already been played in the ACC, both the Atlantic and Coastal divisions remain wide open. All Virginia Tech needs is a Georgia Tech loss (and to keep winning), and the Hokies are back in it. Even if Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech all win out and finish with 7-1 conference records, the human element can factor into the final BCS standings and cause changes in where the ACC’s top two teams are ranked based on their margin of victory.

The bottom line? Nothing is certain right now. But I’ve got a few predictions coming for you today as we spin forward and look at the second half of the season. The broad prediction is this: The conference race will not need a three-way tiebreaker, and the ACC will not repeat last year’s NCAA-record 10 bowl-eligible teams. In fact, it’s possible the conference could wind up with only six or seven teams in the postseason, leaving openings in a few of the nine guaranteed slots. The teams on the fringe are NC State, North Carolina, Duke and Virginia. The teams I think are definitely home for Christmas are Maryland and Florida State.

Stay tuned throughout the day for a team-by-team breakdown of what to expect in the second half of the season and bowl predictions for each team.