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Sunday, November 13, 2011
ACC maintains presence in top 10

By Heather Dinich

» BCS standings reaction: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC | Non-AQ

For the second straight week, the ACC has two teams ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings: No. 7 Clemson and No. 8 Virginia Tech. Florida State made its first appearance of the season, sneaking in at No. 25, and Georgia Tech has fallen out.

It's outstanding for the ACC to have this kind of representation at the top of the BCS standings, and the league will benefit even more from it if these two teams wind up meeting again in the ACC championship game on Dec. 3 in Charlotte, N.C. Clemson has already clinched the Atlantic Division and Virginia Tech has the lead in the Coastal Division race. For the ACC to feature two top-10 teams in its ACC title game would be a major boost in the relevance, image and nationwide interest in the game. And there's little doubt college football fans can expect a better performance from the Hokies than what they saw in the regular season matchup, which Clemson won, 23-3.

For those wondering if Boise State's loss can help the ACC get its first at-large bid to a BCS bowl, ESPN.com's experts still have other teams standing in the way. ESPN's BCS guru, Brad Edwards, doesn't even have Clemson or Virginia Tech listed anywhere besides the Discover Orange Bowl in his latest BCS pecking order Insider. The Fiesta Bowl gets an at-large bid, and Edwards' top candidates are Stanford, Michigan and Nebraska. In the Sugar Bowl, Edwards lists Houston, followed by Southern Miss, TCU and West Virginia. There are reasons for all of this, and the selection process is part of it.

Some background and explanation from Edwards for you:

Because the Big East champ is not going to be ranked in the top 16, the highest-ranked non-AQ conference champion that ends up in the top 16 will get an automatic BCS bid. Houston is now at the front of the line following Boise State's loss, but Southern Miss still has the opportunity to take them out in the Conference USA championship game.

TCU is also still alive, as the Horned Frogs will almost certainly end up winning the Mountain West. This is why even though Boise might end the season ranked ahead of several or all of these teams, the Broncos won't get a BCS bid, because they won't be a league champion.

Remember, the Fiesta is going to use the final at-large pick. Once it gets to the Sugar, there will be two teams left on the board: the non-AQ qualifier and the Big East champion. Unless that Big East champ is West Virginia, the Sugar is likely to take the BCS buster.