11/15 – Tracking our Most Likely Teams
Following last week’s games and our discussions in our Team Selection meeting Monday night, I’m going to make just a couple of changes to our short list for this week.
In the ACC, there is a possibility that both Florida State and Clemson will make it into the BCS, so we may need to add another team to consider. For right now, that team will be NC State.
As far as the SEC, the monumental win Texas A&M earned on the road at Alabama sets them up for a very special season and a possible BCS bowl berth – so we’ll leave them off our list for this week.
With two weeks to go, and some key rivalry games still to be played, there could still be a lot of movement in the bowl projections for the teams we are scouting. Remember, each week teams have the chance to play their way into our game, or play their way out of it.
Here’s this week’s list and notes for the teams that are the most likely right now.
IN THE ACC (in alphabetical order):
Quite an offensive display put on by the #11 Tigers (9-1, 6-1 ACC) against the Terps. At one point, Clemson actually scored twice in 12 seconds. Now that’s offensive! The Tigers now have a streak of nine straight games of scoring 37 points or more, placing them 6th in the nation with 42.9 per game. They’ll have to get by NC State this week (always a tough game) and the rival Gamecocks to close out the season. If they are available after the BCS selections, it could mean a return trip to Atlanta.
Duke / Georgia Tech winner
Huge Coastal match-up this week for both Duke and Georgia Tech. Not knowing right now what Miami will elect to do with their post-season ban, this game could be to determine who represents the division in the ACC Championship. So, if you play that out, this game could also be for a leg up to see which of the two teams has a shot at making it into this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. We’ll certainly be scouting this game this week with a lot of interest.
The #10 Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC) still control their own destiny with a path straight to the BCS and the Orange Bowl if they win out. E.J. Manuel will take his 2,641 passing yards and his 19 TDs on the road to Maryland this week where a win will lock in the division title. But as a college football fan, I can’t help but look ahead to the epic battle against #6 Florida in the most meaningful game in that series in a long, long time. A slip against the Terps or against Duke, Georgia Tech or Miami in Charlotte could possibly get the Seminoles to Atlanta.
The Hurricanes sit tied with Georgia Tech in the division, but hold the tie-breaker thanks to their 42-36 overtime win against the Yellow Jackets back on Sept. 22. Miami will also have a chance to earn the same advantage against Duke after they take on in-state foe South Florida on Saturday. This one is pretty straight forward. Win the next two and play for an ACC title. Lose against Duke, and the ‘Canes may elect to sit this post-season out. A berth in the ACC Championship Game and a loss there puts them on our board.
We loved having the Wolfpack to open the season in our Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game this year and we can project a path that gets them back to Atlanta to end the season as well. Let me be clear on this: NC State’s appearance in our Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game will have no affect at all on whether or not we would select them for the Bowl game. If they are in position, we will take them. And their win against a then third-ranked Florida State team looms as a point of differentiation for the Wolfpack.
IN THE SEC (in alphabetical order):
The #7 LSU Tigers (8-2, 4-2 SEC) are probably the best 8-win team in the country and somehow seem to be quietly and matter-of-factly headed to another 10-win season. With six SEC teams in the top 10 in the nation, there should be plenty of great teams to go around for all of the SEC’s bowl partners. That’s a win-win for everybody, including us, and all that remains is to see where each team ends up. If LSU is there for us, we’ll give them a good look at making them the highest-ranked SEC team to play here since #6 Tennessee in 2003.
The Bulldogs (7-3, 3-3 SEC) remain on the short list even after a third straight loss. With MSU, you have to look at the big picture. Remember, this team started 7-0 and were ranked as high as #11 before they got into the meat of their divisional schedule, which, by the way, is the toughest in college football. A pair of wins to close it out against Arkansas and Ole Miss will probably get the Bulldogs ranked again and put them in great position for a trip to Atlanta.
The #9 Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) have wrapped up their SEC schedule with only two losses (both to top-10 teams Florida and LSU) and are still a team capable of beating anybody at any time. The big question is this: Can South Carolina win on the road against rival Clemson to get to 10 wins? That game will be huge and will have equally big implications on the Gamecocks bowl destination – including a shot at returning to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Tracking to our 16th straight sellout
Consider this your warning: Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets are getting scarce. Less than 1,000 tickets remain as of Nov. 14, so if you think your team is headed here, you need to purchase now before we reach our 16th straight sellout. By the time we name the teams, the tickets will be all but gone. To order, call 404-586-8499 or visit our online ticket store: http://www.chick-fil-abowl.com/Tickets/BowlGameTickets.aspx
On the Road
We’ll be scouting four more games this week – two in each conference – as we continue to track the schools on our short list. We’ll release those games on Twitter.
Remember to follow our scouts on Twitter (@chickfilabowl) to see what they see on campus. Lots of great insight from behind the scenes!
ESPN (Schlabach): NC State vs. South Carolina
CBS Sports: NC State vs. Florida
Sporting News: Miami vs. South Carolina