Preseason College Football Rankings 2011: Ranking ACC Teams' Bowl Chances
This could be the year that the ACC finally turns around its collective bad performances in bowl games, as it looks like the conference will be home to some of the strongest teams in the nation.
Since the advent of the Bowl Championship Series in 1998, the Atlantic Coast Conference has sent 13 teams to a BCS game.
Those teams have compiled a collective 2-11 record in BCS games, the worst winning percentage of any of the six power conferences. Along with the Big East, the ACC is one of two power conferences to not produce any at-large bids to a BCS game.
However, the ACC looks to have at least three very strong teams this season in Florida State, Virginia Tech and Miami, and some of the lower-tier teams have strong bowl chances as well.
It's entirely possible that we could see up to eight or nine ACC teams make a bowl game this season.
Duke, Wake Forest and Virginia Have Very Little Chance of Making a Bowl Game
With all due respect to Duke Blue Devils fans, Wake Forest Demon Deacons fans and Virginia Cavaliers fan, these teams are just not strong enough to merit consideration for a bowl game this season.
Each of these three teams went 1-7 in conference last season, and I'd be lying if I said that those records would improve very much this season.
Of the three, I would put Virginia's bowl chances ahead of the other two, since their non-conference schedule includes BCS conference lightweight Indiana, along with Southern Miss, William & Mary and Idaho.
Meanwhile, Duke faces an extremely tough Stanford team, and Wake Forest has to deal with Notre Dame.
Clemson and Boston College Have a 50-50 Chance of Making a Bowl Game
Both Clemson and Boston College finished the regular season with 4-4 conference records last season.
Clemson finished with a final record of 6-7, while Boston College was 7-6.
I think they can both improve on those records this season. Clemson faces Troy, Wofford, Auburn and South Carolina outside the ACC while Boston College's out-of-conference schedule includes Northwestern, UCF, UMass and Notre Dame.
If either one of them can go 3-1 in their out-of-conference schedule, they stand a very good chance at making a bowl game. Even if they go 2-2 like last year, beating the cupcakes while losing to the higher-ranked teams, they both stand a pretty good chance of accomplishing the feat this season.
Maryland, North Carolina, NC State and Georgia Tech Will Make Bowl Games
These four teams are all very strong, but are currently a notch below the class of the conference.
North Carolina has the best chance to jump up into the top three teams in the conference and if Virginia Tech or Miami falter, could very well represent the Coastal Division in the ACC title game.
Georgia Tech could also be a dark horse because their out-of-conference schedule is extremely weak; they play Western Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas and Georgia outside the ACC.
Being that Florida State is the strongest team in the conference, I'm not as optimistic on Maryland or North Carolina State's ACC championship aspirations.
Each of these teams should be able to finish at or above .500 this season and will almost certainly garner bowl invitations.
Miami and Virginia Tech Have a Shot at a BCS Game
Miami had a subpar season last year and it resulted in the firing of Randy Shannon and the hiring of new head coach Al Golden. Golden is coming into one of the ACC's strongest rosters and one that severely underachieved last season.
Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division yet again last year and looks to be in line for another appearance in the ACC Championship Game this season. Frank Beamer always has his team ready to go and this team will likely be extremely strong again this year.
However, if Miami can pass an early season test against Ohio State, it could propel them to a big season and they could possibly appear in their first ACC Championship Game.
Either one of these teams has a fighter's chance against Florida State in the title game if that's who they meet, and a better than good chance to defeat anyone else who might represent the Atlantic Division.
Florida State Should Make a BCS Game, and Could Make the National Championship
Florida State looks to be the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference this year and should represent the ACC in a BCS game this season.
If they can defeat the Oklahoma Sooners in Week 3, the Seminoles could very well be national championship-bound.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher led his team to an excellent season in his first year on the job, and more of the same should be expected this year.
Armed with a strong defense and an up-and-coming quarterback in young E.J. Manuel, the Noles have a good chance to do big things.