The strange 2012 season has produced only six bowl eligible teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference – NC State’s 7-5 (4-4 in the ACC) record qualifies us as one of them. And, Clemson’s loss to South Carolina last night helped shake the bowl picture into focus.
The following is the order of selection for ACC teams:
(1) Discover Orange Jan. 1 / 8:30 p.m. Miami, Fla. BCS vs. BCS ESPN
(2) Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 / 7:30 p.m. Atlanta, Ga. ACC vs. SEC ESPN
(3) Russell Athletic Dec. 28 / 5:30 p.m. Orlando, Fla. ACC vs. Big East ESPN
(4) Hyundai Sun Bowl Dec. 31 / 2 p.m. El Paso, Texas ACC vs. Pac-12 CBS
(5) Belk Dec. 27 / 6:30 p.m. Charlotte, N.C. ACC vs. Big East ESPN
(6) Franklin American Mortgage Music City Dec. 31 / 12 p.m. Nashville, Tenn. SEC vs. ACC ESPN
A couple of truths you need to understand that will help frame the Wolfpack’s options and ultimate destination.
- Clemson will not be eligible to take an addition spot for the ACC in a BCS bowl
- Georgia Tech’s record insures that they cannot fall any further than the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
- The Belk Bowl has held the position in the past that Duke would be a great fit for Charlotte if the Blue Devils were ever bowl eligible. Additionally, NC State played in Charlotte last year making the Wolfpack a low likelihood for a return visit.
Unless the Russell Athletic Bowl pulls a surprise and throws a curve by selecting Georgia Tech, the parameters discussed above make it pretty clear that NC State will end up in either the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando or the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
Ultimately, the Russell Athletic will probably choose between NC State and Virginia Tech. The Wolfpack has played in four of the last twelve Champs/Russell Athletic Bowls, most recently in a 23-7 win over West Virginia in 2010. Virginia Tech has never played in the bowl. This would lead to the presumption that the Hokies will probably go to Orlando and the Wolfpack would slot to the Music City Bowl to battle an SEC opponent of the ilk of Ole Miss, Mississippi State and/or Vanderbilt.
Speaking of Vanderbilt, the NC State blog Backing the Pack has taken a little deeper look at that scenario in this entry.
Funny thing about that Music City Bowl possibility. There is a decent chance that James Franklin’s Vanderbilt team ends up being NC State’s opponent, if that is in fact where the Pack goes. Franklin and NCSU athletics director Debbie Yow have a relationship dating back to their respective tenures at Maryland, and Franklin would be her first phone call if and when Tom O’Brien’s tenure in Raleigh comes to an end. TOB knows this. So I’m sure this potential bowl matchup would not be awkward at all.