Tech’s best-case scenario would require Clemson to win the ACC title over Virginia Tech next Saturday and make the College Football Playoff. In this instance, if No. 14 Florida State were to beat No. 15 Florida Saturday night, that would likely put the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl, presuming they jump No. 11 Louisville, which lost to Kentucky.
The next pick belongs to the Citrus Bowl, which is contracted to take an ACC team if the Orange Bowl opponent is from the Big Ten, which appears a near certainty. In this scenario, Louisville looks like the probable choice. Selecting next, the Russell Athletic Bowl would probably take Virginia Tech at 9-4, giving the Hokies a loss in the ACC title game. There is the matter that, after going to the ACC title game in Orlando, Fla., which was moved there from Charlotte after the conference pulled its championships out of the state of North Carolina in response to the state’s “HB2” law, Hokies fans would be going to Orlando for the second time in less than a month.
That would leave Pittsburgh, Miami, North Carolina and Georgia Tech as eight-win teams to be divided up between the ACC’s four “Tier One” bowls – Belk, Pinstripe (New York), Sun (El Paso, Texas) and TaxSlayer (Jacksonville, Fla.).
Of the aforementioned four teams, Pitt and UNC are on the Sun Bowl’s wish list, but the Pinstripe Bowl, which often goes with regional selections, may push hard for the Panthers, sending the Tar Heels to El Paso. Teams in the TaxSlayer Bow’s sights include Miami and North Carolina, making the Hurricanes a match. That would send Tech to Charlotte for its first-ever appearance in the Belk Bowl and its third SEC matchup of the season.
The Belk (and previous iterations) has usually included a regional participant. It has invited a team from either the state of North Carolina or a contiguous state for 13 out of its 14 years, including Georgia in 2014. Potential opponents include Arkansas, LSU and Texas A&M, according to projections.
It’s possible that the Belk could stay in-state with Wake Forest, which has not been to a bowl game since 2011, but the Demon Deacons lost to Boston College Saturday to drop to 6-6. N.C. State would also seem a match, but the Wolfpack went there last year and are 6-6.