With three weeks remaining in the regular season, Georgia Tech remains alive for the ACC Coastal Division title. By the calculations of ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Yellow Jackets’ chances to win the division for the fifth time improved from six percent to 10 percent after the weekend’s games, which included their 38-28 win at North Carolina on Saturday afternoon and Virginia Tech’s home loss to Boston College later that evening.
The first condition that the Jackets have to meet is to win their two remaining ACC games, a home night game this Saturday against Miami and at home against Virginia on Nov. 17 to finish at 5-3 in league play. (ESPN gives that outcome a probability of 37 percent.)
The next would be for the three Coastal teams with fewer than three losses – Pittsburgh (4-1), Virginia (4-2) and Virginia Tech (3-2) to finish no better than 5-3. Duke at 2-3 taking another loss would help, too, as the Blue Devils own a tiebreaker over the Jackets. (Duke plays at No. 2 Clemson in two weeks. Prognosis: Grim.) Miami is also 2-3 and would finish behind Tech in the Jackets-win-out scenario.
Georgia Tech can also take care of Virginia getting a third loss with its head-to-head meeting in two Saturdays, a result that would also give the Jackets a tiebreaker over the Cavaliers. Virginia Tech concludes with a road game at Pittsburgh this Saturday, home against Miami and home against Virginia.
Pitt holds the most control at this point. ESPN gives the Panthers a 42 percent chance of winning, followed by Virginia Tech at 19 percent, Miami at 16 percent, Virginia at 14 percent and the Jackets at the aforementioned 10 percent. (Warning: Percentages add up to 101.)
Two wins in Pitt’s final three – against Virginia Tech, at Wake Forest and at Miami – will assure them of its first ACC Coastal title, and also would make the Panthers the sixth different team to represent the division in the ACC title game in six years, which has never happened in FBS’ short history of conferences with two divisions.
As for Georgia Tech, here’s the deal: Besides finishing at 5-3, the Jackets also need Virginia Tech to beat Pitt on the road this Saturday. A Pitt win over the Hokies would ensure a 5-3 record at worst for Pitt, and there does not appear to be a tiebreaker scenario that the Jackets can win over the Panthers. Certainly they can’t win a two-team tie with Pitt, as head-to-head competition is the first tiebreaker and the Jackets lost to the Panthers Sept. 15 in Pittsburgh.
But, in the different scenarios in which Tech could tie with Pitt and also Virginia, Duke or Virginia Tech or any combination thereof, the Jackets would not be able to emerge with the championship.
However, Pitt finishing at 5-3 with a loss to Virginia Tech is a different story. In that case, it’s conceivable that the Jackets could advance to the ACC title game out of a three-, four- or five-team tiebreaker. After head-to-head record among three or more tied teams, the next tiebreaker is division record.
So, for example, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech could tie at 5-3 with 1-1 records against each other. The next tiebreaker would be division record. If the Panthers get to 5-3 by losing to Virginia Tech and Miami and beating Wake Forest, their division record would be 3-3. Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech’s would both be 4-2, eliminating Pitt and then making it a two-team tiebreaker, which the Jackets would win by virtue of their win in Blacksburg, Va.
There’s other outcomes, but for simplicity’s sake, Pitt at 4-4 would be much easier for the Jackets’ purposes.
For now, Tech fans can cheer for the Jackets beat Miami and Virginia and for Virginia Tech to beat Pitt.
From Friday: Trying to make sense of Coastal Chaos
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