The ACC is the only BCS conference in the country without a bowl eligible team upon the release of the first Bowl Championship Series standings. While it’s only the midpoint of the college football season, the league is starting at a distinction that isn’t pretty.
That being said, three teams — Florida State, Clemson, Duke — can punch their bowl eligibility ticket this weekend. Florida State faces a road test at Miami, Clemson hosts Virginia Tech, and Duke hosts North Carolina.
While the bowl eligibility process is largely dictated by bye weeks, scheduling and television contracts that dictate when and where a team will play their slate of games, the fact that the Big East has two bowl eligible squads already — Louisville and Rutgers — is something ACC fans probably couldn’t fathom when Clemson and Florida State squared off in Tallahassee last month.
The issue isn’t when or how many bowl teams the ACC will send around the country in a few months, but where they rank among the big conferences in the nation. Through this point of the season, an honest observation has to land the ACC last among BCS conferences. Factoring in BCS Title contenders, top tier teams, and respectable bottom feeders, it’s not difficult to objectively rank the ACC behind the SEC, Big 12, Pac-12, Big East, and Big Ten.
Much can change from now through January, but it’s probably going to take a surprisingly strong bowl season for the ACC to rescue themselves from an underwhelming season in the national scope.