The ACC Championship Game won’t determine the best two teams in the conference; the game between the ACC’s top two teams already happened, back in September.
Florida State and Clemson, clearly the class of the conference, faced each other in late September, and the outcome of that game, a 49-37 Florida State win, is the reason the ‘Noles, not the Tigers, are in the title game.
The Tar Heels technically won the division but are serving an NCAA-mandated postseason ban. The second place team, Miami, has self-imposed a postseason ban in an attempt to minimize the damage from the NCAA’s investigation into former booster Nevin Shapiro.
That leaves the 6-6 Yellow Jackets, who had to petition for special consideration for a bowl game should they lose this weekend and finish the season with a losing record.
Last season, UCLA was in a similar position. After receiving permission to play in a bowl game, the Bruins lost the inaugural Pac-12 Championship (they won the South division because USC was ineligible) and proceeded to a minor bowl, which the team lost.
The Yellow Jackets seem to be on a similar track, though they made a bit of a turnaround in the second half of the year. Georgia Tech started the year 2-4 but went on a four-game winning streak that lasted until the rivalry game against Georgia.
Georgia Tech and Florida State are both coming off losses in last week’s rivalry games. The Yellow Jackets were stomped by UGA, while FSU lost a heartbreaker to the Florida Gators.
The ‘Noles, who lead the ACC in total defense and scoring defense, will be dangerous this weekend as they attempt to bounce back.
The rivalry week hangover could be a factor, though. Florida State is a two touchdown favorite over the Dawgs, but they’ll be without their leading tackler, Tank Carradine, who suffered a season-ending injury against the Gators.
Georgia Tech is no pushover on offense, either. The Yellow Jackets’ unique style of offense always makes them a tricky opponent; their defense is giving up way too many points, but the offense has made up for it, averaging 40 points per game against ACC opponents. Tech will likely be without leading rusher Orwin Smith, who suffered an ankle injury two weeks ago, but GT has other weapons, including senior quarterback Tevin Washington, who leads the team with 18 rushing touchdowns.
It has the potential to be a surprisingly good game, but No. 13 Florida State vs. unranked Georgia Tech also has the opportunity to become a painful blowout.