The hopes of two Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the College Football Playoff are officially over. After Louisville got embarrassed in Houston last week, they fell six spots in the rankings to 11th. It seems Clemson is the conference’s lone hope of getting in. Ranked 4th for the second week in a row, the Tigers should be returning to the CFP if they win out. Florida State is the third and final ranked member in the conference. The Seminoles moved up two spots, to 14th, after beating Syracuse last week.
Let’s take a look at the three ranked teams and their CFP and Bowl hopes.
No. 4 Clemson (10-1,7-1)
Last Week: 4
South Carolina (6-5, 3-5 SEC)
ACC Championship – Virginia Tech or North Carolina
The Tigers rebounded after being upset by Pittsburgh, with a convincing 35 – 13 victory over Wake Forest. With that win, Clemson wrapped up the ACC Atlantic division and will play in the conference championship. If Clemson can hold strong against the in-state rival Gamecocks, and repeat as ACC champs, there will be no doubt that they are a top 4 team.
The concern is for the ACC is that if Clemson somehow stumbles in their rivalry game, or in the title game, the ACC will be on the outside of the College Football Playoff for the first time in its existence. A Tigers loss will also send the other ranked teams potential bowl selections into a tailspin.
What they need to do to get in:
Win out and they are in. Slip up once and they are out.
No. 11 Louisville
Last Week: 5
Kentucky (6-5, 4-4 SEC)
The Cardinals were a very upset bunch last Tuesday when the rankings were released and they were outside the top 4. Well, they needed to take of business last Thursday down in Houston and were absolutely roasted, 36-10. They fell six spots to 11th and now are just hoping for a New Years Six bowl.
They will need to show they can rebound after a humbling defeat, and win convincingly against Kentucky, and hope Clemson doesn’t falter at all. As long as Clemson goes to the CFP and the Cardinals beat the Wildcats, they will get a trip to the Capital One Orange Bowl. A convincing victory in that game will give head coach Bobby Petrino’s program a boost. Louisville is still fairly young and Heisman front-runner Lamar Jackson will be returning next season. A strong showing the rest of the way will see Louisville in the upper part of the preseason rankings next season and keep them in the national spotlight.
No. 14 Florida State (8-3,5-3)
Last Week: 17
Florida (8-2, 6-2 SEC)
The Seminoles continued their dominance of the weaker part of the ACC with their blowout win over Syracuse. Now, a matchup with their bitter rival, the Florida Gators, looms ahead. When the Gators travel to Tallahassee, it will be a matchup of the 14th and 15th ranked teams. If the Seminoles can beat their in-state neighbor for the fourth straight year, look for them to represent the ACC in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. They could also sneak into the Capital One Orange Bowl, if Louisville loses to Kentucky.
A loss to the Gators could knock the Seminoles out of the top 25 with four losses. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has been trying to rebuild his team’s confidence since getting steamrolled by Louisville earlier in the season. Much like the Cardinals, winning out in convincing fashion could build momentum for a team that is young on defense and returning their starting quarterback Deondre Francois next season.