Part III of this preview shall entail the ACC title game, along with where in blazes I think everyone's headed for the holidays.
ACC Championship Game
Predicted division winners Florida State and Georgia Tech will meet up for the second ACC Championship Game on Dec. 2, 2006 in Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, FL, for a berth in the Orange Bowl. This will be the first meeting of the schools since conference expansion, with the last matchup resulting in a thrilling come-from behind 14-13 Seminole victory in 2003.
Look for the Seminole defense to become the story in this game, much like the 2005 ACC title game against Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech will be a more battle-tested group than last year's Hokie squad, but this FSU defense - as well as the rest of the Nole team - will be miles ahead of their 2005 counterparts, so look for Bobby Bowden's boys to notch a 27-17 victory.
The Seminoles will have a Ball in Jacksonville
Now that we have projected the ACC title game result, next on the ACC Preview to-do list is to educationally guess where the other bowl-eligible squads head for the holidays.
But first, now that the geniuses in the league offices figured out an actual bowl pecking order - just two years after the expansion, mind you - allow me to list and explain the bowl selection order:
1. Orange (ACC Champ, if ACC Champ is not in the BCS Championship Game) - Miami, FL (Jan. 2, 2007)
1a. Possible BCS at-large selection
2. Chik-Fil-A - Atlanta, GA (Dec. 30, 2006)
3. Gator - Jacksonville, FL (Jan. 1, 2007)
4. Champs Sports - Orlando, FL (De. 29, 2006)
5. Music City - Nashville, TN (Dec. 29, 2006)
6. Meineke Car Care - Charlotte, NC (Dec. 30, 2006)
7. Emerald - San Francisco, CA (Dec. 27, 2006)
8. MPC Computers - Boise, ID (Dec. 31, 2006)
Now that said, 1 thru 4 and then 8 are set in stone as to pecking order. Technically, 5 thru 7 can pick whomever they want provided they all agree; however if, say, the Music City and the Emerald both want Maryland, then Music City gets the pick. I know, why not just have the rule set in stone? Beats me. Another rule in the selection process is that the higher bowls cannot pick Team B (i.e. NC State '05) over Team A (i.e. Boston College '05), if Team A has 2 more league victories than does Team B. Basically, this whole pecking order was designed to make sure that a co-division champ doesn't get exiled to Boise. It doesn't mean that a team like 2005 Boston College gets one of the top 4 bowls; it just means they won't get the crappiest of the ACC bowls.
So, that nauseating rule explanation aside, allow me to post my 2006 ACC bowl picks:
1. Orange (ACC Champ vs. BCS): Florida State vs. Louisville
1a. Sugar (BCS vs. SEC Champ): Clemson vs. Auburn
2. Chik-Fil-A (ACC vs. SEC): Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee
3. Gator (ACC vs. Big XII, Big East, or Notre Dame): Miami vs. West Virginia
4. Champs Sports (ACC vs. Big Ten #4 or #5): Virginia Tech vs. Penn State
5. Music City (ACC vs. SEC): Boston College vs. South Carolina
6. Meineke Car Care (ACC vs. Big East or Navy): North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh
7. Emerald (ACC vs. Pac 10 #5): Maryland vs. Arizona
8. MPC Computers (ACC vs. WAC): Wake Forest vs. Fresno State
I was going to compile an All-ACC squad, but never mind. It's been done pretty well here and here. I've got three days before the season starts, so I'll give y'all my Top 25 tomorrow and then it's....drumroll....My Week 1 Preview. Be ready.