Georgia Tech’s win over Clemson got the attention of our nation’s bowl projection specialists, for whatever that is worth. Of the nine included here, six are slotting the Yellow Jackets for the Orange Bowl as the ACC representative, anticipating a) Florida State winning the ACC and being selected for the College Football Playoff or b) Tech reaching the ACC title game by virtue of another Duke loss and beating Florida State. (My guess is most are putting their money on the first scenario.)
Here’s one thing to note about Tech and the Orange Bowl: If the Jackets beat Georgia Nov. 29 in Athens, they are virtually guaranteed to play in the Orange for the first time since 2009 and just the second time since coach Bobby Dodd’s final season, in 1966, so long as Florida State wins the ACC at 13-0. (The Seminoles still have to play Boston College and Florida.) The fly in this ointment would be Florida State losing one or both of its remaining regular-season games, which would knock the Seminoles out of College Football Playoff contention and put them in the Orange if they were to win the ACC. Of course, Tech can remove all doubt by winning the ACC, which would require Duke to lose either Thursday to North Carolina or Nov. 29 to Wake Forest.
The ACC’s Orange opponent is the highest-ranked non-champion from the Big Ten, SEC or Notre Dame. At this point, that’s a tough call. Mississippi State is the second SEC team at No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings, but at No. 4 the Bulldogs would be selected for the playoff. After Mississippi State, Ole Miss is the next team up at No. 8. The second Big Ten team after No. 6 Ohio State is Michigan State at No. 11. It could conceivably be Alabama if the Tide were to beat Auburn to clinch the SEC West and then lose in the SEC title game.
I’m not sure if there’s a provision to avoid a repeat matchup if Tech were indeed the ACC representative and Ole Miss was the highest-ranked non-champion from the SEC or Big Ten. My guess would be no, as I imagine most teams in Ole Miss’ situation would prefer going to the Orange Bowl and playing the team it faced in a bowl game in the previous season over whatever the alternative was.
SI.com, Zac Ellis: Orange, vs. Mississippi State
Mark Schlabach: Pinstripe, vs. Maryland
Brett McMurphy: Orange, vs. Mississippi State
David Hale: Orange
CBSSports.com, Jerry Palm: Pinstripe, vs. Penn State
Phil Steele: Orange, vs. Mississippi State
Fox Sports, Stewart Mandel: Orange, vs. Ole Miss
Sporting News: Music City, vs. South Carolina
Patrick Stevens, syarcuse.com: Orange