Georgia Tech has clinched a share of first place in the ACC Coastal Division. Should Duke lose either to North Carolina on Thursday or to Wake Forest on Nov. 29, the Jackets will play Florida State for the conference title. Should that happen, these would be Tech’s final three games: A 28-6 victory over Clemson, ranked No. 22 by the College Football Playoff committee; a road test at Georgia, ranked No. 10, and then a date in Charlotte with Florida State, ranked No. 3.
The Jackets, ranked No. 18 by the committee, will be pronounced underdogs against Georgia and would be against Florida State. But what if they won both games? What if a team that really hadn’t beaten anybody as of Nov. 14 closed by beating Clemson, Georgia and FSU? Would that propel Tech into the top four?
Probably not, according to Brad Edwards, who parses the playoff for ESPN. “With Georgia Tech, we’ll have to wait and see,” he said this week. “If they beat Georgia, where will they be ranked at that point? I just don’t know if they’d be close enough for it to matter (going into the ACC title tilt).”
But wouldn’t a victory over Florida State, which hasn’t lost since November 2012, be an attention-getter? Said Edwards: “I don’t know that there’s a lot of respect for Florida State at this point. So many teams have almost beaten them. If Georgia Tech should do it, I think the reaction would be, ‘Finally.’ ”
Even as we note that there’s no knowing what a committee that has no history will do, we must also note the obvious. It has been assumed since September that the only ACC team with a shot to make the four-team field is Florida State. Simply beating FSU — not that beating FSU would be simple — mightn’t be enough to lift Tech above a berth in the Orange Bowl, where the Jackets could wind up anyway.
“The ACC is the weakest of the power leagues,” Edwards said. Even a one-loss FSU probably wouldn’t land in the playoff grid. A two-loss Georgia Tech wouldn’t appear to have a realistic shot.
That said, after the consecutive October losses to Duke and North Carolina, who thought Tech would be in the conversation for anything above the Belk Bowl?