Honestly, picking out the photo to represent this week in anguish is my favorite part of this feature. Bemoan your fate, sad hippy Duke guy! - Grant Halverson
In the couple of weeks I've been doing Coastastrophe Watch, plotting out the path to the fewest bowl teams and most embarrassing results, I've been avoiding the elephant in the room. And that elephant was the Virginia Cavaliers, a team that was winless in the ACC yet expected to beat Miami, Duke, and Virginia Tech to fully drag the division down. It was a ridiculous long shot, and a gaurantee that one or two teams would become bowl eligible than I was hoping for.
Now, two weeks later, it's a real possibility.
We're not sure what Virginia did during their bye week, but it has paid off, first by stomping an N.C. State team that had clearly given up the game of football, and then by beating Miami with a touchdown pass in the waning seconds. Suddenly with two games left in the season Virginia is still in the hunt for a bowl game, while neither of the teams ostensibly leading the division have sewn up their own holiday plans. Is anyone going to finish above .500? Let's find out!
I'm not sure anyone expected the Coastal to still have only one bowl-eligible team with two weeks remaining. I'm sure no one expected Virginia Tech to be in the division cellar,
The bad news is, someone's coming out of this with a winning conference record. It's inevitable at this point; we won't be seeing a 4-4 team playing in Charlotte. We'll probably see a 6-6 team, though. You can get the full breakdown of winning scenarios here. We're only interested in the losing scenario. I think at this point, the most embarrassing result is for under-investigation, possibly-vacated Miami to be the sacrificial lamb for FSU or Clemson. Besides, I'd rather the winning team be the one UNC actually beat, rather than the two also-rans who put up 33 and 68 points on the Tar Heels.
This result is pretty plausible, actually. Thinking Boston College can beat Virginia Tech is probably me just pouring salt on the Hokies' wounds, and I'm not sure Duke can regroup and beat Georgia Tech, but the rest of it is solid. Here's a look at the four games this week, where the division has a decent chance of approaching respectability:
We'll start with the Thursday night game that sends the Tar Heels to Virginia. The last time Carolina made it to Charlottesville, they snapped a fourteen-game losing streak, but you don't have to go back very far to find a number of disappointing showings against the Cavaliers. And now they're beginning to click, rotating two quarterbacks against a defense that gave up a basketball score to Georgia tech last week. UNC has the edge, but it's a slim one. Odds of Furthering the Coastastrophe: 55%.
Then there's poor Virginia Tech. The Hokies have lost their last three and five of their last six. If there's an opponent that can pull them out of this tailspin, it's Boston College. The Eagles are 122nd out of 124 teams in rushing, and with Virginia's improvement are making a strong case to be the worst team in a BCS conference. Remember that about the Atlantic — take away Florida State and Clemson, and the division is worse than any four teams from the Coastal. As badly as I want the Hokies to sink further into irrelevance, it'll be tough for them to lose here. Odds of Furthering the Coastastrophe: 10%.
When it was scheduled, you could make the case that Miami's game this week against South Florida was a prime opportunity for an upstart school to overthrow one of the big names in a big football state. Now, I had to take a moment to check if USF head coach Skip Holtz has a job. (He does, and he probably won't for much longer.) South Florida has lost 14 of their last 17 games and has won one Big East game in two years. I'd say even Miami couldn't screw this up, but the Hurricanes can screw anything up if they try hard enough. Keep dreaming, you crazy bunch of kids. Odds of Furthering the Coastastrophe: 10%.
It seems like every week we're getting a game that will decide the Coastal Division championship, and this time around it's Georgia Tech vs. Duke. This is the Yellow Jackets' last ACC game, and a win here will leave them hoping Duke can upset the Hurricanes so they can make it to Charlotte. It will also get them a bowl bid, because beating Georgia the following week doesn't seem to likely. Duke has been outscored 104 to 27 in their last two games, so I hope that bye week helps them out. Or barring that, that they give up 70 to GT, because I need to feel better than somebody about something. Odds of Furthering the Coastastrophe: 30%.