By David Rogers. November 20, 2019. BLOWING ROCK, NC — With two weeks left in college football’s regular season, let’s survey the landscape for North Carolina and South Carolina’s potential representation in the 2019 post-season. Who’s in, and who is close among the FBS-level NCAA Division I schools.
Regarding bowl affiliations, it is important to note that the College Football Playoff semifinals and the other New Year’s Six bowl games take precedence over other bowl invitations. Also, the highest-ranked conference champion from the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt automatically gets one spot in either the College Football Playoff Capital One Orange Bowl, or the Goodyear Cotton Bowl.
The bowl selection process is complicated, if not convoluted because of the way the College Football Playoff structure impacts the rest of the bowl affiliations. The bowl affiliations presented below reflect the best information available to us as of this writing. In a future editorial report, we’ll discuss an alternative College Football Playoff Structure that we suggest would be more straight-foward and, presumably, fairer to all teams competing at the FBS level.
- BOWL ELIGIBLE (Requires a minimum of 6 wins)
- Appalachian State (9-1, 2 games remaining vs. Texas State and @Troy)
- Clemson (11-0, 1 game remaining vs. @South Carolina)
- Wake Forest (7-3, 2 games remaining vs. Duke and @Syracuse)
- ELIMINATED FROM ELIGIBILITY
- East Carolina (3-7, 2 games remaining vs. @UConn and Tulsa)
- South Carolina (4-7, 1 game remaining vs. Clemson)
- BEST CHANCE OF BEING BOWL ELIGIBLE
- Charlotte (5-5, 2 games remaining vs. Marshall and @Old Dominion)
- North Carolina (4-6, 2 games remaining vs. Mercer and @NC State)
- NOT ELIMINATED, BUT…
- North Carolina State (4-6, 2 games remaining vs. @ Georgia Tech and UNC)
- Duke (4-6, 2 games remaining vs. @Wake Forest and vs. Miami)
- Coastal Carolina (4-6, 2 games remaining vs. Louisiana-Monroe and Texas State)
American Athletic Conference
- Jared Birmingham Bowl vs. SEC
- Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl vs. C-USA
- Hawaii Bowl vs. BYU or Mountain West
- Military Bowl by Northrup Grumman vs. ACC
- Cheribundi Tart Cherry Bowl vs. C-USA
- AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. Sun Belt
- Frisco Bowl vs. At Large
- East Carolina (Greenville, NC) — with an 0-6 conference record and 3-7 overall, the Pirates we can definitively say that the Pirates will be watching from home this year, even though they were competitive in just about every game this year. Worst losses were early season against North Carolina State (L, 34-6) and Navy (L, 42-10). The Pirates seemed much improved as the season went on. Especially noteworthy were the last two weeks’ losses to conference leaders and bowl-bound Cincinnati (L, 46-43) and SMU (L, 59-51). We’ll be looking for more from ECU next season.
Atlantic Coast Conference
- College Football Playoff Semifinal (if selected)
- Capital One Orange Bowl vs. New Year’s Six at-large
- Camping World Bowl vs. Big 12
- Citrus Bowl (if top possible team is higher ranked than SEC or Big Ten team) vs. SEC or Big Ten
- Belk Bowl vs. SEC
- Hyundai Sun Bowl vs. Pac-12
- New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Big Ten
- Franklin Mortgage Music City Bowl vs. SEC or TaxSlayer Bowl vs. SEC
- Walk-On’s Independence Bowl vs. SEC
- Military Bowl vs. AAC
- Quick Lane Bowl vs. Big Ten
- Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (if AAC or C-USA cannot fill spot)
- Birmingham Bowl (if AAC or SEC cannot fill spot)
- Clemson (Clemson, SC) — Undefeated and untied, the Tigers are not only bowl-bound, but in the College Football Playoff mix. The only scare this year was a 21-20 win over North Carolina — just a week after the Tar Heels were beaten at home by Appalachian State. To beat UNC, Clemson had to stop a late 2-point conversion attempt when Mack Brown and his coaching staff opted to go for the win instead of a tie. Otherwise, Clemson’s wins have been pretty decisive.
- Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, NC) — At 7-3 with games with Duke and Syracuse remaining, the Demon Deacons are “in”, but it remains to be seen which bowl game will invite them. Their losses included a nailbiter at home vs. Louisville (L, 62-59, CLICK HERE for Blowing Rock News’ coverage of that game), a blowout to Clemson (L, 52-3) and a give up to Virginia Tech (L, 36-17).
- North Carolina State (Raleigh, NC) — Sitting at 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the ACC, it’s going to be challenging for NC State to become bowl eligible with a manageable potential win at Georgia Tech and a home rivalry tilt vs. UNC. From what we are hearing, there is good potential for there to be more 6-win FBS teams this year than bowl slots, so a few “eligible” teams may be left out.
- North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC) — The Tar Heels may be left on the outside looking in this year, too, even if they win their last two against Mercer (probable) and NC State (rivalry games are often tossups). At 3-4 in ACC and 4-6 overall, the UNC chances dimmed with all close losses to Wake Forest, App State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, UVA and Pitt. The turnaround that Scott Satterfield & Co. have engineered at Louisville has not been replicated by Mack Brown & Co. in Chapel Hill.
- Duke (Durham, NC) — The Blue Devils will need some of their basketball magic to become bowl eligible in football at this point in the season. With two games remaining against ACC opponents Wake Forest and Miami, Duke needs to win both just to become eligible since they now sit at 4-6 overall and 2-4 in conference. Even should they win out, “eligible” does not guarantee a bowl bid.
- Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla vs. AAC
- Bahamas Bowl vs. MAC
- Gildan New Mexico Bowls vs. Mountain West
- R&L Carries New Orleans Bowl vs. Sun Belt
- SERVPRO First Responders Bowl vs. Big 12
Charlotte (Charlotte, NC) — The 49ers are on the cusp of becoming bowl eligible for the first time in school history, at 3-3 in C-USA and 5-5 overall. Given, however, that they compete in one of the Group of Five conferences and do not yet have the largest fan base, there is a good chance that Charlotte will need to win both final games against Marshall and Old Dominion to actually get in (under the assumption that there are more 6-win eligible teams than available bowl slots). Although the 49ers had a rough early season with losses to App State, Clemson, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Western Kentucky, they are on a 3-game winning streak and playing their best football in head coach Will Healy’s first year. ESPN has them underdogs vs. Marshall, heavily favored at ODU.
Bowl Affiliations (other than College Football Playoff:
- CFP Semifinals (if selected): Sugar Bowl vs. Big 12
- Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl vs. Big Ten or ACC
- AutoZone Liberty Bowl vs. Big 12
- Belk Bowl vs. ACC
- Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl vs. ACC or Big Ten
- Outback Bowl vs. Big Ten
- TaxSlayer Bowl vs. ACC or Big Ten
- Texas Bowl vs. Big 12
- Jared Birmingham Bowl vs. AAC
- Walk-On’s Independence Bowl vs. ACC
- South Carolina (Columbia, SC) — With only one came left, a rivalry tilt at home vs. the Clemson juggernaut, the Gamecocks will not go bowling this season unless for some reason there aren’t enough 6-win eligible teams to pick from. Even then, at 4-7 overall, that means they would have to put a big feather in their cap by beating Clemson. Biggest disappointments this year may well have included losses to UNC (close) and Agpp State (Not so close).
Sun Belt Conference
- R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (usually SBC champion) vs. C-USA
- Mobile Alabama Bowl vs. MAC
- Camellia Bowl vs. MAC
- CURE Bowl vs. AAC
- Arizona Bowl vs. Mountain West
- Coastal Carolina (Conway, SC) — Except for a 1-point win over Troy, the Chanticleers have mostly faltered in Sun Belt play this season so far, with only games vs. Louisiana-Monroe, where the Warhawks are heavily favored, and Texas State, where CCU is the overwhelming favorite. Even if they win out to get their sixth win to become bowl eligible, there is still that pressing question as to whether anyone will send them a bid.
- Appalachian State (Boone, NC) — For the Mountaineers, it is only a question of WHERE they will be invited to play in a bowl game. They are 6-1 in conference play, 9-1 overall, with two big Autonomy 5 (AKA “Power 5”) wins over North Carolina and South Carolina. Wake Forest (7-3) still has an argument for being the best football team in the Carolinas, even though App State has the best record. Appalachian’s deflated performance in losing at home to Georgia Southern pretty much ruined their chances of being invited to a New Year’s Six bowl game (this year, the Cotton Bowl offers the Group of 5 at-large bid, which is more likely to go to Memphis, Cincinnati, Boise State, or SMU), but in Eliah Drinkwitz’s first year at the helm, the Mountaineers have stood their ground as one of the Carolinas’ elite programs. ESPN analysts have the Mountaineers as an overwhelming (96% probability) favorite to win on Saturday vs. Texas State at The Rock, and a 74% favorite at Troy to finish the regular season. If APP again hosts the Sun Belt Conference championship, a victory would probably mean a return to the New Orleans Bowl to face whatever C-USA representative is chosen. Given the Mountaineers have proven to be the best traveling fan base among Sun Belt teams, any of the five SBC-related bowl games should feel happy to have them. The SBC champ usually has gone to the New Orleans Bowl (where the Sun Belt is headquartered), but that is not a given, we understand. Since the Mountaineers have already been to New Orleans, Mobile (Mobile Bowl), Montgomery (Camellia Bowl), Orlando’s CURE Bowl or Tucson’s Arizona Bowl could also be in the mix.