ACC Tiebreakers: Hokies Need Some Help

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Virginia Tech doesn’t look as comfortable in the ACC standings as they did a
week ago. They no longer control their own destiny, and they need some help to
make the ACC Championship Game. It’s simple: The Hokies need Georgia Tech to
lose. To anybody.

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia

Team Opponents

Georgia Tech

at Virginia, at Vanderbilt, vs. Wake Forest, at Duke, vs. Georgia


vs. Clemson, at Wake Forest, vs. Virginia, at UNC, vs. Duke, at USF

Virginia Tech

vs. UNC, at ECU, at Maryland, vs. NC State, at Virginia

It’s very important that Virginia Tech win out. A loss to any team remaining
on their schedule, including ECU, could potentially put the Hokies out of the

A two-team tie is simple, so we aren’t going to spend much time talking about
it. If Georgia Tech loses one of their remaining conference games to Virginia,
Wake Forest or Duke, the Hokies would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the
Miami Hurricanes. With the Hokies and Hurricanes at 7-1 in the ACC, and Georgia
Tech at 6-2, the Hokies would get the nod in the ACC Championship Game.

However, if Miami loses and Georgia Tech doesn’t, Virginia Tech would lose
the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Yellow Jackets based on their loss in
Atlanta this past Saturday.

Now let’s get on to the hard stuff, the three-team tiebreakers. This assumes
that all three teams win out in ACC play and finish 7-1 in the conference.

First Tiebreaker: Combined head-to-head Record among the tied teams

You put Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech into a mini-division and see
how they fared against each other. Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech but lost to
Miami. Miami beat Georgia Tech but lost to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech beat
Miami but lost to Georgia Tech.

That makes all three teams 1-1 in the mini-division. Thus, the first
tiebreaker doesn’t help, so we move on to the second tiebreaker.

Second Tiebreaker: Record of the tied teams within the division

Again, this one is simple. Each team is 7-1, and their only loss coming in
their mini-division. None of the three teams lost to Virginia, North Carolina or
Duke. Thus, all three teams are 4-1 against Coastal Division competition, and we
have to move on to our third tiebreaker.

Third Tiebreaker: Head-to-head competition vs. the team within the division
with the best overall (divisional or conference) record, and proceeding through
the division. Multiple ties within the division will be broken first to last.

This one isn’t going to help either. Virginia, Duke and UNC all lost to
Georgia Tech, Miami and Virginia Tech. Since the Yellow Jackets, Hurricanes and
Hokies have the exact same divisional wins vs. those bottom three teams, we’ll
have to move on to the fourth tiebreaker.

Fourth Tiebreaker: Overall record for non-divisional teams.

Whoever wrote that line didn’t do a very good job. Exactly what does
“overall record for non-divisional teams” mean? Apparently it means
overall record against the other division. In this case, how did Georgia Tech,
Miami and Virginia Tech fare against the Atlantic Division? Well, if they are
all 7-1 in the ACC and 4-1 in the Coastal Division, that means they are all 3-0
against the Atlantic Division. That means we go to our fifth tiebreaker.

Fifth Tiebreaker: Combined record versus all common non-divisional teams.

This one is simple to figure out as well. The three teams don’t have any
common non-divisional teams. Georgia Tech and Miami played Florida State,
Clemson and Wake Forest from the Atlantic Division. While they both had three
common opponents, Virginia Tech played NC State, Maryland and Boston College.
That doesn’t match up, therefore we’ll skip to the sixth tiebreaker.

Sixth Tiebreaker: Record versus common non-divisional [opponents] with the
best overall Conference (divisional) and non-divisional record and proceeding
through the other common non-divisional teams based on their order of finish
within the division.

There’s that key phrase again: “common non-divisional”. All three
teams don’t have any common non-divisional opponents, so we’ve got to skip to
step #7.

Seventh Tiebreaker: The tied team with the highest ranking in the Bowl
Championship Series Standings following the conclusion of regular season games
shall be the divisional representative in the ACC Championship Game, unless the
second of the tied teams is ranked within five-or-fewer places of the highest
ranked tied team. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked
tied teams shall determine the representative in the ACC Championship Game.

This is the one that decides it. Currently, Miami is #10 in the BCS, Georgia
Tech is #12 and Virginia Tech is #14. Assuming each team stays in the same order
in the BCS standings, since Virginia Tech is the lowest-ranked BCS team, they
become irrelevant, and it comes down to Miami and Georgia Tech. The Canes are
the highest ranked of those two teams, and since the Yellow Jackets lost that
game head-to-head, Miami would go to the ACC Championship Game.

However, things could get complicated if any of these teams manages to lose a
non-conference game from here on out. Georgia Tech has non-conference games
against Vanderbilt and Georgia remaining. A loss to either one of those teams
would likely send the Yellow Jackets toppling below Virginia Tech in the BCS,
assuming the Hokies win out. If that’s the case, the top two teams in the BCS
rankings would be Virginia Tech and Miami. Assuming the Hokies were still within
five spots of the Canes in the BCS, the Hokies would get the ACC Championship
Game berth based on their head-to-head victory against the Miami. However, if
Miami is more than five spots ahead of VT in the BCS, the Canes would go to

What happens if Miami loses to South Florida at the end of the season? If
that’s the case, then the two highest ranked ACC teams in the BCS would be
Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech, assuming they both win out. In that scenario,
Georgia Tech would get the invite to Tampa for the ACC Championship Game based
on their head-to-head victory over the Hokies.

What if both Miami and Georgia Tech lose a non-conference game, and Virginia
Tech wins out? Just a guess, but I think we’d see the Hokies as the highest
ranked ACC team in the BCS, with Miami second and Georgia Tech third. In that
case it would come down to Virginia Tech and Miami, with the Hokies securing the
bid based on their head-to-head victory and their higher BCS ranking. That
scenario uses a lot more guessing, however. Who really knows how those BCS
standings would turn out?

The Bottom Line

Virginia Tech needs Georgia Tech to lose to somebody if they want to make the
ACC Championship Game. Preferably to an ACC team. A two-team tiebreaker with
Miami would be much simpler, and guaranteed. However, if the Yellow Jackets drop
a game to Vandy or Georgia, that could be enough to bump the Hokies into the ACC
Championship Game.

Of course, it goes without saying that the Hokies have to take care of their
own business. They probably can’t afford anymore losses, though in this crazy
world of college football, you never really know.

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