Does anyone want to win the ACC Coastal?

Mack Brown, North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)
Mack Brown, North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images) /

The Clemson Tigers are running away with the ACC Atlantic, but does any team want to even think about winning the ACC Coastal this season?

Championship Saturday will be here before you know it. In about a month, several teams will play in a neutral-site affair to decide who will be conference champions. While we should expect great games in the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, we’re just not going to get that in the ACC. It’ll be the Clemson Tigers vs. whatever poor team comes out of the ACC Coastal.

Clemson is the only team in the ACC with a legitimate College Football Playoff feel to them. The Tigers haven’t lost a game since the 2018 College Football Playoff when they fell to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in the national semifinal. Their path to Charlotte for the ACC Championship is a cakewalk, but what team even wants to dream about playing them then?

Sure, Clemson still has two more decent division games in ACC Atlantic play before the Tigers will be back playing for a berth in the College Football Playoff. The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are ranked and the North Carolina State Wolfpack always plays Clemson tough. But who would want to come out of the ACC Coastal for a certain beat down at the hands of Dabo Swinney‘s team?

Well, somebody has to win the worst division in the Power 5, right? Last year, it was the 7-5 Pittsburgh Panthers who went to Charlotte, took their Clemson beating and got on with their lives playing their brand of boring ACC football. At 2-2 in ACC play, maybe it is Pitt getting back to Charlotte to only get chewed up by a ferocious Tigers team again?

Entering Week 10 of the 2019 NCAA season, literally, every team in the ACC Coastal is still in the race to get to Charlotte. When the atrocious 2-5 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets still have a chance, then your division has some serious problems.

While it almost certainly won’t be the Ramblin’ Wreck to face their cross-divisional for a second time this year in Charlotte, three teams could be interesting opponents for Clemson in the ACC title bout.

We’re using the term interesting loosely here, but who stands a better shot in Charlotte vs. Clemson in early December: the North Carolina Tar Heels, the Virginia Cavaliers or the Virginia Tech Hokies?

North Carolina already gave Clemson its closest thing to a conference loss since the Syracuse Orange did it a few years back. Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown went for two in Chapel Hill and lost to Clemson by a single point. At 4-4 (3-2), one would think he’d like a mulligan against Dabo’s bunch in the Queen City. Plus, it’d be cool to see Brown coaching in a game that almost matters.

Virginia was most people’s pick to win the ACC Coastal at the start of the season. People like the job that Bronco Mendenhall is doing turning around the program in Charlottesville. The Hoos were ranked earlier in the season, but a loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish brought an end to that. At 5-3 (3-2), Virginia is in the driver’s seat to get to Charlotte from Charlottesville this year.

And then there’s Justin Fuente‘s Hokies. Virginia Tech went to the ACC Championship a few years ago and could make a return trip in 2019. The Hokies are the only two-loss team in the ACC Coastal through Week 9. At 5-2 (2-2), they could make things very interesting when they take on the Cavaliers in the Commonwealth Cup at regular season’s end. That game might win the Coastal.

Of course, both the Duke Blue Devils and the Miami Hurricanes are eligible to get to Charlotte as ACC Coastal champions, but who wants to see those teams get stomped by Clemson? We know it’s happening if Duke were to make it. It would be a sad sight to watch The U play awful football in a championship game it truly didn’t earn to be there. The ACC Coastal is a gift the keeps on giving.

So if you have no dog in the fight, pick either North Carolina, Virginia or Virginia Tech to represent the Coastal in what should be a whooping from Clemson in early December. It would be quite the rebound year for Brown’s Tar Heels if they made it. Virginia would have arrived under Mendenhall if the Hoos get there. Frankly, Fuente’s Hokies may have the best shot to challenge Clemson.

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