Who faces Florida State? Sorting through ACC Coastal Division race

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Here we are on November 11 and still no clear favorite in the ACC’s Coastal Division. Florida State has already wrapped up the Atlantic Division and is juts focusing on keeping up the BCS Championship pace while waiting to find out who they will face in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte at the end of the regular season. With Virginia Tech roughing up Miami on Saturday there are a number of scenarios that can play out in the Coastal race, which could make for a complicated mess.

Figuring out a two-team tiebreaker is simple, with head-to-head result serving as the first tiebreaker. But the ACC Coastal Division could see as many as four teams finish the season with an identical conference record. It is possible Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Duke, Miami and North Carolina could all finish with an ACC record of 5-3, which would be fun to break down using the ACC’s tiebreakers. The more likely scenario will see two or three teams finish with identical records, but here is a look at how this division shapes up the rest of the way, with the exception of Virginia.

Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: @ Clemson

Outlook: It is likely Georgia Tech loses on the road against Clemson, a team that still has a good shot to be selected for a BCS bowl game. With a potential loss at Clemson, Georgia Tech will end their ACC schedule with a mark of 5-3, with losses to Virginia Tech and Miami and wins against Duke, North Carolina and Pittsburgh. Georgia Tech would have a tough time reaching the ACC Championship Game for a second straight season with a loss at Clemson. If Georgia Tech can knock off the Tigers, then we will talk, but for now it does not look great for Georgia Tech.

Virginia Tech (7-3, 4-2 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: Maryland, @ Virginia

Outlook: After smashing Miami, Virginia Tech looks to be the team to beat in the ACC Coastal despite having a head-to-head loss to Duke just a couple of weeks back. The Hokies have wins against Miami and Georgia Tech in addition to North Carolina and Pittsburgh, which could end up helping give Virginia Tech the edge in a three-team tiebreaker scenario. Virginia Tech may have the best remaining conference schedule, especially if the offense happens to bust out the way it did against the Hurricanes. Maryland is fading fast and Virginia has just two wins this season. The Hokies should finish with a 6-2 ACC record, and that should get them back to the ACC Championship Game to face Florida State.

Duke (7-2, 3-2 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: Miami, @ Wake Forest, @ North Carolina

Outlook: The toughest game on Duke’s schedule will be played this weekend, and they get it at home. A win against Miami would give the Blue Devils two huge wins against the Hurricanes and Virginia Tech, and the final two games are probable wins despite being on the road. If Duke can get the win against Miami and they finish the season with a 6-2 ACC mark, they will win a potential head-to-head tiebreaker with Virginia Tech in a two-team tie thanks to a 13-10 victory two weeks ago. However, if it comes down to a three-team situation, Duke starts to lose their advantage. For Duke, winning against Miami will make for the best possible scenario to reach the championship game.

Miami (7-2, 3-2 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: @ Duke, Virginia, @ Pittsburgh

Outlook: Miami is sinking fast and time is running out to plug the holes. Miami’s undefeated start and top ten ranking feel like a distant memory and the Hurricanes have the most difficult of the remaining conference schedules in the Coastal. Miami plays two game son the road, at Duke and at Pittsburgh, and they are capable of losing both. A win this weekend at Duke will give Miami an edge in tie-breaking procedures though as they would have wins against Georgia Tech and Duke, which would help eliminate the Yellow Jackets and Blue Devils from some of the tie breakers, but Virginia Tech will have the upper hand with the head-to-head win. Miami probably has to win their final three games to even have a chance to reach a game that looked to be a certainty just a couple of weeks ago.

North Carolina (4-5, 3-3 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: @ Pittsburgh, Duke

Outlook: With losses to Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami already, North Carolina is essentially out of the equation. Mathematically they can still grab a share of the division championship, but the tiebreakers will not be kind to North Carolina if it comes down to that.

Pittsburgh (5-4, 2-3 ACC)

Remaining ACC Games: North Carolina, @ Syracuse, Miami

Outlook: After Virginia Tech, the ACC newcomers may have the most favorable schedule the rest of the way with home games against UNC and Miami and a road game at Syracuse. Depending on what Panthers team shows up, a 3-0 run here is not unrealistic. Oh it’s not exactly likely, but it is certainly not impossible. Pittsburgh has losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech that could hurt, but they would end up having wins against Miami, North Carolina and Duke that could come in handy.

UNC and Minnesota line up future home-and-home deal

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While one football series between an ACC and Big Ten team may be hard to come by, North Carolina and Minnesota have put together a future home-and-home scheduling agreement to look forward to. The Tar Heels and Gophers will meet for the first time on the football field in 2023 and follow up with a second game in 2024, the schools announced on Wednesday.

North Carolina will host Minnesota on Sept. 16, 2023. The two schools will then open the 2024 season at Minnesota, either on August 31, 2024 or for a Thursday opener on August 29, 2024.

The ACC and Big Ten each require their members to play one game against another power conference opponent each season. North Carolina already satisfied that requirement in 2024 with a season-opener against South Carolina scheduled to be played in Charlotte, NC, but the 2024 game fulfills the power conference scheduling requirement for the Tar Heels. The home-and-home series will also satisfy Minnesota’s obligation to the Big Ten scheduling policy for both seasons (Minnesota is getting an exemption for 2018 and 2019 due to previous scheduling arrangements being in place prior to the Big Ten’s stance on strength of schedule in non-conference play.

Pitt leaves renewal of football series in Penn State’s hands

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Ever since the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt came to a temporary end in 2001, it has been a struggle to get the two schools back on the field for any stretch of time. With the third in a four-game series upcoming this fall, Pitt is hoping to find a way to continue playing the Nittany Lions on future schedules, but the offer is now apparently in Penn State’s hands awaiting a response.

Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke told reporters Wednesday she has proposed a four-year series beginning in 2026 to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, but Penn State has not responded to the offer.

“We’re going to wait a tad more patiently, but not much,” Lyke said, according to Trib Live. “We can’t. We have people who want to play us and good opportunities to play what would be a very attractive game.”

The four-game series currently ongoing between the Panthers and Nittany Lions comes to a close after their meeting in the 2019 season in Happy Valley. According to FBSchedules.com, Penn State will not have another opening for a non-conference game until 2021. That is also the first season Pitt will have scheduling availability for non-conference matchups. Both schools already have power conference opponents lined up through 2025 as well, perhaps eliminating the desire to add another power conference opponent to the schedule.

Both Penn State and Pitt have scheduling requirements for non-conference play from the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, to include at least one game against another power conference opponent. It seems like a natural solution for Penn State and Pitt to agree to a long-term scheduling commitment to satisfy their respective conferences’ scheduling requirements, but the old issue has always come down to the financial incentive of a game. With Penn State playing in a larger stadium, it would be losing out on potential revenue that could be gained by an extra home game when possible. And playing road games at Pittsburgh only helps another program in the state by filling the seats more than any other home game on Pitt’s schedules in just about any season (Notre Dame and West Virginia would be other candidates to help Pitt fill Heinz Field).

It took so long just to get the two schools together for a two-year series, which was later expanded to a four-year arrangement. Don’t count on this in-state rivalry being renewed for quite some time after the 2019 season.

QB Blake Barnett reportedly transferring from Arizona State

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Quarterback Blake Barnett is now on the graduate transfer market. According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, via Twitter, Barnett will find a new program to wrap up his college football career as a graduate transfer. South Florida is reportedly set to get an official visit from the former Sun Devils and Alabama quarterback.

Barnett started his football career at Alabama, where he sat out the 2015 season as a freshman. During his redshirt freshman in 2016, Barnett appeared in just three games as Jalen Hurts rose to become Alabama’s starting quarterback that would lead the Tide for the next two seasons (until halftime of last season’s national championship game). Barnett transferred to Arizona State, leaving behind a seemingly tumultuous relationship with Nick Saban, and played in just two games for the Sun Devils last fall, while Manny Wilkins established himself as the quarterback for former head coach Todd Graham.

A former four-star recruit out of high school, Barnett has played in just five games and completed 14 of 24 pass attempts for 259 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Barnett’s latest transfer news comes a day after former UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen took a swipe at Barnett, who was ranked ahead of Rosen in various recruiting rankings out of high school.

“Blake Barnett was the Elite 11 MVP,” Rosen said, per SEC Country. “He was the dude that was going to go to ‘Bama, win a couple championships, call it quits and go to the league as the first overall pick. You don’t really hear about him too much.”

As a graduate transfer, Barnett will be eligible to play immediately this fall.

Transferring BYU QB Kody Wilstead finds new home at Kansas JUCO

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With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Kody Wilstead opted to leave the Cougars in mid-March.  A little over a month later, Wilstead has found a new home, albeit a little further down on the college football ladder.

According to the Deseret News, Wilstead has signed to play at Coffeyville Community College in Kansas.  As Coffeyville is a junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

It’s expected that Wilstead will spend at least one season at the JUCO level before looking at making a move back up to the FBS.

Wilstead, a three-star 2015 signee, took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after serving an LDS mission the previous two years.

After Wilstead’s departure, the seven remaining Cougar signal-callers are, in alphabetical order, Stacy ConnerJoe CritchlowHayden GriffittsBeau HogeTanner MangumBaylor Romney and Zach Wilson. Mangum, last year’s starter, is recovering from an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in November of last year but remains on track to return for the start of summer camp in August.