It’s never too early to start looking ahead to bowl season in late December. While many are focused on the College Football Playoff and the top contenders, several teams are looking to get back to the postseason. Here are three ACC squads looking to end their bowl droughts:
North Carolina Tar Heels
Through six games, the Tar Heels have more wins as a season ago, when they went 2-9. After four straight bowl appearances from 2013-2016, North Carolina has yet to reach four wins since. With wins over Miami and South Carolina in 2019, there’s reason for optimism in Chapel Hill to get back to the postseason. Their schedule sets up nicely to get to six wins, with some winnable home games left against Duke and Mercer. UNC will need to steal one on the road versus either Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh or rival NC State. Taking this program to a bowl game, after a 2-9 season, would be a tremendous accomplishment for Mack Brown in Year One (or Eleven) in Chapel Hill. The last time UNC won a bowl game, tight end Eric Ebron led the Tar Heels with seven catches for 78 yards in the victory over Cincinnati.
-last win: 2013 Belk Bowl vs Cincinnati
-last appearance: 2016 Sun Bowl vs Stanford
Similar to the Tar Heels, Pitt hasn’t won a bowl game in six years, dating back to the win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. That game saw James Conner, current Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back, rush for an absurd 229 yards on 29 carries in the narrow victory. This year, the Panthers sit at 4-2 overall through six weeks of the season. That includes a current three-game winning streak, which began with the upset of Central Florida in Week 5, and after a disappointing 1-2 start to the year. Pittsburgh faces Syracuse next in a matchup against former Big East rivals, and should feel confident about their chances of winning in the Carrier Dome. According to ESPN’s FPI, the Panthers are projected win four of their final six games. There’s reason for optimism in Pittsburgh to at least get back to the postseason, where they’ll look to end a 6-year skid without a bowl win.
last bowl win: 2013 Little Caesar’s Bowl vs Bowling Green
last appearance: 2018 Hyundai Sun Bowl vs Stanford
Three years ago, Lamar Jackson took the college football world by storm with his out-of-this-world athleticism and track-star speed, and the Cardinals were ranked as high as #3 in the country. Fast forward to last season, and things could not have been more different. After a 2-10 season, many predicted a long rebuild in Louisville, with Scott Satterfield stuck with a bunch of Bobby Petrino’s leftovers. To the surprise of many, the Cards are 3-2 overall, and were competitive in their two losses, unlike last season. With the ACC as down as it is this year, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for Louisville to win three more games, based on their schedule. Looking at their final seven games, road contests at Miami, NC State and in-state rival Kentucky certainly look winnable. Not to mention, a matchup with struggling Syracuse at Cardinal Stadium could be one you could Sharpie in. The Cards’ last bowl win came against Texas A&M in Lamar Jackson’s coming-out party, by a score of 27-21. Jackson threw for 227 yards and two scores and rushed for 226 yards and two TDs.
last bowl win: 2015 Music City Bowl vs Texas A&M
last appearance: 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl vs Mississippi State
The rest of the ACC:
-Boston College- last bowl win: 2016 Quick Lane Bowl vs Maryland
-Clemson- last bowl win: 2019 National Championship vs Alabama
-Duke- last bowl win: 2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl vs Temple
-Florida State- last bowl win: 2017 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl vs Southern Miss
-Georgia Tech- last bowl win: 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl vs Kentucky
-Miami- last bowl win: 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl vs West Virginia
-NC State- last bowl win: 2017 Sun Bowl vs Arizona State
-Syracuse- last bowl win: 2018 Camping World Bowl vs West Virginia
-Virginia- last bowl win: 2018 Belk Bowl vs South Carolina
–Virginia Tech- last bowl win: 2016 Belk Bowl vs. Arkansas
–Wake Forest- last bowl win: 2018 Birmingham Bowl vs Memphis