0

Parity hurting ACC's hunt for bowl-worthy teams

Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh (25) scores on a 5-yard touchdown run as Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson (14) and defensive back Eric Franklin, on ground, defend during the third quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in College Park, Md. Georgia Tech won 33-13. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh (25) scores on a 5-yard touchdown run as Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson (14) and defensive back Eric Franklin, on ground, defend during the third quarter of an NCAA football game, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, in College Park, Md. Georgia Tech won 33-13. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

ATLANTA -- Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech have losing records with three regular-season games remaining, leaving two of the nation's five-longest bowl streaks in jeopardy.

The Hokies and Yellow Jackets are not the only Atlantic Coast Conference teams with precarious postseason hopes.

The ACC may struggle to fill its eight bowl slots.

Saturday's North Carolina State-Wake Forest winner becomes only the fourth team to qualify, joining Florida State, Clemson and Duke.

North Carolina has a winning record but is ineligible due to NCAA sanctions. Miami, under NCAA investigation, could self-impose its second-straight bowl ban. Miami (5-4), which plays at Virginia on Saturday, needs one more win before it must make that decision.

No. 8 Florida State and No. 10 Clemson are the league's only ranked teams and Duke (6-4) has also qualified for a bowl for the first time since 1994.

Coaches say parity has made it difficult for more teams to emerge as bowl-worthy. It also could be there's just not a lot of good football teams in the ACC.

It doesn't say much for the league when Duke, third in line for bowl consideration, lost to Florida State and Clemson by a combined margin of 77 points the last two weeks. The Blue Devils also have an ugly 50-13 loss to Stanford. Duke's least lopsided loss was by 21 points to Virginia Tech.

ACC coaches talk about parity in the league behind the two powers, but the perception is the league simply lacks depth.

"Clearly the bottom line is that I think conferences are evaluated on how your top teams play and where they are," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. "Florida State has the one loss. Clemson has the one loss. They're clearly the marquee teams of the conference this year.

"I think for the perception to get better, you're going to have to have stronger teams in the front, have somebody up there in the top five or six. Until that happens, the perception is not going to be as good."

Wake Forest's Jim Grobe is one of those who believes it's a parity issue, not a talent issue.

"I've always said that anybody can beat anybody, but Clemson and Florida State are the two teams that are leading the pack," Grobe said. "The rest of us are just good football teams that play good football teams every week. Just look at our schedule. We're playing pretty good teams week in and week out. It's one of those deals where anybody can beat anybody, and that's typically happening."

Virginia Tech has appeared in bowls 19 straight seasons, the nation's third-longest streak, followed by Georgia Tech's string of 15. Each team is 4-5 and must win two of its last three games to extend its season.

Virginia Tech's streak of bowl seasons began in 1993. Only Florida State (30) and Florida (21) have longer active streaks.

The Hokies play No. 8 Florida State on Thursday night before closing their regular season against Boston College and Virginia.

Georgia Tech has games remaining against three teams with winning records, including Saturday's game at North Carolina (6-3). The Yellow Jackets play Duke (6-4) next week and are at No. 5 Georgia to close their regular season.

The Yellow Jackets need a win against the Tar Heels to bolster their shaky bowl hopes.

"It's been a topic," Johnson said. "It's been one of the goals for the season, to go to a bowl game and win a bowl game. That's one of the goals the team set, so it's an important game in that matter as well."