ACC mailblog: Georgia Tech's finish, UNC's future, final-week upsets

Mailbag time. Let’s get to it...

ESPN's FPI gives Georgia Tech a 0.8-percent chance to win out, which is to say, not real good. Saturday's game against Duke is probably crucial because the next two - at North Carolina and at Virginia Tech -- both look like tough ones, and the finale at Georgia is hardly a gimme. It wouldn't necessarily shock me to see Georgia Tech go 2-1 in those three games, but it's probably just as likely it goes 0-3. So, with the Yellow Jackets at 4-3, they'll need wins over both Duke and Virginia to assure bowl eligibility.

Assuming Clemson gets by Florida State this week -- a big assumption given its track record in Tallahassee -- the remaining schedule includes home games against Syracuse, Pittsburgh and South Carolina and a road trip to Wake Forest. I'd expect Clemson to be a heavy favorite in all four, but Pitt is clearly the team that could provide the biggest challenge. The Panthers can get after the QB, are solid against the run, and that offense can chew up clock and wear down a defense. It's not hard to envision a scenario where Pitt plays Clemson much like NC State did, only with better kicking.

Mitch Trubisky's departure still seems like a 50-50 chance -- and maybe less than that -- to me. He's in his first year starting in a passer-friendly offense, and it will be interesting to see how cautious NFL teams would be with that track record. But the bigger point here is that UNC could say goodbye to a lot of talent after this year, from Elijah Hood, Bug Howard and Ryan Switzer on offense to Nazair Jones, Mikey Bart and Des Lawrence on defense. That's a lot to replace, and so it's reasonable to think a step back is in order. But of course, Pitt, Virginia Tech and Miami will be saying goodbye to some key cogs, too. Overall, I'd expect UNC to still be in the mix assuming Trubisky returns. If he doesn't, I've got some big questions at quarterback.

The day after Thanksgiving at the earliest, but my rule of thumb is Dec. 1. I also have a strict rule against watching "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" before Dec. 1. My record for viewings between the 1st and 25th is 16.

The big finale isn't until the final week of the season, but the ACC has held its own. The league is 36-10 overall in nonconference games, 8-6 vs other Power 5 teams. In nonconference Power 5 games, the Big 12 is 3-6, Big Ten is 8-4, Pac-12 is 6-5 and SEC is 5-5. The ACC still has its four rivalry games vs. the SEC and two matchups against Notre Dame left to play, so from a winning percentage perspective, it would need to go 6-0 to pass the Big Ten, but even a 3-3 showing would be a strong overall performance in 2016. (For what it's worth, I'd anticipate the ACC team being favored in five of those last six, too.)

It probably shouldn't have happened then, but I definitely don't see it happening now unless Louisville -- and Lamar Jackson -- go in the tank. Jackson isn't just the best player in college football so far. He's having a legitimately historic season, so as good as Jabrill Peppers has been, I can't envision a scenario in which he'd get more Heisman votes. Of the players currently listed at 50-to-1 or less, I'd say Deshaun Watson and Jake Browning are probably the two most likely to catch Jackson, but even those feel like long shots.

Narrative is a funny thing. It usually starts with limited information and it rarely adjusts as more information comes available. Clemson had two close games early against Auburn and Troy, and both seemed bad at the time. But those two teams are now 11-1 in non-Clemson games. The NC State game was yet another too-close-for-comfort performance, and so the narrative is reaffirmed. But the numbers between this year and last are strikingly similar, and given the improvement on defense, I'd argue this year's team has a reasonable case for being even better than last.

RIP Vine. Your best work was reserved for dogs. Like this and this and this and this and this.

It's an interesting question because in the first two years of the playoff, the top six teams in the country are a combined 9-1 (with two off) on championship Saturdays, with the lone loss going to No. 4 Iowa against No. 5 Michigan State in what was, essentially, a de facto play-in game. The committee hasn't had to reshuffle the deck at the last minute, but that could certainly happen -- particularly if there were an upset in the ACC, SEC or Big Ten this year. Predicting the specifics at this point would be relatively useless, but one thing worth noting: After eight weeks in 2014, there were 18 Power 5 teams with zero or one loss. Same in 2015. This year, there are just 12. It's a recipe for some late-season craziness, and I wouldn't be surprised if we get either our first two-loss playoff team or our first playoff team that isn't a conference champion.