Hokies, Cavaliers and Panthers all still in contention for Coastal Division crown

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Staff writer Frankie Richetti lays out potential ACC Coastal Division football championship results.

By Frankie Richetti, Staff Writer

Since Pitt joined the ACC and its Coastal Division in 2013, seven different winners have held the crown over the span of seven years, not counting last season where the ACC abandoned the divisional format.

It looks like this run of Coastal chaos will continue through to 2021. With just two games remaining in the regular season, there are still three teams with a chance to represent the division in the conference title game.

Pitt

For the Panthers, it’s quite simple — win and you’re in. 

The Panthers sit atop the Coastal Division with sole possession of first place, boasting a record of 5-1 within the ACC. The lone loss came at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes, who posed a serious threat to the Panthers before losing to rival Florida State this past weekend, eliminating their division title hopes.

This result makes the Panthers upcoming game against the Virginia Cavaliers even more significant, and unquestionably Pitt’s biggest game at Heinz Field in more than a decade.

If the Panthers beat the Cavaliers this Saturday, they clinch the Coastal Division and earn a place in the ACC Championship Game.

If Pitt loses to the Cavaliers, they will still have a shot at the Coastal crown, but they would need some help. In order to win the division following a loss to Virginia, Pitt would need to beat Syracuse on the road and hope for Virginia Tech to beat Virginia.

It’s not an ideal scenario to need help from another team heading into the regular season finale, so the Panthers will want to wrap up the division this weekend in front of their fans at Heinz Field.

Virginia

The Cavaliers are in a similar situation to Pitt right now, where they control their own destiny.

If Virginia comes into Pittsburgh and knocks off the Panthers this weekend, the two teams would be deadlocked at the top of the division with a 5-2 record in conference, but the tiebreaker would go the way of UVA.

In that event, the Cavaliers could clinch the Coastal the following weekend against Virginia Tech in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Virginia’s Coastal hopes ride on the back of its standout quarterback, junior Brennan Armstrong. Armstrong took a shot to the ribs late in the Cavaliers’ 66-49 loss to BYU two weeks ago and was held out of last weekend’s game against Notre Dame.

Head coach Bronco Mendehall threw first-year quarterback Jay Woolfolk into the fire in his absence and Woolfolk never found his groove, as Notre Dame beat Virginia handily 28-3. But the loss had no impact on their hopes within the conference, since the Irish are not an ACC opponent.

The Panthers are currently 13.5 point favorites against the Cavaliers, but the line would drop quite a bit if Armstrong ends up playing, like Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi expects.

“I think they saved him up,” Narduzzi said during a press conference earlier in the week.

Virginia Tech

Unexpectedly, it’s a three horse race for the Coastal, but the Hokies’ chances are extremely slim.

In order for Virginia Tech to capture the division title, it would need to beat Miami this weekend and get some help from Virginia, which would need to beat Pitt this weekend for the Hokies to have any shot.

Virginia Tech would also need to take care of business the following week on the road at Virginia, and hope for a Pitt loss to Syracuse to earn a berth in the ACC Championship Game.

If the Hokies win out and the Panthers lose out, then Virginia Tech would own the tiebreaker of record within the Coastal, which would be the deciding factor. While Virginia Tech holds just a 1% chance to represent the Coastal in the conference title game, it isn’t mathematically eliminated yet.

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