The ACC put a whopping 10 teams in bowl games this year, and there are plenty of intriguing matchups. ACC teams will be playing everywhere from Miami to San Francisco, and a good bowl record would be a solid boost to conference prestige.
The ACC had nine bowl tie-ins and 10 bowl eligible teams. NC State still managed to grab a spot in Papajohns.com Bowl despite not being included in a regular ACC bowl. The ACC is the first conference to ever send 10 teams to a bowl game. Over the last four years, 34 conference teams have gone bowling, which is the highest number in college football over that span.
Papajohns.com Bowl, December 29, 3pm, ESPN
NC State (6-6, 4-4) won their final four games of the regular season to become bowl eligible. Led by first team All-ACC quarterback Russell Wilson, the Wolfpack will play Rutgers in the Papajohns.com Bowl.
This will be a battle of two teams who are peaking at the right time. After starting the season 1-5, Rutgers rallied to win their final six games of the season, culminating in a 63-14 rout of Louisville. The Scarlet Knights won each of their last five games by no fewer than 18 points.
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, December 30, 4:30pm, ESPN
Maryland (7-5, 4-4) gets the nod to play in Boise in late December this year. The Terps were in contention for the Atlantic Division championship, but dropped their final two games to Florida State and Boston College.
Maryland’s opponent will be the Nevada Wolfpack. Nevada is a solid program from the WAC that finished 7-5 on the season. It’s common for ACC teams to play in frigid Boise against a team they don’t respect, and then lose the game. Maryland will be looking to reverse that trend against the Wolfpack.
EagleBank Bowl, December 20, 11am, ESPN
Wake Forest (7-5, 4-4) will head to Washington, DC to take on Navy in the EagleBank Bowl on December 20. The game will be played in RFK Stadium, and it will be the second meeting between these two teams this year. Navy upset Wake Forest 24-17 in Winston-Salem earlier in the season.
The Midshipmen are coming off a 34-0 thumping of their arch-rival in the annual Army-Navy game. They finished the season 8-4, their first year without ACC Coach of the Year Paul Johnson at the helm.
Emerald Bowl, December 27, 8pm, ESPN
Miami (7-5, 4-4) will have a chance to secure a win over a Pac-10 team when they take on Cal in the Emerald Bowl. The ‘Canes had a good shot to win the Coastal Division this year, but they dropped their last two games of the season to Georgia Tech and NC State. Cal has already lost to one ACC team this year, Maryland, and Miami will be looking to make the ACC 2-0 this season against the Golden Bears.
Cal finished 8-4 on the season. Besides the loss to Maryland, they were knocked off by Arizona, USC and Oregon State. They played USC tough, losing just 17-3. They will certainly have a home field advantage over the Hurricanes, since the game is played in California.
Meineke Car Care Bowl, December 27, 1pm, ESPN
North Carolina (8-4, 4-4) will have a huge home field advantage for their bowl game. They will be taking on West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, which will be played in Charlotte. The Tar Heels don’t make a bowl very often, so their fans will flock to Charlotte on December 27. They were in contention for the Coastal Division before dropping two straight games to Maryland and NC State in November.
West Virginia finished the season 8-4. They were in contention for the Big East Championship, but two close late-season losses to Cincinnati and Pitt derailed those hopes.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, December 31, 3:30pm, ESPN
Boston College (9-4, 5-3) lost the ACC Championship Game to Virginia Tech, and they’ll be headed to Nashville to play in the Music City Bowl. The Eagles have won eight consecutive bowl games, and overall this is their ninth straight appearance in a bowl. They’ll face Vanderbilt of the SEC.
Vanderbilt snuck into a bowl game with a 6-6 record, despite losing six of their last seven games of the season. The Commodores are 0-2 against the ACC this year, with losses to Duke and Wake Forest. BC will try to become the third ACC team to knock off Vandy in 2008.
Champs Sports Bowl, December 27, 4:30pm, ESPN
Florida State (8-4, 5-3) just missed out on playing for the ACC Championship. Instead, they’ll face Wisconsin of the Big Ten in the Champs Sports Bowl. The ‘Noles lost a November game to Boston College 27-17, and that basically sealed their postseason fate. The suspension of five wide receivers arguably cost them that game.
Wisconsin finished the season 7-5. They lost their first four Big Ten games, but rallied to win four of their last five games. Their last game of the season was a 36-35 battle with 1-AA Cal Poly, so this looks to be a game that Florida State has a good chance to win.
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl, January 1, 1pm, CBS
The Clemson Tigers (7-5, 4-4) rallied to win four of their last five games, and as a result are headed to the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. Dabo Swinney can now relax. After leading the Tigers to a respectable record after Tommy Bowden was canned in mid-season, he was recently hired as Clemson’s newest head coach.
Clemson will be facing the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Nebraska struggled early in the season, losing three straight games to Virginia Tech, Missouri and Texas Tech. However, they came back strong to win five of their last six games. This is an intriguing bowl matchup between two name teams.
Chick-fil-A Bowl, December 31, 7:30pm, ESPN
Georgia Tech (9-3, 5-3) had a great season under ACC Coach of the Year Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets were particularly strong down the stretch, beating Miami 41-23 and Georgia 45-42. Their big win between the hedges in Athens brought respect to a conference that has been criticized all year.
The Yellow Jackets will have a chance to get their second straight win over an SEC team. They’ll face LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. LSU had a down year, finishing 7-5 a year after winning the National Championship. The Tigers are limping their way into this game, losing three of their last four. Their one win was a close 40-31 contest against Troy.
FedEx Orange Bowl, January 1, 8pm, FOX
Virginia Tech (9-4, 5-3) won their second straight ACC Championship on Saturday, and their third in their first five seasons in the league. The Hokies will be making their sixth appearance in one of college football’s elite bowls under Frank Beamer. Tech has appeared in three Sugar Bowls, and this will be their third Orange Bowl game. They are playing their best football of the year. Their 18-point margin of victory against Boston College was their largest of the season.
The Hokies will take on Cincinnati, the Big East Champions. The Bearcats went 11-2 this year. They have three 10-win seasons in school history, with two of them coming under second year head coach Brian Kelly. Cincinnati is a good team with a fast defense and an offense that likes to throw the football. The Hokies beat the Bearcats 29-13 in 2006.