Around the ACC: Bowl Matchups Set

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This year’s bowl matchups have been set. Thanks to a couple of ACC schools being banned from the postseason, the league’s bowl slate is pretty thin.

A total of six ACC teams are going bowling, and many teams were bumped up a couple of spots because North Carolina and Miami are ineligible for the postseason. Overall, there just don’t appear to be too many intriguing matchups this year.

Orange Bowl – January 1, 8:30pm, ESPN – Florida State vs. Northern Illinois

Florida State defeated Georgia Tech 21-15 in Saturday night’s ACC Championship Game, and their reward is a trip to Miami. However, their opponent isn’t all that interesting. The Noles will take on MAC Champion Northern Illinois, who went 12-1 and defeated Kent State in overtime on Friday night. The Huskies lost their first game of the season 18-17 to Iowa, and haven’t lost since.

How seriously will the Noles take Northern Illinois? How will the Huskies play? In case you didn’t know, NC State hired NIU coach Dave Doeren on Saturday, and he will not coach Northern Illinois in the bowl game. Instead, offensive coordinator Rod Carey will be running the team.

Florida State clearly has more talent in this game. It’s important for the ACC that they show up, play well, and not get upset.

Chick-fil-A Bowl – December 31, 7:30pm, ESPN – Clemson vs. LSU

Because of their loss to South Carolina to end the season, Clemson dropped from a possible at-large bid team to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. They’ll face the LSU Tigers on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta. Because of the proximity and size of the Clemson fan base, and the travelling reputation of the LSU faithful, the Georgia Dome should have a great crowd on December 31.

As we all know, the ACC hasn’t fared well against the SEC lately. Clemson narrowly beat a very bad Auburn team to open the season in the Georgia Dome, and then lost by 10 to in-state rival South Carolina to close the season. To top it off, the Gamecocks were missing All-American tailback Marcus Lattimore, and Clemson still couldn’t win.

It would be a big win for the ACC if Clemson could manage to beat LSU. However, history says they won’t.

Sun Bowl – December 31, 2pm, CBS – Georgia Tech vs. USC

Georgia Tech played a good game against Florida State on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets gave the Noles a much better game than expected. That said, they are still a 6-7 football team that had to get a waiver from the NCAA to qualify for a bowl game.

Their reward will be a trip to the Sun Bowl for the second straight season. They will face the USC Trojans and Lane Kiffin, who finished the season 7-5 and unranked after being preseason #1 in the AP Poll. It was a tough year for USC, and like most Lane Kiffin coached teams, you just don’t know how they’ll play on a week to week basis.

From a pure talent standpoint, the Trojans should win this game. However, USC has underachieved all year, and it’s tough to say whether their players will care very much about the Sun Bowl. If Georgia Tech plays like they did on Saturday night, they’ll have a chance to win.

Music City Bowl – December 31, Noon, ESPN – NC State vs. Vanderbilt

The Wolfpack will head to Nashville for another ACC vs. SEC matchup. Offensive coordinator Dana Bible will serve as interim head coach for the month of December, following the firing of Tom O’Brien. This will be a tough matchup for NC State and Bible, for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost, Vanderbilt is a good team. They are 8-4 overall, and they won the last six games of the regular season. They are on a roll, and they appear to be a well-coached team under James Franklin. Second, Vanderbilt is located in Nashville, so this will essentially be a home game for the Commodores.

I believe that both of those factors give Vanderbilt the advantage heading into this game.

Russell Athletic Bowl – December 28, 5:30pm, ESPN – Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers

Virginia Tech, after a disappointing 6-6 season, will head south to sunny Orlando. There the players will have an opportunity to go to Disney World, and also to face former Big East foe Rutgers. It’s not the bowl matchup that the Hokies expected when the season began, though it’s a good bowl for a 6-6 team.

Virginia Tech won the last 11 meetings with Rutgers, dating from 1993 through 2003. The teams haven’t faced each other since the Hokies departed the Big East for the ACC. These teams are very similar, with both featuring a offenses to go along with good defenses that have solid statistical rankings across the board.

Both teams probably feel pretty good about their chances in this game, as long as they can limit turnovers and not make mistakes on special teams. That has been easier said than done this year, for both teams.

Belk Bowl – December 27, 6:30pm, ESPN – Duke vs. Cincinnati

Ignore the fact that Duke hasn’t won a football game since they upset North Carolina way back in October. The Blue Devils, at 6-6, are still going bowling for the first time since the 1994 season. Not only are they going bowling, but they are also playing in their own home state. There is no basketball game that day, so Duke should have a good crown in Charlotte for the game against the Bearcats.

Can Duke win the game? Well, their defense has shown its true colors since the win over UNC. The Blue Devils haven’t been able to stop anybody. Their offense is still solid, and they can keep the team in the game. Perhaps the emotions of playing in a bowl game for the first time in nearly two decades will help them overcome Cincinnati’s overall talent advantage.

Cincinnati is probably the better team, but don’t rule Duke out. There are bowl upsets each and every year, and this could potentially be one of them.

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18 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. I hope that the tide crushes ND, I hate all the bandwagon ND fans now. As much as I dislike FSC, Clemson etc. I hope they all win their bowl games. If the ACC could sweep the bowls, (Idon’t think NCSU can beat Vandy or GT beat USC but I am hoping) it would be great for the ACC, money etc. This might calm the waters about the conference.

  2. The ACC has a long way to go. As boring as these are, only the Orange Bowl has one of the league teams as a clear favorite. And you have to qualify that with “if FSU shows up”. Also, the lack of upper level games leaves us with a bunch of boring matchups and in only a couple of locations that interest anyone. Hopefully the league can continue to rise, have all of its programs get clean, and with Notre Dame in the mix, hopefully get can get at least one more upper level game. When Dallas adds a New Year’s game to get the 6/7 teams out of the Big 12 and Big 10, that tells you all you need to know about the draw of the ACC currently. Until we have consistently better teams, that win and draw in bowl games, this will continue to be our bowl fate. This is nothing new, Tech has just directly avoided it for so long by finishing in the top two of the league. After that it’s a huge drop off.

  3. A very good chance Cincy will have coach turnover prior to their game. That can motivate or sink a team.

  4. I certainly hope this will be the historical low mark for ACC Bowling. What a motley crew.and AWFUL match ups. FSU in the Orange Bowl vs. Northern Illinois? Huh?

    1. Careful with regards to NIU. I remember a certain team that didn’t belong in the Sugar Bowl vs. Texas back in ’95.

  5. I’d like to see how NIU fares but the only game that truly sounds interesting is LSU v Clemson, and thats in name only. As stated above we know LSU is going to steamroll Clemson. Unless something tragic happens to LSU they are winning that game. They were one play away from playing in the SECCG remember.

    Of course I’ll watch VT v Rutgers but doesn’t sound to exciting. The rest of the ACC bowl games sound like snoozers as well. Maybe NCST Vandy??

    I think the whole bowl picture in general sucks this year. Florida v Louisville?? C’mon. Feel bad for UGA as the only reason they aren’t playing in a BCS bowl is because they played in their conference championship game. I think it’s retarded that they not only don’t get to play in the national championship because of that loss but also don’t get to play in a BCS game because of that loss. They got hosed. The rest of the BCS games suck as well. Perhaps Oregon v KST will be good but other than that I’m not a fan of any of them. Would have liked to have seen UGA win the other night and see them play ND. Getting a little old seeing bama there every year. I don’t care if it’s the SEC at least another team.

    1. The only reason uga won the sec east is that they didn’t play any challenging teams from the west. USC-e beat heck out of ifs, but lost to lsu (and Florida). Florida beat lsu and Texas a&m, but lost to ug. Uga beat Florida. That’s it.

        1. Bama didn’t play anyone either this year. Very weak schedule for them all around. Only plated 3 concerence teams with winning records and loast one of those games. IMO they are in the NC game based on past reputation and not this years performance. Others are more deserving.

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