ACC comes up short again in bowl season

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
2:00
PM ET
Florida State beat the SEC East champs. NC State knocked off a ranked West Virginia team. North Carolina beat Tennessee in a controversial, exciting, double overtime win. And Maryland sent the “Fridge” out with a relentless romp of East Carolina.

What many outside of ACC country will remember from the 2010 bowl season, though, was how Stanford dominated Virginia Tech in the second half of the Discover Orange Bowl.

Oh, and how Georgia Tech lost to Air Force.

And how Notre Dame simply creamed Miami.

Clemson gave South Florida a 2-0 record against the ACC this year. (Maybe the Bulls should join?)

Did anyone even see Boston College’s offense flop against Nevada?

The only way to measure the ACC against other conferences is by its success against them on the field, and following a 4-5 record this bowl season, it wasn’t a year of redemption. The conference fell to 2-11 in its BCS bowls, and Virginia Tech dropped to 1-27 against opponents ranked in the top five teams of the Associated Press poll. It’s not easy to beat top five teams, and Virginia Tech is hardly the only program out there that has struggled to do so. That’s why they call it an “upset.” Stanford was the best team I had seen play this season, and Andrew Luck was probably the best collegiate quarterback I've ever seen. Period.

But in order for the ACC to start gaining some national respect, every once in a while it has to win one of those games -- especially when teams like Georgia Tech and Clemson -- who just a year ago were playing for the ACC title -- both finish with losing seasons. Virginia Tech, Boston College and Clemson were all held under 67 yards rushing. None of them had more than five third-down conversions. Georgia Tech had four turnovers to Air Force. Miami turned the ball over four times to Notre Dame.

The rest of the ACC didn’t exactly help the Hokies out, but Virginia Tech also did what it could in the second half to make Stanford look even better.

Fair or not, though, it’s up to the ACC champ to bear the burden of representing the conference in the biggest game the ACC is associated with. The best the ACC had to offer this year -- Virginia Tech -- gave up 27 unanswered points to Stanford in the second half.

Florida State earned the marquee bowl win for the ACC this year.

Unfortunately for the conference, it didn’t happen in a BCS bowl.

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