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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Best and worst of ACC bowl season

By Heather Dinich

It’s time to review some of the highs and lows from the ACC bowl season (there were highlights, I swear) …

Best performance: NC State cornerback David Amerson had two interceptions in a 31-24 win over Louisville in the Belk Bowl. He broke the ACC single-season record, and also moved into a tie for second place in FBS history for single-season interceptions with 13. The Pack were leading 24-10 in the third quarter when Amerson’s 65-yard interception return for a touchdown broke the record. His second interception late in the game moved him into a tie for second place in FBS history.

Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas
Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas came up big in the Hokies' bowl game loss.
Best offensive performance in a losing effort: Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. He outplayed Michigan’s Denard Robinson in every phase but the scoreboard. He threw for 214 yards and ran for 53. He also had an impressive 13-yard scramble on fourth-and-11. In his first season as a starter, Thomas finished with 3,482 yards of total offense, breaking Tyrod Taylor’s school record, which was set in 2010.

Best team defensive performance: Florida State. The Noles held the Irish scoreless for two quarters, and forced three turnovers, all interceptions.

Best defensive game plan: Virginia Tech. Michigan was in disarray, and Bud Foster had a lot to do with that. Fitzgerald Toussaint was held to just 30 rushing yards, and quarterback Denard Robinson had just 13 rushing yards. Nobody scored on the ground, and Michigan was just 4-of-13 on third-down conversions.

Best on-the-job training: Florida State’s offensive line. The Noles started four freshmen against Notre Dame, and they gave up five sacks, but they also grew up right before our eyes and looked much better in the second half.

Best quote: “I don't care what people think. I made a decision what was best for this football team going forward. When I made the decision and weighing all options and looking at the talent this kid has I knew we would have a quarterback. I don't have to feel vindicated by anybody. … But he helped [vindicate] me." -- NC State coach Tom O’Brien on replacing Russell Wilson with Mike Glennon, who was named the MVP of the Belk Bowl with three touchdowns.

Worst defensive performance. None other than the 70 points Clemson allowed, of course. Most. Points. Ever. In any bowl game. Ever.

Worst moment: The look of devastation on Danny Coale’s face when his would-be 20-yard touchdown catch in overtime was overturned by the replay officials and ruled incomplete.

Worst officiating: The Allstate Sugar Bowl. Take your pick. There were plenty of questionable calls in that game, but the most controversial was probably Coale’s negated touchdown catch. Whether it was a catch or not isn’t the point. Instead, there didn’t seem to be enough indisputable video evidence to overturn the original call of a touchdown.

Worst stat: The ACC dropped to 2-13 in BCS bowls.

Worst stat II: The ACC was outscored by 74 points in its bowl games.

Worst effort: North Carolina played like its coach had one foot out the door. Oh wait, never mind. … Missouri racked up 31 points in the first half. UNC had the ACC’s second-best rushing defense and allowed Missouri 337 rushing yards while UNC had 36.