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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Ranking the ACC bowl games

By Andrea Adelson

Now that the college bowl games are out, it is time to rank 'em!

Colleague Mark Schlabach has his list of all 35 games, from best to worst. Here is where Schlabach has ranked the ACC games:

No. 4 Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson, Dec. 31, Atlanta.

Our take: There is no two ways around this ranking -- the Chick-fil-A Bowl should be one of the best in the bowl season, better than just about every BCS bowl game that is not the national championship. It is a marquee matchup of SEC vs. ACC, and this is a HUGE opportunity for a league that went 0-4 vs. SEC opponents on the final week of the regular season. How does All-American Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd stack up against one of the best defenses in the land? Didn't go so well for him against South Carolina.

No. 8 Discover Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State, Jan. 1, Miami.

Our take: I'm not sure this game would have ranked any higher had Louisville been the opponent, quite honestly. Given all the hubbub over the Huskies' inclusion, I'm betting the Orange Bowl may get better TV ratings with this matchup. And don't expect this one to be a walk over for the Noles, either. Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch is a player to watch.

No. 14 Hyundai Sun Bowl, USC vs. Georgia Tech, Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas.

Our take: Perhaps this qualifies as the third-best game on the slate because the Jackets are playing the former No. 1 team in the nation, but this is going to be the toughest matchup for the ACC to win by far. How will the Jackets slow down Marqise Lee, especially if Matt Barkley is ready to go?

No. 17 Russell Athletic Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers, Dec. 28, Orlando, Fla.

Our take: Hey, it is a former Big East battle! Does that have your juices flowing yet? Didn't think so. This is a game that features little to nothing in the way of offensive firepower. Logan Thomas and Gary Nova have combined to throw 29 interceptions this year. Oh, and Virginia Tech is 0-2 against the Big East already on the season.

No. 21 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, NC State vs. Vanderbilt, Dec. 31, Nashville, Tenn.

Our take: I think this one should be ranked higher than the Sun and Russell Athletic Bowls, because I think this is going to be a much better game. James Franklin has a familiarity with NC State, and I think the Wolfpack will be motivated, even without coach Tom O'Brien on the sideline. It should be noted that Vanderbilt has not beaten one team with a winning record this season.

No. 25 Belk Bowl, Cincinnati vs. Duke, Dec. 27, Charlotte, N.C.

Our take: I would probably rank this one higher than the Sun Bowl because I think it has the potential to be a much more fun game to watch. The Blue Devils are going to be fired up in their first bowl appearance since 1994 and will get some home-field advantage playing in-state. Cincinnati has a terrific rushing game that Duke is going to have to slow down.