ACC: Belk Bowl

Ranking the ACC's bowls

December, 11, 2012
There are only six ACC bowls this year, as the conference did not fill its eight bowl tie-ins (though it would have had Miami and North Carolina not been ineligible). All of them have interesting storylines, but some are more intriguing than others. As for which one is actually going to give us the best, most entertaining game between two legitimately good teams? No. 1 is a no-brainer. The rest? Take your pick.

Here’s a look at how this year’s ACC bowl lineup stacks up, from best to worst:

1. Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson (Dec. 31: ESPN, 7:30 p.m. ET, Georgia Dome, Atlanta) – This is a chance for the Tigers to redeem themselves against an SEC defense after flopping in a 27-17 loss to South Carolina. More importantly, it’s a chance for Clemson to further distance itself from last year’s humiliating loss to West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl.

2. Hyundai Sun Bowl: USC vs. Georgia Tech (Dec. 31: CBS, 2 p.m. ET, Sun Bowl, El Paso, Texas) – The Yellow Jackets needed a waiver from the NCAA to play in this game. Paul Johnson is trying to win his first bowl game with the program. At 7-5, USC was one of the most disappointing teams in the country this year. Neither team has played spectacular defense this year, and both have lost their coordinators for different reasons.

3. Discover Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State (Jan. 1: ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET, Sun Life Stadium, Miami) – Don’t write this one off just yet. Remember Boise State-Oklahoma? Remember Alabama-Utah? This is a game FSU should win, but the Noles also should have beaten NC State.

4. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State vs. Vanderbilt (Dec. 31: ESPN, noon ET, LP Field, Nashville, Tenn.) – Dana Bible will be coaching in place of Tom O’Brien, who was fired at the end of the season. Vanderbilt will be playing in back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history.

5. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Duke (Dec. 27: ESPN, 6:30 p.m. ET, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.) – Duke is playing in its first bowl game since 1994, a reason in itself to watch. The Blue Devils need to end the season on a positive note, though, after losing five of their last six games.

6. Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 28: ESPN, 5:30 p.m. ET, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Fla.) – The Hokies are 0-2 against the Big East this year with losses to Pitt and Cincinnati. A loss to Rutgers would mean the program’s first losing season since 1992. This is an important step toward turning things around for 2013.

ACC announces bowl lineup

December, 2, 2012
The ACC has officially announced its bowl lineup.

ACC champion Florida State will face Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013 in the 79th annual Discover Orange Bowl. The game will have an 8:30 p.m. kickoff (ET) and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

In addition to the Seminoles, Clemson (Chick-fil-A), Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic), Georgia Tech (Hyundai Sun), Duke (Belk), and NC State (Franklin American Mortgage Music City), all accepted bowl invitations.

From the ACC's release:
Florida State (11-2; 7-1 ACC), ranked 12th in the final BCS standings, captured its 13th ACC title since joining the league in 1992. But the ACC gridiron title is the Seminoles' first in eight seasons, and its first berth in a BCS bowl game since claiming the inaugural ACC Football Championship Game in 2005. FSU, coached by Jimbo Fisher, has now posted a 30-10 record over the past three seasons and will be making its ninth appearance in the Discover Orange Bowl, last facing Penn State in the 2006 classic, a triple overtime loss to Penn State. The Seminoles will be facing Northern Illinois, 12-1, and champions of the Mid-American Conference and ranked 15th in the final BCS Standings. Florida State is 3-5 in its previous eight Orange Bowl appearances but is 25-14-2 overall in 41 bowl games, a winning percentage of .634, the sixth-best winning percentage nationally among teams with 15 or more bowl appearances. Ironically, Northern Illinois’ head coach, Dave Doeren has been hired by FSU’s Atlantic Division rival NC State, and will not coach in the bowl game.

Clemson (10-2; 7-1 ACC), ranked 14th in the final BCS Standings, and co-champions of the ACC’s Atlantic Division, will be making its eighth appearance in an Atlanta bowl game when the Tigers face 8th-ranked LSU (10-2) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in the Georgia Dome on Monday, December 31. The game will have a 7:30 p.m. (ET) kickoff and will be nationally televised by ESPN. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has guided the Tigers to back-to-back 10-win seasons, the first for Clemson since the 1989-90 seasons. The game will mark the first meeting between these two sets of Tigers since the 1996 Peach Bowl, the predecessor of the current Chick-fil-A Bowl. LSU, currently coached by Les Miles, has won both previous meetings between the two teams, including a 10-7 decision in 1996. The game will be Clemson’s 35th appearance in a bowl game and their fifth straight bowl berth under Swinney. The Tigers have a 16-18 overall bowl record.

Virginia Tech (6-6, 4-4, ACC), will be making its first appearance in the Russell Athletic Bowl, which will be played on Friday, Dec. 28, in Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl stadium. The game will have a 5:30 p.m. kickoff and will be nationally televised on ESPN. The Hokies of Coach Frank Beamer, who is the winningest active coach in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Championship Subdivision with 257 career triumphs, will face Rutgers (9-3) of the Big East Conference. Beamer is currently tied with former BYU coach LaVell Edwards for 6th place on the all-time NCAA FBS wins list. The game will mark the 15th meeting between the two teams in a series which began in 1920, but it is their first game since 2003 when both were members of the Big East Conference. Tech, which is 9-16 in its 25 previous bowl trips, has an 11-3 advantage in its series with the Scarlet Knights.

Georgia Tech (6-7, 5-3), the ACC’s Coastal Division champions, are making their second straight trip to the Hyundai Sun Bowl, which will be played on Monday, Dec. 31 in El Paso, Texas. The game, the 79th Annual Sun Bowl, will have a 2 p.m. (ET) kickoff and will be nationally televised by CBS-TV. The Yellow Jackets of coach Paul Johnson will be meeting the Trojans of Southern California (7-5) of the Pac-12 Conference, coached by Lane Kiffin. The meeting is the first between the two teams since 1973, when Tech dropped 23-6 decision to the then-No. 1-ranked Trojans. The Jackets are 1-2 against USC. Tech is making its 41st appearance in a postseason bowl game and has posted a 22-18 record, which ranks as the 15th-best winning percentage among teams with 15 or more appearances. USC, which has a 32-16 (.667) record in bowl games, has the 2nd-best winning percentage. Tech dropped a 30-27 overtime decision to Utah in last year’s Hyundai Sun Bowl.

Duke (6-6, 3-5), under the direction of ACC Coach of the Year David Cutcliffe, is making its first bowl appearance since 1994, when it faces Big East foe Cincinnati (9-3) in the Belk Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 27 in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. The game will have a 6:30 p.m. kickoff and will be nationally televised by ESPN. Duke will be facing the Bearcats, who are coached by Butch Jones, for the first time. Duke is making its ninth bowl trip and has posted a 3-5 record in postseason games. The Blue Devils last bowl trip was a 34-20 loss to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl Game in Tampa, Fla. The game marks the first appearance by the Blue Devils in a bowl game in North Carolina.

NC State (7-5, 3-5 ACC) is making its third straight bowl appearance when it faces Southeastern Conference foe Vanderbilt (8-4) in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31 at noon in Nashville, Tenn. The game will be played in Nashville’s LP Field and will be nationally televised by ESPN. The Wolfpack are making their third straight bowl appearance and fourth in the last five years. Interim head coach and offensive coordinator Dana Bible will guide the team against the Commodores as the school awaits the arrival of its new head coach Dave Doeren, who guided Northern Illinois to back-to-back MAC Championships. State will making its 27th bowl appearance and has a 14-11-1 record (.558), having recently claimed back-to-back triumphs over West Virginia in the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl and Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl. State’s bowl winning percentage is 14th best nationally among schools with 15 or more bowl appearances. The game is only the second between the two schools in football and the first in 66 years as the Wolfpack dropped a 7-0 decision at Vanderbilt in 1946.

Ranking the ACC bowls

December, 6, 2011
My colleague Mark Schlabach ranked each of the 35 bowl matchups, and it wouldn't be a typical day at the office if I didn't disagree with him on at least one. For the most part, we're on the same page, but I think NC State's matchup with Louisville will be slightly more compelling than Wake Forest and Mississippi State. You've got Schlabach's version. Here's mine:

1. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Virginia Tech will have the best chance to make a statement in the ACC against No. 13 Michigan. It's a chance for the Hokies to prove that they can win on a big stage outside of the ACC.

2. Discover Orange Bowl: The Tigers should beat West Virginia, but it's not a guarantee. The Mountaineers' offense, which is No. 19 in the country in scoring, will give Clemson some problems.

3. Champs Sports Bowl: The ACC is 0-3 against Notre Dame so far this season, but Florida State will be the league's best chance at changing that. They're going to need more offensively, though, than they've shown in recent weeks.

4. Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia will have a chance to take advantage of an Auburn team that looks nothing like its 2010 form. Auburn hasn't put together back-to-back wins since the last weekend in September.

5. Hyundai Sun Bowl: This game will pit the nation's No. 3 rushing offense against the No. 7 rushing defense, and Georgia Tech will try to snap a six-game losing streak in bowl games.

6. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: North Carolina will get Missouri's last performance as a member of the Big 12 before moving to the SEC next year, and the Tar Heels will be looking to send interim coach Everett Withers out with a win.

7. Belk Bowl: This is a matchup between two teams that finished on hot streaks. NC State had two of the ACC's most memorable wins of the season with an upset of Clemson and the school's biggest comeback in school history against Maryland.

8. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Wake Forest and Mississippi State are two 6-6 teams who struggled down the stretch. The Bulldogs lost two of their last three, and the Deacs lost four of their last five.