ACC: Congressional Bowl

ACC bowl projections

November, 24, 2008
11/24/08
3:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With one week remaining in the regular season, every team in the ACC is either bowl eligible or playing for it on Saturday, with the exception of Duke. NC State, Virginia and Clemson could all become eligible with wins this week.

In order to do this blog post, predictions need to be made for the ACC championship game. It's down to Florida State and Boston College in the Atlantic, and Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech in the Coastal. As of right now, I'll stick with the home teams and say BC and Virginia Tech play for the ACC title on Dec. 6.

Here are educated guesses as to how the rest will shake out:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- The Eagles are down to their backup quarterback, but will face a Maryland team coming off a significant letdown this weekend. BC already beat Virginia Tech once this season, but can they do it with Dominique Davis at quarterback on Dec. 6?

Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Music City Bowl
Prediction: Music City Bowl

CLEMSON -- The Tigers need to beat South Carolina at home in order for this not to be a moot point. That will be tough to do without injured bandit end Ricky Sapp, and against a stingy SC defense.

Possibilities: Emerald Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Congressional Bowl, Music City Bowl
Prediction: The Tigers will be home for the holidays.

FLORIDA STATE -- The Seminoles have an outside shot of playing for the ACC title, but need Maryland to win in Chestnut Hill this weekend. An eight-win season is still impressive enough for one of the better bowls.

Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Gator Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl
Prediction: Chick-fil-A

GEORIGA TECH -- The Yellow Jackets need a Virginia Tech loss in order to have a shot at the Orange Bowl, but stranger things have happened this season. An eight-win season in Paul Johnson's first year makes this team attractive.

Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl
Prediction: Gator Bowl

MARYLAND -- The Terps' chances of playing in the ACC championship game were sacked with Chris Turner last weekend, and now they're playing Boston College for bowl selection this weekend. The Meineke Car Care Bowl has been trying to get the Terps for a while now.

Possibilities: Champs Sports Bowl, Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl
Prediction: Meineke Car Care Bowl

MIAMI -- The Hurricanes' five-game winning streak was snapped, and now there is also the possibility they'll have back-to-back losses, as NC State has something to play for this weekend.

Possibilities: Champs Sports Bowl, Emerald Bowl,
Prediction: Emerald Bowl

NC STATE -- The Wolfpack are one win away from bowl eligibility and they've got the momentum -- and the quarterback -- they need to do it this weekend against Miami.

Possibilities: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Congressional Bowl
Prediction: Congressional Bowl

NORTH CAROLINA -- The Tar Heels have lost back-to-back games, dropped out of the rankings, and could very well lose to a much improved Duke team this weekend. How teams finish the season play a role in where they wind up.

Possibilities: Emerald Bowl, Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl
Prediction: Champs Sports Bowl

VIRGINIA -- The Cavaliers need to beat rival Virginia Tech in Lane Stadium this weekend in order to become bowl eligible. Turnovers have been a costly trend all season, though, and the Hokies have had the upper hand in this rivalry in recent years.

Possibilities: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Congressional Bowl
Prediction: The Cavs will be home for the holidays.

VIRGINIA TECH -- The Hokies looked woeful on offense again last weekend, but that hasn't stopped them all season from controlling their own destiny. A win over Virginia this weekend and the Hokies are in. If they face BC again in the ACC title game, they should have the edge in quarterbacks.

Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A, Konica Minolta Gator Bowl

Pediction: Orange Bowl

WAKE FOREST -- The Demon Deacons are bowl eligible, but the best they can finish is 7-5 with a win over Vanderbilt this weekend. Finding a lucrative bowl excited about a six-loss team isn't easy. Bundle up, Deacs.

Possibilities: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Congressional Bowl, Emerald Bowl

Prediction: Humanitarian Bowl.

State of the ACC: Clemson could lift league

August, 4, 2008
8/04/08
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Florida State isn't gonna look like the program it used to, dadgummit, and unless Bernie Kosar suddenly found an extra year of eligibility, either will Miami.

Doesn't matter -- at least not this year.

The spotlight is on Clemson, and deservedly so. The entire league can stake its reputation on the Tigers this year, but they must deliver with a win in the Orange Bowl if the ACC is going to start chipping away at its embarrassing 1-9 record in BCS games. If Clemson can win on the national stage, then Tommy Bowden should receive thank-you notes from 11 other coaches -- the first one coming priority mail from his "daddy" for diverting some of the attention off another mediocre 7-5 season in Tallahassee.

The realistic coaches in the league -- like NC State's Tom O'Brien -- know that until they start knocking off some storied non-conference programs, the ACC can't be considered among the best in the BCS.

"We haven't proven we can go on the national scene and win games, and until we do that, I don't think you have any leg to stand on to dispute that claim," said O'Brien, whose young team won't have it easy against South Carolina, East Carolina and South Florida before October. "You have to go out and you have to win those nonconference games if you're going to be considered as the top conference in the country."

That means Virginia Tech has to beat Nebraska, Clemson should beat Alabama, Miami needs to beat Florida, and Georgia Tech and Boston College better handle a new-and-improved Notre Dame. Wake Forest also has two SEC opponents on its schedule in Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Only Miami, though, can help the league's 2-17 record against non-conference opponents ranked in the top 10 over the past four years. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, they have to beat the team picked to win the SEC to do it. With a freshman quarterback.

Not going to happen.

Here are a few preseason predictions, though, that might:

* Somebody at Miami will win Rookie of the Year.

But ... somebody else will be ineligible or in trouble.

* Paul Johnson will call more passing plays than he did at Navy.

But ... Georgia Tech will fumble the ball better than anyone and practices quickly close to the

public.

* North Carolina will live up to the hype of a legitimate contender for the ACC title.

But ...

* Maryland will be the conference darkhorse and the Atlantic Division will be a tighter race between Clemson, Wake Forest and the Terps than most people think.
But ...

* Clemson will lose to Wake Forest, win the Atlantic Division, and beat Virginia Tech for its first conference crown since 1991. And then proceed to blow it in the Orange Bowl.

But ...

* The rest of the ACC teams should win enough of their bowl games to improve upon last year's 2-6 record in the postseason. Especially since Ralph Friedgen hired an assistant right off of the Oregon State staff he lost to in the Emerald Bowl.

* There will be a better turnout for the ACC championship in Tampa than there was in Jacksonville because it's a smaller stadium with a broader alumni base.

Speaking of NFL venues, here are a few things that probably won't happen this season in the ACC:

* Miami fans won't like the move to Dolphin Stadium, save for the beer.

- Nobody's going to get fired, but the algrohmustgo web site makes a faster comeback than Florida State and Miami.

* Nine ACC teams won't be bowl eligible, which means the Congressional Bowl reps will have to settle for Navy (if the Midshipmen even qualify) and a MAC team.

* Cullen Harper won't win the Heisman.

* Chris Crane won't make you forget Matt Ryan, and Jeff Jagodzinski won't make Eagles fans forget Tom O'Brien.

* Tyrod Taylor won't redshirt, and Virginia Tech isn't going to miss Branden Ore -- or his lack of discipline -- now that Jahre Cheeseman and Kenny Lewis Jr. are healthy.

* Duke doesn't win more than three games. Hey, that's still triple last year's win total. Let's not push it.

Overall, just about every team in the conference should show improvement this year. The teams in the Triangle are taking the necessary steps to build their programs, and Wake Forest has the staff stability and player potential to build upon its most successful period in school history. What the conference is starving for, though, is a national contender, and right now, that burden falls on the Tigers.

And as Bobby Bowden so eloquently pointed out, his son Tommy, "ain't won nothin' yet."

This year, he's got no excuse not to win.

ACC bowl projections

July, 28, 2008
7/28/08
9:05
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

It's the last year for Boise and the first year for D.C.

To be honest, it's a real toss-up after the first two. And it wouldn't surprise me if Gator Bowl folks went with an 8-4 team instead of a 9-3 Wake Forest team. And, no, I don't think nine ACC teams are going to be bowl-eligible this year. Nonetheless, here's an early look at who might wind up where in the postseason, in order of the bowl selection order:

1. BCS, Orange Bowl -- Clemson

2. Chick-fil-A -- Virginia Tech

3. Konica Minolta Gator Bowl -- Wake Forest

4. Champs Sports Bowl -- Maryland

5. Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl -- Miami

6. Meineke Car Care Bowl -- North Carolina

7. Emerald Bowl -- Florida State

8. Roady's Humanitarian Bowl -- Boston College

9. Congressional Bowl - A MAC team vs. Navy.

ACC in the morning: The Road to Tampa Bay

July, 23, 2008
7/23/08
7:28
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Good morning from Annapolis, Md. No, Paul Johnson is not here, but I still call this place home.

Not that I'm here that often during the season. One of the better trips this year will be to Tampa, for the ACC Championship. Anything has got to be better than the half-empty stadium in Jacksonville, and ACC officials all but promised it will be. The key will be a smaller venue, bigger city and cheaper tickets. More ACC alumni, too. But you know the No. 1 rule in real estate - location, location, location.

So far the rule seems to apply to ACC football, too -- more than half of the seats there are already sold.

Want one? Check out their web site.

In addition to talking up Tampa on Tuesday, ACC commissioner John Swofford gave his take on the state of the ACC yesterday, so that's where much of the news came from. And yes, he is pleased with the way things are going.

Even in the face of numbers like these.

Also addressed on Tuesday in the final day of the ACC football kickoff was the new rule changes. Here's a more in-depth look at the clock change for this season.

Swofford and SEC commissioner Mike Slive are ready for a change in the BCS, but believe it or not, some coaches are OK with the status quo. The coaches in the Triangle don't mind it so much, either.

Speaking of coaches in the Triangle, somebody else noticed how Butch Davis dressed on Monday, too. And David Cutcliffe and Jenny Craig in the same sentence? More on how the Blue Devils slimmed down to shape up.

And more on food -- Gregg Doyel says recruiting at Wake Forest is like is like visiting a seven-course buffet and being allowed to pick only from the salad bowl.

Despite the high hopes for the Carolina schools, Clemson is obviously the best team this year. If the Tigers are going to win it all, though, quarterback Cullen Harper said they will need a little luck.

It appears Florida State has the speed. Who's the fastest at FSU? Redshirt freshman Brandon Paul is ready for a "race-off" to find out.

Elsewhere in Florida, former Miami coach Larry Coker is gearing up for his second season as a TV analyst for ESPN but hasn't ruled out returning to the sidelines. Click here for his take on that and the Hurricanes' move to Dolphin Stadium.

Back to the BCS -- remember that excuse for not going with the plus-one, that whole thing about academics?

Well, how about playing in the Congressional Bowl the same day you've got a final exam? Given its locale, Maryland would be a natural fit for this game. Given its potential, it won't have to worry about it.

The bigger question is who -- if anyone -- will qualify for it.

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