ACC: Emerald Bowl

Emerald Bowl

December, 6, 2009
Emerald Bowl: Boston College (8-4) vs. USC (8-4)

Dec. 26, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

It’s going to be a daunting trip out west for the Eagles, who have struggled on the road against better competition all season, and make no mistake, there is more separation between these two programs right now than their 8-4 records indicate. BC’s offense is still a work in progress under quarterback Dave Shinskie, who has thrown 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this year, but USC has also had its growing pains under true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, who completed 184 of 315 attempts for 2,385 yards, 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

The highlights for both offenses have been their running backs, as Joe McKnight led the Trojans in rushing with 1,014 yards and eight touchdowns on 164 carries. BC sophomore running back Montel Harris rushed for 1,355 yards and 13 scores.

The Eagles were picked by the media to finish last in the ACC Atlantic Division, but rallied together in coach Frank Spaziani’s first season to extend their season with a bowl game for the 11th straight year. In contrast, USC fell far below its preseason expectations and out of the Associated Press top 25 rankings entirely after its loss to Arizona on Saturday. It was the first time in the program’s past 102 games it dropped out of the rankings.

Both teams have shown vulnerabilities this year, but for BC, it was expected. USC, on the other hand, was ranked No. 4 this preseason and enters the bowl game having lost three of its final five regular season games.

Final 2008 ACC power rankings

January, 14, 2009

Posted by's Heather Dinich

The bowl season provided reasons for change from the top to the bottom in the final version of the power ranking. Remember, this is all based on 2008, not what 2009 might look like. We'll save that one for later.

Here is the final list:

  Mark Zerof/US Presswire
  Darren Evans' 153 rushing yards helped lead Virginia Tech in its Orange Bowl win.

1. Virginia Tech (10-4) -- The Hokies gave the ACC its first BCS bowl win since 1999 and broke the league's eight-game losing streak in those games. It was their fifth straight 10-win season under Frank Beamer, and they finished the season on a four-game winning streak.

2. Florida State (9-4) -- Their convincing 42-13 win over Wisconsin was the ACC's only other bowl win over a team from a BCS conference, and the Noles finished with more than eight wins for the first time since 2004. They never lost back-to-back games.

3. Georgia Tech (9-4) -- The Yellow Jackets are a better team than the one that showed up for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but their 38-3 loss to LSU and the other results forced them to sink a few notches. Still, they won two of their last three games, including a statement win over rival Georgia.

4. Wake Forest (8-5) -- What separates the Demon Deacons from the other 8-5 teams is how they finished the season -- with back-to-back wins. They redeemed themselves in what was virtually a home game for Navy in the EagleBank Bowl, and had one of their best offensive performances all season.

5. Maryland (8-5) -- The Terps ended the season on a positive note with their win over Nevada, and that helped ease the disappointment of losing three of their last four regular-season games. Instead of worrying about missed opportunities, they took care of the one they were given.

6. Boston College (9-5) -- Yes, they have nine wins, but the Eagles also ended the season with back-to-back losses, a struggling offense and a fired coach. Instead of concentrating on Vanderbilt -- a team both Wake Forest and Duke were able to beat during the regular season -- the Eagles were stuck on what could have been.

7. North Carolina (8-5) -- The Tar Heels lost three of their last four games, including the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but it wasn't as if UNC got blown out by West Virginia. They countered Pat White with Hakeem Nicks, but it wasn't enough as UNC couldn't get its running game going in the 31-30 loss.

8. Clemson (7-6) -- The Tigers ended the season the way it began -- floundering on offense. Clemson finished with just four rushing yards in a 26-21 loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, but deserve credit for a 4-3 finish under Dabo Swinney.

9. NC State (6-7) -- The Wolfpack made progress in Tom O'Brien's second season by earning a bowl bid, but depended too heavily upon quarterback Russell Wilson down the stretch. With no other answer, NC State relinquished a first-half lead and Rutgers snapped the Wolfpack's four-game winning streak.

10. Miami (7-6) -- The Hurricanes collapsed at the end, ending the season with three straight losses, one less quarterback and no offensive coordinator. A good effort against Cal in the Emerald Bowl was negated by fourth-quarter mistakes.

11. Virginia (5-7) -- The Cavaliers remain status quo after being just one of two ACC teams not to play in a bowl game this season.

12. Duke (4-8) -- The Blue Devils were only two wins shy of bowl eligibility in David Cutcliffe's first season and he is already talking about the potential for 2009.

Breaking down the Emerald Bowl

December, 26, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

In keeping with the mini bowl previews I've been doing, here's a closer look at the Emerald Bowl, starting with three reasons why Miami will win:

1. Cal's offensive line. The Golden Bears are down three starters and a reserve from its preseason depth chart, and junior college transfer Donovan Edwards, who's not physically there yet, has been exploited at times at tackle.

2. Cal's issues at quarterback. It looks like Nate Longshore will start in place of Kevin Riley. The Golden Bears broke in an entirely new group of receivers from 2007, and they never really got in sync. The passing game has been somewhat of a weakness this season.

3. Miami's ability to pressure quarterbacks. Although they are the worst team in the FBS when it comes to interceptions (they only have four this season), the Canes rank 20th nationally in tackles for loss and are tied for 25th with 30 sacks this season. Miami has the No. 13 pass defense in the country.

Here are three reasons why they won't win:

1. Location, location, location. Miami had to travel about 3,000 miles to play this game, while Cal had to go about six and a half. Cal is undefeated at home this season.

2. Running back Jahvid Best. He ranks fifth nationally in rushing, averaging 126.7 yards per game. He was the Pac-10's leading rusher with 1,394 yards and 13 touchdowns during the regular season. Best also ranked second in the conference in scoring with 84 points and led the Pac-10 with 183.5 all-purpose yards per game.

3. Cal's defense. The Golden Bears' defense was second in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, behind only USC with an average of 20.2 points. Cal ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin (+1.17) having forced 32 turnovers which includes 23 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Cal is also tied for 13th nationally in sacks while overall the Golden Bears rank 24th in total defense and 27th in scoring defense. They'll be pressuring true freshman quarterback Jacory Harris, who is making just his second career start, all game.

Will Harris start for Miami in '09?

December, 26, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There is a reason Miami coach Randy Shannon hasn't expressed any concern over losing his starting quarterback for the Emerald Bowl, and the reason is Jacory Harris. The question is whether or not Shannon will lose his starting quarterback, period.

At this time of year, it's hard not to look ahead, and while Harris says he's not considering the bowl game an audition for next season, it probably is.

Then again, if starter Robert Marve should decide to transfer, Harris would be the obvious choice to replace him. It will only be Harris' second start of the season, but he has proven capable of winning before -- including when Marve was suspended for the season opener.

The problem now is the speculation. Check out this recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Take all those numbers, add in Marve's two suspensions, and it's easy to see why speculation is high that Harris will be Miami's starting quarterback in 2009. A strong performance in the Emerald Bowl certainly won't hurt Harris' chances of winning the job, either, but he said he won't let himself took at the game in those terms.

Marve's second suspension was peculiar. He didn't actually miss a fourth class, he was 15 minutes late to it because he was talking to another professor and had verification of that. It was the last day of classes. If there is more to this story, Shannon obviously hasn't shared it. Marve and his family have reason to be frustrated, but don't want to be a distraction during the bowl week.

Only after the Emerald Bowl will we find out if Miami will ring in the New Year with a new quarteback.

Miami looking to improve run defense against Cal

December, 23, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

Miami senior linebacker Glenn Cook said it's not uncommon to see defensive coordinator Bill Young walking around the football building or in his office joking and smiling.

Not recently, though.

Not after Young's defense allowed an average of 345.5 rushing yards in the past two games, both of which were losses.

"He was not pleased with that," Cook said, "so we really worked hard on that. I think we've improved."

Instead of peaking at the end of the season, Miami's rushing defense seemed to take a step back, and it's going to have to reassert itself on Saturday against Cal in the Emerald Bowl in order to have a chance to win. Jahvid Best ended the regular season with 1,394 rushing yards -- the fourth-highest total in school history.

Cook said Miami's game plan is to force Cal into long passing situations, but the Hurricanes are wary of Cal's passing game, too.

"We're going in trying to stop the run," Cook said. "Jahvid Best, he's a real good running back, really explosive. You'll see on film where he'll break one for 50 for a touchdown."

During Miami's five-game winning streak, the Hurricanes allowed just 97.8 rushing yards per game and held three opponents -- Central Florida, Virginia Tech and Virginia -- to under 78 rushing yards each. It started to unravel, though, at Georgia Tech, when the Canes were run over for 472 yards, just 17 yards shy of what all five opponents combined for during Miami's five-game winning streak.

"Georgia Tech, we really didn't play very sound that game," Cook said. "You go back to watching film and it was very small things that hurt us. Against an offense like that you can't do that. We missed a lot of tackles the last two games of the season. We've gotten back to fundamental tackling drills and getting in position and pursuit angles. We went back to the small things these last couple days and really worked on technique and fundamentals and getting back to our style of football."

ACC bowl projections

December, 1, 2008

Posted by's Heather Dinich

There are 10 bowl-eligible teams for nine ACC tie-ins. Messy, just like the season was. There is an NCAA rule that forces bowls to select seven-win teams over six-win teams, and that could mean trouble for NC State. More likely, it means an at-large selection. While ACC officials try to figure that one out, here are this week's predictions for everyone:

BOSTON COLLEGE -- BC fans shouldn't have to worry about being slighted by the bowl selection committees this season. The Eagles have everything they need to make it to the Orange Bowl, including confidence from the fact they've already beaten Virginia Tech this season.
Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl, Music City Bowl
Prediction: Orange Bowl

CLEMSON -- The Tigers threw the bowl picture out of whack when they became bowl eligible with their win over South Carolina. Their addition means everyone else is likely to get bumped a notch.
Possibilities: Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Emerald Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Eagle Bank Bowl
Prediction: Music City Bowl

FLORIDA STATE -- The Noles took a pounding from Florida, but they're still an attractive eight-win team that should be one of the top picks. A trip to Jacksonville to face Nebraska makes sense at the expense of Georgia Tech.
Possibilities: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl
Prediction: Gator Bowl

GEORGIA TECH -- This team deserves to be in one of the top bowls, especially after beating rival Georgia, but FSU would bring a "home" crowd and be a lucrative matchup for the Gator Bowl folks.
Possibilities: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl
Prediction: Champs Sports Bowl

MARYLAND -- In a matter of two weeks, the Terps went from contender to pretender. Instead of seeing orange, they're more likely to see blue, as in Smurf Turf blue. You get what you play for. They can't play in the Eagle Bank Bowl because the date conflicts with their exam schedule.
Possibilities: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Emerald Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.
Prediction: Roady's Humanitarian Bowl.

MIAMI -- The Hurricanes didn't finish strong, but they still had a much better season than a year ago, and the fact they're even playing in a bowl game proves it. An invitation from the Champs Sports Bowl would be surprising.
Possibilities: Champs Sports Bowl, Music City Bowl, Emerald Bowl
Prediction: Emerald Bowl

NC STATE -- This is where the confusion comes in, because of the NCAA rule. There should be a few bowls out there, though, still looking for a team. Count the Motor City Bowl among them, since Ohio State should be in a BCS Bowl.
Possibilities: Meineke Car Care Bowl, Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Eagle Bank Bowl, Independence Bowl, Texas Bowl, Motor City Bowl,
Prediction: Motor City (at-large)

NORTH CAROLINA -- The Tar Heels won't be home for Christmas, but they might be very close. This is where the pecking order will come into play, with Music City, Meineke Car Care and Emerald either having to agree, or going in that order. Since Music City can go first, odds are it scoops up Clemson.
Possibilities: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Emerald Bowl
Prediction: Meineke Car Care Bowl

VIRGINIA TECH -- The Chick-fil-A Bowl doesn't have to pick the ACC runner-up, but in this case it would make sense. LSU and South Carolina would both be good matchups.
Possibilities: Orange Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Gator Bowl
Prediction: Chick-fil-A Bowl

WAKE FOREST -- The Demon Deacons and Miami seem like the two most likely candidates for this inaugural bowl, and a rematch against Navy could be interesting. It would also be a no-win situation for the Deacs, who should have beaten the Middies the first time around.

Possibilities: Meineke Car Care Bowl, Emerald Bowl, Humanitarian Bowl, Eagle Bank Bowl
Prediction: Eagle Bank Bowl

ACC bowl projections

November, 24, 2008

Posted by'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.

ACC bowl projections

July, 28, 2008

Posted by'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.



Monday, 12/22
Saturday, 12/20
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12