- Heather Dinich, College Football Reporter
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The reality of the situation is that even the best ACC players right now are in the shadow of the stars of undefeated teams: K-State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner -- and even Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel. That shouldn’t take away from the spectacular performances we’ve seen in the ACC. Regardless of what the competition has been, what the perception of the ACC might be, these two players deserve to be considered for a trip to New York:
1. North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard: He is simply one of the most electrifying and productive players in the nation. He ranks second in the nation in scoring, third in all-purpose yards, fourth in punt return average and eighth in rushing (yards per game). Bernard has 17 touchdowns this season and needs four to equal the single-season school record of 21 set by Don McCauley in 1970. He ran for more than 100 yards against Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke and NC State. Bernard has 1,008 rushing yards and is the first Carolina player with back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons since Natrone Means in 1991 (1,030) and 1992 (1,195).
2. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd: Boyd is second in the nation and first in the ACC in passing efficiency with a 172.0 rating. That would be a Clemson record if the season ended today. He has 28 touchdown passes for the season, ranking second in school history, behind only the 33 he had last year. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes in the past three games, all in the first half. Boyd now has a 19-5 career record as a starting quarterback. This year, Boyd is 210-for-309 for 2,941 yards and 28 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. He is averaging 9.52 yards per attempt, on pace to break Bobby Gage’s record of 9.19 set back in 1947.
Also consider: Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. He’s the face of the ACC’s best team and most likely headed to the ACC championship game. His completion percentage of 66.9 makes him one of the most accurate passers in ACC history. Last week, Manuel connected for his first game-winning TD pass on the final drive of a game in his career, hitting Rashad Greene with 40 seconds left to defeat Virginia Tech 28-22.
The reality of the situation is that even the best ACC players right now are in the shadow of the stars of undefeated teams: K-State quarterback Collin Klein, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Oregon running back Kenjon Barner -- and even Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel.