ACC: Meineke Car Care Bowl

Stepping up in the bowls: Clemson

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
3:30
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Clemson needs to beat South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl to avoid its first losing season since 1998, but as Miami proved in its loss to the Bulls, nobody is invincible.

In order for the Tigers to have a better outcome, who needs to step up?

Parker
Parker
Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker: The last pass Parker threw was an interception in a loss to rival South Carolina. That didn’t exactly sit well. Instead of quitting early on his team, the first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies decided to stick around for one more game and give it his best shot to end his career on a positive note. It’s not going to be easy, as South Florida has the nation’s No. 21 pass defense and No. 19 scoring defense. Parker has completed 62.4 percent of his passes over the past six games, but it’s that INT against the Gamecocks that fans will remember if he doesn’t find a way to beat the Bulls.

Meineke Car Care Bowl

December, 6, 2009
12/06/09
8:51
PM ET
North Carolina (8-4) vs. Pitt (9-3)

Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m., (ESPN)

For the second straight season, the Tar Heels will head back to Charlotte to face one of the better teams in the Big East. Last year’s 31-30 loss to West Virginia was one of the ACC’s most entertaining bowls, but UNC has missed the offensive playmakers this season that made it that way.

While this could have been a much better season for UNC, it also could have been a much bigger disaster. Instead, the Tar Heels made an impressive turnaround that began with a stunning road upset of Virginia Tech and are making back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1997.

UNC won four of its last five games, and has won five straight over ranked teams dating back to last season. UNC’s defense, which has been the reason for its success, will be tasked with slowing down Pitt’s standout freshman running back, Dion Lewis, who ranks third in the nation in rushing.

No. 17 Pitt is coming off a disappointing loss to Cincinnati in the Big East championship, but has the No. 16 scoring offense in the country at 33.17 points per game. Carolina has the ACC’s top defense and ranks sixth in the country, allowing just 267.8 yards per game. The Tar Heels are also No. 9 in run defense, No. 13 in pass efficiency defense and No. 13 in scoring defense.

To add a little extra motivation to this bowl game, UNC will have to prepare for Pitt knowing that their rival, NC State, was able to beat the Panthers.

Final 2008 ACC power rankings

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
9:12
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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.

ACC helmet stickers: Bowl edition

January, 12, 2009
1/12/09
12:18
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Now that that national championship game is over, ESPN.com is officially putting a cap on the 2008 season. We're kicking it off today with a bowl edition of helmet stickers. The ACC won four of its 10 bowl games, with Virginia Tech, Florida State, Maryland and Wake Forest earning postseason victories.

Here are the ACC's top performers during the bowls:

Virginia Tech's backups: Offensive guard Jaymes Brooks, linebacker Barquell Rivers and defensive end Nekos Brown filled in for Tech's missing starters and the Hokies didn't miss a beat. Brooks played all 78 snaps as the Hokies put up nearly 400 yards of total offense. Brown and Rivers helped limit the high-powered Cincinnati offense to just one touchdown and Rivers had a key stop on fourth-and-goal at the 1 to help seal the game.

Virginia Tech tailback Darren Evans: Evans ran for 153 yards and a score, earning FedEx Orange Bowl MVP honors in the Hokies' 20-7 win over Cincinnati.

Virginia Tech's defense: The Hokies grabbed four interceptions, held Cincinnati to 71 yards rushing and 310 yards of offense. They didn't allow any touchdowns after the first drive.

UNC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks: In what became the final game of his career, Nicks caught eight receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including ESPN's No. 1 bowl play of the season -- a behind-the-back catch. It was a standout performance in a losing effort, as the Tar Heels fell, 31-30, to West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Florida State kicker Graham Gano: He averaged 48.2 yards on five punts and had three downed inside Wisconsin's 5-yard line to earn MVP honors. Gano placed three first-quarter punts inside the 4-yard line, including two at the 1.

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder: He threw for 199 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 42-13 romp over Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. It was a dramatic improvement from the last 10 games of the regular season during which he threw six touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott: After being benched for 2 1/2 quarters for a curfew violation, Scott came in and ran 14 times for 174 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the Terps' 42-35 win over Nevada. His 49-yard touchdown run with 12:21 left put Maryland ahead 35-28, and Scott became the seventh back in Maryland history to top 1,000 yards.

Wake Forest offensive lineman Jeff Griffin: After starting 11 games at right tackle, Griffin moved to right guard and graded out at 94 percent (65 offensive plays, 61 plays graded positive), led the team with 18.5 knockdown blocks and didn't have one missed assignment. Wake Forest rushed for a season-high 239 yards and outrushed Navy 239-221 in the 29-19 win over Navy in the EagleBank Bowl. Griffin paved the way for Kevin Harris to rush for 136 yards, the most by a Demon Deacon this season. Wake Forest did not allow a sack.

Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner: He completed all 11 pass attempts against Navy for 166 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed seven times for 29 yards. Trailing Navy 19-14 with 12:30 to play in the game, Skinner drove the Deacons 80 yards in nine plays and finished it off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight Ben Wooster. Skinner was named the game's MVP.

Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers: Bowers had three tackles for loss, the most ever by a Clemson freshman in a bowl game. He finished with five total tackles and three quarterback pressures in the Tigers' 26-21 loss to Nebraska. He was named Clemson's MVP of the Konica Minolta Gator Bowl by the media attending the game.

Quick thoughts on the ACC bowls

January, 2, 2009
1/02/09
11:23
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

With an NCAA-record 10 bowl games, the ACC had a 4-6 finish, capped with a win in the Orange Bowl. Despite its losing record, I'd say the ACC fared pretty well this postseason.

My picks, however, did not.

I got a season-low three games right, with correct calls on Florida State, Miami and Wake Forest. NC State, UNC, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Clemson all let me down, as I picked them to win. All but the Yellow Jackets provided entertaining games, though.

The Meineke Car Care Bowl gets my vote for the best bowl game involving an ACC team, despite the loss. The Chick-fil-A Bowl was easily the worst.

Most everyone had their highs and lows. Overall, it could have been much worse, but there is still room for growth and improvement in the conference, and considering how young it was, we should see some of that next season.

Meineke Car Care Bowl preview

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
9:44
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

WHO TO WATCH: UNC safety Trimane Goddard. He has game-changing ability, having twice intercepted passes on an opponent's final drive to seal a win (Miami and Duke). And against Notre Dame, his fumble recovery clinched Carolina's victory. Goddard is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions, including a 51-yard interception return for a score against Boston College. He has had his best season at Carolina, and is the most experienced player on defense with 30 career starts.

WHAT TO WATCH: Aside from the obvious -- North Carolina's defense on Pat White and Noel Devine -- keep an eye on how UNC overcomes West Virginia's quirky 3-3-5 stack defensive alignment. It could make things more difficult for quarterback T.J. Yates, as it's difficult to determine who the fourth rusher will be, and presents a challenge in pass protection. And with five defensive backs out there, it could be a long day for standout receiver Hakeem Nicks.

WHY TO WATCH: It's the first time North Carolina is in a bowl game since 2004, and it could be the last time Nicks wears a Tar Heel uniform. Nicks has yet to decide whether he wants to leave school early for the NFL draft.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

One of the biggest questions heading into the Meineke Car Care Bowl is obviously how the North Carolina defense is going to contain -- or, more accurately, slow down -- quarterback Pat White.

One of my favorite parts about this job is listening to the coaches actually talk about football -- not bowl gifts, or schedules, or who's starting at quarterback and who's injured -- but the actual Xs and Os.

So, just for fun, I checked out this video. North Carolina fans may have already seen it, but it's one of those things that if you like football, it's kind of neat to watch UNC coach Butch Davis break down game film of West Virginia's read option offense.

Of the three games involving ACC teams on Saturday, this one should be the best.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Not much has gone right the past two seasons for North Carolina linebacker Chase Rice. He suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter of the 2007 season opener and was told he'd miss the entire season. His father passed away in May, making it difficult to concentrate on anything, let alone working his way into the 2008 starting lineup.

At the beginning of this season, Rice was behind Bruce Carter and mainly used in nickel packages and on special teams. As a senior, he was frustrated with his lack of playing time, but made winning the greater priority and helped out where he could. Rice, usually a strongside linebacker, bounced around and played all three linebacker positions against NC State.

Now, as North Carolina prepares to face West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, Rice is back in the starting lineup and confident from one of his best performances. In his first start since taking over for leading tackler Mark Paschal, who suffered a career-ending spine injury against NC State, Rice had a career-high 10 tackles in the Tar Heels' win over Duke.

"At the Duke game they finally gave me an opportunity to play and show what I could do and I feel like I did that," Rice said. "That's all I wanted, was a shot, and they gave that to me in the Duke game and I proved I can step in and play football. That's all I really wanted, was an opportunity and I took advantage of it. That helped me with my confidence, helped me get back into playing in a game situation. I feel confident about where I'm at, how I'm playing and know that I can do the job."

UNC will certainly need Rice -- and the entire defense -- to be sharp against the Mountaineers. UNC started the season with a bang and went out with somewhat of wimper, losing two of its last three games. They're looking to make a statement against the No. 12 rushing offense in the Big East. West Virginia, led by the tandem of quarterback Pat White and running back Noel Devine, is averaging 217.17 rushing yards.

"They make a lot of good decisions," said UNC safety Trimane Goddard. "They're very quick, elusive. You have to do your job. ... It's almost similar to Georgia Tech. It's a different style offense, but the discipline that you need is about equal."

North Carolina's defense, while it has excelled at scoring off turnovers, is 62nd in the nation in total defense and 58th in rushing defense.

"At the beginning of the year we were playing with a swagger, playing with a lot of confidence, having a lot of fun, and we're trying to get back to completely doing that," Rice said. "The way we've been practicing is definitely going to help us do that during the bowl game because we're getting back to having fun playing football, and that's the way the defense plays the best, especially."

Breaking down the Meineke Car Care Bowl

December, 22, 2008
12/22/08
11:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Good morning ACC fans. The conference has three bowl games coming up on Dec. 27, and I've got a few things to help preview the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the Champs Sports Bowl and the Emerald Bowl. Let's start with UNC today.

Here are three reasons why UNC will beat West Virginia:

1. Home crowd. It's UNC's first bowl game since 2004, and Tar Heel fans are eager to see it. UNC sold its allotment of 22,000 tickets and expect more than 40,000 UNC fans at Bank of America Stadium. The Tar Heels are 15-3-2 in Charlotte. Defensive coordinator Everett Withers was born in Charlotte, and six current players are either from Charlotte or the surrounding area. Consider this a home game.

2. Butch Davis and his top playmaker, receiver Hakeem Nicks. The veteran coach will have his players prepared, and they should have some confidence from beating Big East opponents Rutgers and Connecticut during the regular season. Many have wondered how UNC will stop WVU's top two playmakers, but the Tar Heels have their own offensive threat in Nicks. He has already set the school single-season record for receiving yards (60 receptions for 1,005 yards and nine touchdowns).

3. Non-offensive touchdowns. If the offense can't get it going, defense and special teams can. The Tar Heels have scored on four interception returns, one punt return and one blocked punt recovery in the end zone. Safety Trimane Goddard is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions this season, and UNC is eight in the nation with 19.

Here are three reasons why they won't:

1. Quarterback Pat White and running back Noel Devine. The Mountaineers' shifty quarterback has accounted for 83.5 rushing yards per game, and is 35th nationally in passing efficiency with a 135.64 rating. He will be playing his final college game. West Virginia has the nation's No. 12-ranked rushing offense with 217.17 yards per game, and Devine is at the heart of the Mountaineers' running game. He is ranked 22nd nationally with 102.3 rushing yards per game. UNC is allowing 140.75 rushing yards per game.

2. West Virginia's bowl experience. The Mountaineers have been to seven straight bowls and are riding a three-game bowl win streak, including a 38-35 win over Georgia Tech in the January, 2007 Gator Bowl. It's only North Carolina's second bowl since 2001 and first since 2004. Only Goddard has ever played in a bowl game.

3. West Virginia's defense. The Mountaineers lead the Big East and are 12th in the nation in turnover margin, and they're ninth in the country in scoring defense at 16 points per game. They've also got the No. 1-ranked red zone defense in the country.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Ah, the holidays. Time for giving, sharing and arguing with your colleagues. Those of you who have been with us since the beginning might remember the first non-official, official blogger ACC/Big East challenge. Some of you liked it, some of you didn't. Regardless, Big East blogger Brian Bennett and I kept ourselves amused and did it again.

  vs.

Here is Part II of the non-official, official challenge:

Brian Bennett: All right, Heather. Back in September we had some fun debating whether the ACC or the Big East was the worst BCS league. I guess you won that one since the ACC has got like 32 bowl teams, though none of them are ranked higher than Cincinnati. But we've got another round coming in bowl season, when the ACC and Big East meet in three different games. Who's sitting prettier (or less ugly) when the dust clears Jan. 2?

Heather Dinich: Well, the ACC was 2-2 against the Big East during the regular season, and since 2001, the Big East has a better bowl record than the ACC. You guys are 20-14 since then, and the ACC is 27-22. I think that trend will start to tip, though, with the ACC coming out on top this bowl season, 2-1. Sorry, but I'm taking Russell Wilson over Mike Teel, and as for the Meineke Car Care Bowl, they may as well move the game to Chapel Hill ...

BB: I'll agree with you on the Meineke Car Care Bowl, because North Carolina absolutely smoked Rutgers and UConn this year. But I strongly disagree on the Papajohns.com Bowl. Rutgers has been playing lights-out for the past month or so, and unless they're bummed about being in Birmingham, the Scarlet Knights are going to pound NC State like South Florida did earlier this year.

But, really, only one game matters, and that's champs vs. champs. I see by your projected record you're already conceding that Virginia Tech will lose to Cincinnati in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Is that because the ACC hasn't won a BCS game since people were worried about the Y2K problem? And doesn't your league need to win one of these someday to have any credibility?

HD: Strongly disagree? As in, strenuously object? Look, in case you haven't noticed, NC State has kind of been on a hot streak. And the Pack had a better team in their training room for that South Florida game. They were missing their top two playmakers on offense AND defense. The bloggers could've pounded NC State in that game (with me at quarterback, though, not you).

You're right though, only one counts, and the ACC is desperate to win it. Frank Beamer is desperate to win it. The conference is on an eight-game losing streak in its BCS games. Based on experience, I give the coaching edge to Beamer and his staff, but I think Cincinnati's rushing defense will be too good for the Hokies. I'm not sure how they've fared against mobile quarterbacks like Tyrod Taylor, though. And as for having some credibility, talk to me about that after your Big East champs make more than one BCS appearance.

BB: Mobile quarterbacks? Cincinnati had no problems against Pat White and Matt Grothe. Tyrod Taylor is no Pat White.

Yes, it's true that the Bearcats are brand new at this. But winning BCS games is old hat for the Big East. This will be four straight wins, which I'd take over 0-for-9 any day. And Cincinnati should be a top 10 team at the end of the season, which leads to my final question: Is it better for a league to have one highly-ranked team or a bunch of mediocre ones in the 15-to-30 range like the ACC has?

HD: Ouch! Man, you're harsh. But the truth hurts. The ACC needs a dominant team pushing for a final top 10 ranking, otherwise four- and five-loss teams are going to be the league's highlight of the bowl season. It doesn't matter if the entire conference is bowl eligible every year if they're not winning the big games against the best competition. Does Cincinnati legitimately fall into that category? I mean, exactly how good of a win would that really be for the Hokies?

I'll give you the last word.

BB: You're too kind. This is all in good fun of course. And I never even got around to my ACC title game jokes. (If they play a championship game and no one is there to see it, does it really exist?) Luckily, unlike a lot of things in college football, we'll get to settle at least part of this debate on the field. And then one of us will have the upper hand when we start arguing again next fall.

Bowl update: Close, but not quite

December, 2, 2008
12/02/08
7:50
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Nothing is finalized yet, but it looks like the Gator Bowl wants Clemson and the Chick-fil-A Bowl wants Georgia Tech. That announcement could come as early as tomorrow.

As for North Carolina playing in Charlotte, it depends on who wins the ACC championship game and what the Champs Sports Bowl does.

If Virginia Tech wins, the Champs Sports Bowl is likely to take FSU, Boston College would fall to Music City, and North Carolina would go to Charlotte. If Virginia Tech loses but puts on a good showing, Champs might take the Hokies over FSU, which would likely send North Carolina to the Music City Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl would have Maryland, Miami or Florida State to choose from.

ACC bowl projections

December, 1, 2008
12/01/08
1:44
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com'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
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.

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This is impressive. Clemson coach Tommy Bowden swallowed his pride and called Nick Saban for advice. And Mark Richt. And Frank Beamer. And his father. He said their feedback will help him help the team regroup after the loss to Alabama.

  • After that loss, Wake Forest was the only ACC team ranked in the AP poll. Personally, I think it's a little extreme to drop a previously top 10 team out of the rankings entirely after just one game.
  • Which is why The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins is expecting the Tigers' best.
  • Will Georgia Tech look as good against the Boston College defense? T.J. Barnes, a defensive tackle on the scout team, is doing his best to help them get ready. And the coaching staff is doing its best to try and limit Michael Johnson to under, say, 90 plays.
  • Of course, the opposite question also needs to be asked. How will the Eagles fare against Paul Johnson's triple-option offense? The last time these teams met, it took a last-second field goal for BC to win the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Now, a league game is at stake.
  • If not for the death of former Miami lineman Bryan Pata, Florida safety Major Wright would be lining up for the Hurricanes on Saturday.
  • Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice's record really is a thing of the past after UNC receiver Brandon Tate's record-setting performance last week.
  • Oh, and those guys who jumped out of the plane and landed on Duke's field? They hope to get another shot at Kenan Stadium some day. Hey, everybody makes mistakes. I jumped out of a plane once, and it's not like there's a steering wheel on those things.
  • Injured Duke running back Re'quan Boyette contributed in his own way this past weekend, but the Blue Devils also found a capable back in Boyette's good friend Clifford Harris.
  • Even with its suspensions for the first two games, FSU should start the season 2-0. But will they be mismatches compared to any of these?
  • The Seminoles' depth chart is complete with one exception -- quarterback.

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.

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