ACC: West Virginia Mountaineers

Video: Shell transferring to West Virginia

July, 26, 2013
7/26/13
4:30
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"College Football Live" discusses former Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell's decision to transfer to West Virginia.
Has something seemed odd to you about the BCS bowls this year? Does it seem like ... oh wait, West Virginia just scored again.

Does it seem like ... wait, there goes De'Anthony Thomas. Don't think he'll get caught from behind.

Does it seem like ... wait, would somebody please tackle Justin Blackmon?

Does it seem like there have been a lot of points this bowl season?

It's not just you. There have been a lot of points. More points than ever before. And by huge quantities.

So far, BCS bowl teams have averaged a total of 77 points in the Rose, Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls. That, folks, is nearly 26 points more than last year (51.6). And it's nearly 11 points better than the previous high of 66.3 from 2001-02.

Perhaps pairing two SEC teams in the title game has created a black hole sucking all defensive stinginess into the LSU-Alabama rematch, which you might recall went 9-6 with no touchdowns in their first meeting. West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns -- 10! -- against Clemson. Alabama gave up 12 TDs all season.

Speaking of Clemson: ACC. Well, well, well.

After the Tigers ingloriously fell 70-33 to the Mountaineers, we got our second story from the BCS bowl season: The ACC's insistence on throwing up on itself in BCS bowl games.

The conference that was once expected to challenge the SEC is now 2-13 in BCS bowl games. That's hard to do. You'd think in 15 BCS bowls the conference could get lucky at least five or six times. But no, it insists on making ACC blogger Heather Dinich, a genuinely nice person, into some sort of Grim Reaper every bowl season.

Heck, the Big East has won seven BCS bowls -- second fewest among AQ conferences -- but it's 7-7.

Of course, this all ties together, and we're here to bring out a bow, but first a warning: If you don't want to read about how good the SEC is for the 56,314th time this year, then stop reading. I'd recommend an episode of "South Park" or perhaps a John le Carré thriller as an alternative for passing the time.

We can all agree the SEC plays great defense right? Alabama and LSU will play for the title Monday with the nation's top-two defenses. Do you think perhaps that it's not a coincidence that the conference that is 16-7 in BCS bowl games plays great defense?

The only other AQ conference with a winning record in BCS bowl games is the Pac-12, which is 11-7. The Pac-12 isn't known for defense, either, but USC was when it won the conference's last national title in 2004.

The only team to win a BCS national title without an elite defense was Auburn in 2010, but the Tigers' defense seemed to find itself late in the season. Since 1999, eight national champions had a top-10 defense. Other than Auburn, the lowest-rated defense to win a BCS national title was Ohio State in 2002. It ranked 23rd in the nation in total defense.

Three of the four BCS bowl games have been thrillers. Two went to overtime. We've seen big plays all over the field in the passing game and running game. Yet, if things go according to script in the title game, we'll see none of that. We might not see more than a couple of plays that go for more than 20 yards. We might not see any.

Some might call that boring. It might seem that both offenses are so paranoid of making a mistake that they are stuck in mud, both in game plan and execution.

But, snoozefest or not, when the clock strikes zero a team from the SEC will hoist the crystal football for a sixth consecutive time.

That might say something about playing better defense.

Video: Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman

January, 3, 2012
1/03/12
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Andrea Adelson talks to Clemson punter Dawson Zimmerman before the Discover Orange Bowl.

Meineke Car Care Bowl preview

December, 27, 2008
12/27/08
9:44
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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.

Butch Davis breaks down the West Virginia offense

December, 26, 2008
12/26/08
3:00
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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.

What to watch in the ACC bowls

December, 24, 2008
12/24/08
9:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Here are a few things to watch in the pre-New Year's Day ACC bowls:

1. The ACC's win-loss record. With seven of the 10 games being played between Dec. 27-Dec. 31, this is the conference's chance to make a statement and show how far it has come since last year's two-win postseason. So far, so good, as Wake Forest got the ACC off to a 1-0 start.

2. North Carolina's defense against Pat White. The Tar Heels couldn't beat Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor, and White is even more dangerous. In addition to his 135.64 pass efficiency rating, White has also accounted for 83.5 rushing yards per game.

3. Wisconsin's time of possession. The Badgers best chance of winning this game is by running the ball repeatedly, wearing out FSU's defense and controlling the clock. It's what they've done all season, as Wisconsin is No. 22 in the nation in time of possession with 31:22. If the Seminoles can contain P.J. Hill, they should come out on top.

4. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris. He won when starter Robert Marve was suspended in the season opener and will have to do it again, as Marve is suspended for the Emerald Bowl. Harris has proven before he can win games, as he came off the bench and accounted for five touchdowns against Duke. But he has also looked cold and uncomfortable at times in the formula Randy Shannon has used him in. He has completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 1001 yards, six interceptions and 10 touchdowns.

5. Miami's run defense. The Hurricanes will need to play better than they did against NC State, when they allowed 219 yards on the ground. Cal running back Jahvid Best finished the regular season with 1,394 rushing yards and will be playing about six miles from his campus.

6. NC State quarterback Russell Wilson vs. Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel. Both have led their teams to impressive late-season rallies, and one will be the difference in this game. Wilson has a 134.28 passer rating and has thrown just one interception this season. Teel is 16th in the nation in passing efficiency at 148.53.

7. Georgia Tech's rushing offense vs. LSU's rushing defense. This is the key statistical matchup in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, as the Yellow Jackets rank third in the nation with 282.3 rushing yards per game, and LSU is No. 17 in the nation in rushing defense, with 105.7 yards per game and just 3.3 yards per carry.

8. Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis. He's trying to rebound from a subpar performance in the ACC championship game and has been working hard to improve his pocket presence. He'll face a tough Vanderbilt defense.

9. BC's non-offensive touchdown streak. The Eagles are tied for first in the country with eight non-offensive touchdowns, and have scored on either defense or special teams in seven straight games, the longest streak in the nation. Can they keep it going until the end?

10. UNC's record-setting receiver, Hakeem Nicks. Nicks needs one more touchdown to set the school record with 10. One more would also equal the career record of 19. He also needs five more receptions to break the UNC career record of 177, and is just 58 yards shy of moving into 12th place on the ACC's career receiving list.

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.

Clemson falls in the coaches' rankings

September, 7, 2008
9/07/08
2:51
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

This is goofy -- not the fact that Clemson is ranked No. 23 in the USA Today poll that just came out, but that the Tigers ever fell out of the AP poll. Now they won and they dropped a spot in the coaches' poll.

Look at what just happened to West Virginia -- three points ... three ... by this Pat White-led team against a surging East Carolina program, and the Mountaineers are still on the list, as they should be.

I've been saying all week that it was too dramatic to bump Clemson out entirely after a poor showing in the season opener against Alabama. I dropped them from No. 10 in my preseason power ranking to No. 21 last week.

The Tigers are still a good football team with a shot at winning the ACC title, but even if they do, most people will scoff at the program's first title since 1991 and say they did it against a sorry excuse for the ACC.

There's no argument here that the ACC might be the worst BCS conference out there right now, but did we really need The Citadel to remind us there is talent on Clemson's roster?

Tommy Bowden just said on his teleconference that the No. 9 ranking they had wasn't all too important.

"We need to win a lot more games before we get real interested in that," he said. "Hopefully our players aren't paying that much attention to it right now. We did that earlier and it didn't work."

Clemson slips into top 10 in USA Today Coaches' Poll

August, 1, 2008
8/01/08
2:35
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

The votes are in, as the USA TODAY Coaches' poll came out Friday. Here are the ones you're looking for:

No. 9 Clemson -- No doubt Clemson should start off as a Top 10 team, and the Tigers have more answers right now than Texas and Auburn, but I'd be surprised if those two programs don't eventually push past Clemson in the rankings. And yes, West Virginia should be good - Pat White will get Heisman consideration -- but to have the Mountaineers ranked above Clemson right now seems high, especially without Steve Slaton and Owen Schmitt.

No. 15 Virginia Tech -- Wow. That's saying something for Frank Beamer and his staff. Considering how many questions the Hokies have heading into Monday's practice (we don't really need to rehash it again, do we?), that's a little high. Jim Grobe and the Demon Deacons should be ranked higher at this point, but neither team should be above 20 right now.

No. 23 Wake Forest -- This seems just about right. The program is still asserting itself on the national level, but this ranking is further proof Wake Forest is getting taken more seriously and that maybe 2006 wasn't a fluke, but the start of a trend. Wake was just one of two ACC teams to win its bowl game last year. They've got 16 starters back, including two of the league's best playmakers on defense in Alphonso Smith and Aaron Curry.

Tommy Bowden: Like father, like son (kind of)

July, 25, 2008
7/25/08
9:34
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Gene Lower/Getty Images
 Bobby Bowden (left) prepared his sons for the ups and downs a head coach goes through.

About three or four years ago, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden took a personality test, and it revealed that in many ways, he's like his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. The way they are socially, their staff management and lifestyles are similar.

In some ways, their career paths have also paralleled.

Bobby Bowden pointed to a stretch in FSU history from 1987-1992 when many outside the program were asking the same questions his son is facing now, as Tommy Bowden's team could win its first ACC title since 1991.

"We went seven years coming out second, third, second, fourth ... nothing worse than fourth," Bobby Bowden said. "So what are they saying? You can't win the big one. And so then we finally win it, right? But that's exactly like Tommy. Sometimes you have to go through that. You coach, you can't quite do it, you don't quite do it, everybody says you can't do it, then all of a sudden you get over the hump. It would be great if he could get over the hump, but it might not happen."

Bobby Bowden got a little help getting there from guys like Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.

"It's amazing how lucky you get when you have a great quarterback," Bobby Bowden said.

They were both Heisman Trophy winners. Cullen Harper isn't even on most people's lists.

That doesn't mean the Tigers aren't a top 10 team.

The two coaches talk two or three times a week during the season. Not about X's and O's, but about things like practice, discipline, the media, how much hitting they're doing. So far, they haven't talked about the expectations Tommy is facing this season.  

"I don't have to because he's been around me all his life," Bobby Bowden said. "He knows what's out there. He knows the good times and the bad times a head coach goes through."

And when it comes to family, they take the bad times personally. Which is why it's been so difficult for Tommy Bowden to watch what has happened in Tallahassee the past few years -- particularly when brother/FSU offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden resigned after 13 seasons with his father.

"That's the hardest thing," Tommy Bowden said. "Anytime family is involved, with what my brother Jeff went through at Florida State -- I know how much it hurt my father. Blood's blood. That was probably the hardest thing. Public criticism in this profession -- he's taught me and Terry and Jeff how to handle that -- but I think when the public criticism is your own son ... it is personal."

How about when it's your own father?

Tommy Bowden was a redshirt sophomore receiver at West Virginia in 1974 when his dad was head coach of the Mountaineers. They were driving to church one morning when the younger Bowden noticed a replica of his father swinging from a tree.

"I looked at that thing said, 'Y'all didn't make it fat enough,'" Bowden recalled with a laugh. "'Throw some more stuffin' in there. He's got a little more belly than what ya'll think.'"

They're both good at deflecting criticism with humor.

While the Bowdens share many traits on and off the field, there's one glaring difference:

"I don't see myself coaching at 78, or even 68 for that matter," said the 54-year-old Bowden. "I really don't. I enjoy other things. I enjoy the beach, counting the waves, sitting there reading, walking with my wife, things like that. Going out on the boat with my dog and my wife. I think he saw Bear Bryant die six months after he played his last game. He was always like Bear Bryant. I've got other hobbies."

Getting over that hump just isn't one of them -- not yet, anyway.

Football and family: Duke receivers now brothers-in-law

July, 16, 2008
7/16/08
1:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Athletes often refer to their teammates as family members, but Duke senior receiver Ryan Wood means it. Literally.

Last month, he married a teammate's sister, making fellow wide receiver Matt Pridemore his brother-in-law.

On June 21 in Gainesville, Ga., wedding bells rang and guests devoured a chocolate grooms cake decorated with the Duke logo and jersey No. 82 on it. Erin Pridemore, Matt's older sister, is now Erin Wood.

All three of them went to Buford High School in Buford, Ga., so it came as no surprise to Matt, a sophomore, when his sister and Wood were engaged this past Christmas.

"He's cool with it," said Wood, Duke's holder and reserve receiver. "There's no precedent, so it's kind of new territory for both of us. We've known each other for so long. We played on the same high school team. Everybody kind of saw it coming. After six years of dating, it can only end one way. He had some time to prepare for it.

"It's funny, he used to play defensive back, so that made it really interesting," Wood said. "We'd even get kind of picked on then about being brothers-in-law and stuff like that before it was official."

Their story has another unique twist.

Erin's father, Tom, was a safety with the Atlanta Falcons from 1978-85. He also played for Bobby Bowden at West Virginia.

"We talk a lot of football," Ryan Wood said. "It's interesting to hear stories of back when he played. We get a lot of Falcon stories out of him. And he played for coach Bobby Bowden back when he was at West Virginia. It's always interesting to hear Bobby Bowden stories from him and how the game has changed."

Locker rooms, of course, haven't advanced as quickly.

"I feel like everyday it's, 'How's married life? How's the wife doing?'" Wood said with a laugh. "The guys have been great. They've known Erin and she's gotten to know some of the guys, especially the guys in my class. They've been very supportive. Of course, they take their shots when they can."

What are families for?

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