Monday, January 11, 2010
Best and worst of the 2009 ACC bowl season
By Heather Dinich
Here's a quick look at some of the top highlights -- and lowlights -- of the ACC's 2009 bowl season:
Best story: Nothing can top Bobby Bowden’s sendoff against his former team, West Virginia, in the Gator Bowl. There was even a “wide right,” only this time it was in Bowden’s favor. The Seminoles weren’t given much of a chance to stop West Virginia and its star running back, Noel Devine, but FSU’s defense finally clamped down and helped rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel end the careers of Bowden and longtime defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews with a 33-21 win.
Best quote: "We've got Heisman Trophies. We've got national championship trophies. We've got ACC trophies. I've got a box at home, must have 50 rings, must have 50 rings like that. I can't wear but one of them. … When I die, I can't take it with me. There are things in life more important. There are just things more important than that to me. That's why I'm at peace with myself." -- Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden after his final game.
Best coaching job: Frank Beamer. The Hokies had a great game plan, they showed improvement offensively, and played hard in all three phases against Tennessee. Virginia Tech’s win in the Chick-fil-A Bowl gave the program its first consecutive bowl wins, and the Hokies left no doubt who was the better team. Virginia Tech gave a complete, convincing effort against a neighboring SEC program and put the program in position to enter 2010 as a top 10 team.
Best stat: Virginia Tech’s defense hasn’t allowed any second-half points in its past five games, with the exception of Maryland’s fumble recovery in the end zone with 11:25 remaining on Nov. 14.
Best senior sendoff: Clemson running back C.J. Spiller went out a winner, breaking more records along the way. Spiller scored a touchdown and had 172 all-purpose yards, leading Clemson to a 21-13 win over Kentucky in the Music City Bowl. He scored a touchdown for the 14th straight game, setting a school record.
Worst penalty: On fourth-and-2 from the North Carolina 30-yard line, Pitt tried to draw UNC offsides and it worked. Cam Thomas jumped, handing Pitt a first down. The costly mistake helped lead the Panthers to their fourth and final field goal, and a 19-17 win. UNC led 17-16 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Worst excuse: It was cold. So Miami had to wear long sleeves and play in 50-degree weather against Wisconsin. That doesn’t quite explain the 430 yards of total offense the defense allowed the Badgers, or the fact that Jacory Harris was sacked five times.
Worst stat: In two bowl games under coach Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech has been outscored 62-17.
Worst injury/field conditions: Miami running back Graig Cooper, the Canes’ leading rusher, could miss all of next season with a severe right knee injury, thanks in large part to a misstep on the poor field conditions on the Florida Citrus Bowl turf at the Champs Sports Bowl. Cooper was deciding whether or not to leave Miami early for the NFL.
Worst turnover: Boston College had been able to hang with USC for four quarters, and it was a winnable game for the Eagles until quarterback Dave Shinskie threw a costly interception early in the fourth quarter. The Trojans scored two plays later in what would be the final touchdown of the game to win 24-13.