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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
What we learned in the ACC: Bowl edition

By Heather Dinich

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Not here in the ACC blog. We like the cold, hard truth. And this time, it hurts. Here’s a look at what we learned during bowl season:

Dabo Swinney
The ACC is 2-13 in BCS bowls, including an awful showing by Dabo Swinney and Clemson in the Orange Bowl this year.
1. The ACC hit rock bottom. As David Teel of the Daily Press put it, if a 2-6 bowl record punctuated by Clemson’s disaster in the Discover Orange Bowl isn’t rock bottom for the ACC, “the conference is in serious trouble.” This bowl season was an embarrassing finish for the ACC, as it was the league’s fifth straight losing postseason. It went 0-for-2 in BCS bowls and dropped to an abysmal 2-13 overall in BCS bowls.

2. It takes more than the BCS bowl bids to earn clout. For the first time in the history of the BCS, the ACC had two teams play in BCS bowls. And it didn’t matter. Not when it comes to national respect. Instead, it had the opposite effect. Clemson made the wrong kind of history in the Orange Bowl, allowing the most points by any team in any bowl ever, and Virginia Tech once again came up short on the big stage, losing 23-20 to Michigan in overtime in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The league’s continued failures at the BCS level are more ammunition for those who oppose automatic bids and will make bowl officials think twice about another at-large opportunity for the ACC.

3. NC State is on the rise again. For the second straight season, NC State finished with a bowl win and with higher expectations heading into the offseason. The Pack finished the 2010 season in similar fashion, with a bowl win against West Virginia (um, yeah, that team Clemson lost to?) and ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll. This season, they beat Louisville and finished on a hot streak heading into the offseason again. If NC State can stay healthy, it could be a surprise team in the ACC race.

4. Georgia Tech’s bowl losing streak continues. The Jackets lost their seventh straight bowl game, and the defense had a little something to do with it. Georgia Tech squandered a 14-point lead before losing in overtime to Utah, and got beat on a fourth-and-14 play that tied the game in regulation. Georgia Tech has yet to win a bowl game under coach Paul Johnson, and it has to be driving him mad.

5. The Everett Withers era ended with a thud. It was an easy win for Missouri, which ran all over North Carolina’s defense in lopsided 41-24 win. The Tigers scored 31 points in the first half, and it didn’t seem as if the Tar Heels even noticed. Larry Fedora was hired before Withers had a chance to leave, and UNC played as if the season was already over.