If you're a College Football sports news reader (and I'm just going to assume that you probably are if you're web browser has landed on this page), you've almost certainly read about the criticism that the ACC ranks towards the bottom of six conferences who have an automatic bid for a BCS bowl. The yardstick for making this determination comes from the results of inter-conference play. The 2008 season is about to embark on the stretch between December 20 and January 6 when inter-conference play happens nearly every day of the week. This is the time that avid College Football fans watch multiple games and pick who they want to win largely based on which teams play in their favorite team's conference...unless it's UVA...who's bowl ineligible this season. And this season more so than others should bring about some anxiety for the quintessential ACC fan. In this post, I'm going to touch on bowls in which the ACC competes this year, and hopefully, lay out a path towards the ACC gaining some respect that it lost since all the hype generated from the expansion that brought Virginia Tech into the conference. I may, just maybe...okay DEFINITELY, take some jabs at the BCS for the selections it made this year.
BCS (Fraudulent) Title Game: Jan 8, 8pm, FOX
Okay, this doesn't pit any ACC teams, but I can't resist. Texas not playing in this game is just a plain crime. Texas suffered its single loss at an away game in the final seconds. Oklahoma dropped its single loss at a neutral site. By any fair measure, Texas should have played in the Big 12 title game, which would have almost certainly landed them in the BCS Title Game. Because of this, we'll have no true national champion once again. Thanks a lot, BCS!
Orange Bowl: Jan 1, 8:30 p.m., FOX
Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati
First, I can't say I'm jumping for joy that Virginia Tech is playing against Cincinnati. Don't get me wrong, the Bearcats have definitely earned and deserve their bid; I just don't think the ACC has much to gain in a victory over the Big East. The Big East has been in fierce competition with the ACC for the title of worst of the automatic BCS bid conferences. I think the Orange Bowl committee (and I know this would require bending those stingy BCS rules) should have chosen Texas Tech. First, I think Texas Tech as a one loss team in the Big 12 South has earned a BCS bowl bid. Second, I actually think the Hokies would have a reasonable shot at a victory. All things considered, the Red Raiders have a better team than the Hokies, but in a contest between the two, I think the Hokies actually match up pretty well. Virginia Tech defensive coordinator (at least for now) Bud Foster's squad would give the Red Raider offensive line the biggest challenge they've had since facing the Sooners. Macho Harris just may be able to do his part to contain wide receiver Michael Crabtree. At any rate, it's not to be. Nonetheless, a victory against Cincinnati in a BCS bowl would well serve the ACC.
Gator Bowl: Jan 1, 1 p.m., CBS
Clemson vs. Nebraska
A Clemson victory over Nebraska would make for a second ACC victory over this reputable Big 12 team. Go Tigers!
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Dec 31, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Georgia Tech vs. LSU
LSU hails from the mighty Southeastern Conference. A Ramblin' Wreck win over the Tigers would definitely prop up some respect for the ACC. This is an uphill battle, but Georgia Tech has pulled some upsets before. Go Yellow Jackets!
Music City: Dec 31, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt, like LSU, also hails from the SEC, but they aren't quite so mighty. Boston College should give them a good licking if they are at the top of their game. Go Eagles!
Humanitarian Bowl: Dec 30, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Maryland vs. Nevada
What a sissy name for a bowl! Do the players run to the fifty yard line, hold hands, and sing kumbaya? Okay, as much as Maryland may be tempted to throw this one to avoid having their names etched in history as victors of the Kumbaya Bowl, they've played strongly this year against some tough competition, and I expect Freidgen's gang to play to the top of their game. Go Terrapins!
Papajohns.com Bowl: Dec 29, 3 p.m., ESPN
Rutgers vs. NC State
As much as I roll my eyes at the thought of relying on a school from the state of North Carolina to prop up the ACC (If you're a native Virginian, you know exactly what I mean.), wins over the Big East will at least guarantee the ACC a second-to-last ranking of the automatic bid BCS conferences. Go Wolfpack!
Emerald Bowl: Dec 27, 8 p.m., ESPN
Miami vs. California
This one's an uphill battle for Miami, but I still like their odds. Miami has a lot of young and growing talent. I expect them to climb back to the top of the ACC in the next two to three years. A win here would definitely boost the morale of the Miami locker room next season. Go 'Cains!
Champs Sports Bowl: Dec 27, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Florida State vs. Wisconsin
I hope FSU gives the Badgers the spanking they deserve for backing out of the inter-conference play they had scheduled against the Hokies. FSU has improved over the last couple of season, and hopefully, they continue that trend in the bowl season. (This is going to really hurt, but here goes.) Go 'Noles. (But I'm NOT doing that stupid tomahawk chop.)
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Dec 27, 1 p.m., ESPN
North Carolina vs. West Virginia
Sorry folks. I have dear relatives in this state (no family tree jokes!), and with the hardships upon which the steel and coal industry have come make this an exception. The state could use something to uplift their spirits. So I'm saying Go Mountaineers. All other ACC fans, however, should say Go 'Heels.
Notre Dame vs. Hawaii
The ACC doesn't have a part in this, but after years of watching Notre Game get bowls they don't deserve, Go Warriors!
Eaglebank Bowl: Ded 20, 11 a.m., ESPN
Navy vs. Wake Forest
Go Demon Deacons!
After the 2008 bowl season concludes as a follow-up to this post, yours truly will compile a list of wins and losses for each conference in inter-conference play for the 208 season. From that and a couple other considerations, I'll present you with a ranking of the automatic bid conferences. One of the great things about College Football is how fast the landscape can change in just a few short seasons. This isn't the NFL where the Detroit Lions have thrown away all their draft picks since the Transformers cartoon show went off the air. (So maybe that's an exaggeration, but not too great of one.) The ACC has stunk in the last few seasons, but it has a lot of youth and a lot of potential. Let's see what it can deliver.
And now that I've been saying, "Go [insert ACC team here]," I have to close by reaffirming where my heart is when it comes to College Footall...
LET'S GO HOKIES!!!