What Life in the ACC Gets You, Bowl Speaking

I see this Hokie fan's face every time I open the editor to start a new post. I share my misery with you, the reader, because I go the extra mile. And I secretly hate you all.

I know, you've been so entranced by the impending UNC-Tennessee game, you haven't even begun to consider the postseason fate of the other seven bowl eligible teams from the ACC. In a season in which the conference was basically characterized as, "Well, at least they're not the Big East," this is now the opportunity to either put a shine on the conference perception or fall flat on their collective face. Which way are things going to go?

Georgia Tech vs. Air Force (December 27th, Advocare V100 Independence Bowl) I'll give the folks in Shreveport this – they invented the embarrassing bowl sponsor as the Poulan Weed-eater Bowl back in 1990, but they're not one to rest on their laurels. Hence the current title sponsor, which WIkipedia tells me "makes energy drinks and nutritional supplements sold through multilevel marketing." In other words, basically a butch Mary Kay. This has the potential for some embarrassment for the ACC right off the bat, pitting the 7th ACC pick against the 3rd team out of the hungrier WAC MWC. This year it's a game between two teams that run the triple option, which makes it even riskier for Tech, who will most likely be without QB Josh Nesbitt. The Yellow Jackets are 1-3 since losing Nesbitt; they may very well end up 1-4.

N.C. State vs. West Virginia (December 28th, Champs Sport Bowl) Try as they may, the ACC can't escape a second bowl game against the Big East. They escaped the Gator, only to have the Big Ten bail on this bowl and the Big East swoop in to take their place. The Champs has also moved upscale since the last time the Heels played in it, when it was the Carquest, and the last of the conference's bowl tie-ins. Now they have the pick after the Peach, and chose N.C. State to face the Big East runner-up, a Mountaineer team that is arguably better than the squad representing the conference in the BCS. But State is pretty good themselves, and the Big East is very, very bad. The Wolfpack should be able to win here.

Maryland vs. East Carolina (December 29th, Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman) The Terps, tied for third for the best overall record at 8-4, falls to the bowl with the eighth ACC selection. This is what happens when your fanbase won't even fill their home stadium, and you have less name recognition than Miami. ECU already has one ACC scalp in three tries this season, but have collapsed down the stretch losing 4 of their last 5. Maryland should be able to win this one, but if there's ever a team that could fail to show up, it's the Terps.

North Carolina vs. Tennessee (December 30th, Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl) Oh, I'm sure I'll have something to write about this in the coming weeks. Funny fact though – underdogs have won six of the nine Music City bowls. And UNC isn't the underdog. They've also lost Bruce Carter and Alan Pelc for the bowl game, so there's that.

Clemson vs. South Florida (December 31st, Meineke Car Care Bowl)  Hey, Charlotte has finally moved on from the Tar Heels... to a team even closer to Charlotte. I know players claim to like any bowl trip, but Charlotte? Really? Anyway, South Florida is a thoroughly bad Big East team that still cost Randy Shannon his job when the knocked off Miami. Clemson should fare better.

Miami vs. Notre Dame (December 31st, Hyundai Sun Bowl) Speaking of the now Shannon-less Hurricanes, they get to relive their glory days in El Paso. And shockingly enough, the Catholics vs. Convicts reunion is a sellout despite the fact that Miami fans didn't want to see the team play at home. The Irish weren't particularly good this year, but did excel at beating aggressively mediocre teams like Pitt, USC, and, well, Miami. I'd bet on Notre Dame.

Florida State vs. South Carolina (December 31st, Chick-fil-A Bowl) It's the Battle of the Conference Championship Game Losers! I honestly have no idea how this is going to play out. The Seminoles were more respectable in their last game, but the Gamecocks had an opponent on an entirely different level. And Steve Spurrier does have experience beating FSU – just not with this team. It's a toss-up.

Virginia Tech vs. Stanford (January 3rd, Discover Orange Bowl) The Hokies did sweep the ACC, and got the well-deserved BCS sot for doing so. That being said, they didn't look as impressive as Stanford in doing so, and that's even ignoring their 0-2 start. There's a reason the Cardinal are ranked 4th, and VT 13th.

Boston College vs. Nevada (January 9th, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) And finally, the pentultimate game of the entire bowl season. A game that comes after the Rose, Sugar, and Orange. A game that pits the WAC champion against... a Pac-10 team. And the Pac-10 couldn't get enough teams eligible, so they get BC. This is another chance for disaster; I wonder what all the people who were complaining about the ACC's scheduling in September are going to say about this slate.

So what does that total up to? A bowl record that's half a game removed from .500, in one direction or the other. There's going to be a fair amount of grumbling about this come January, but what do you expect? It's an average conference; they'll have an average postseason.

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