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Headlines: A Bowl Wrap Up

Brian: Jeff, the ACC gets a bit of a black eye going 2-6 in bowls this season. Question: can this be attributed to the fact that the bowls picked teams based on fan base and travel rep and not the product on the field? If Boston College goes to the Peach Bowl, Clemson to the Gator Bowl, and UVA to the Champs Bowl, does the ACC go 3-0 in those 3 games and not 1-2?

Jeff: Great point Brian and I am surprised that I did not think of this prior to you posing the question. I completely believe and the schedule and results of this season will confirm that BC was better than Clemson and Clemson was better than Virginia. Clemson lost in OT to Auburn and Virginia barely lost to Texas Tech. If you change the matchups, going 3-0 is very possible. Also, did you watch the Florida State v. Kentucky game? Florida State had trouble substituting players in and out and only lost by a TD. Without those players being suspended I think there is a very good chance they win that game.

Brian: The bowl records by conference are terribly misleading, the Bowl Challenge Cup some silly thing made up by ESPN. Check out the comparison of BCS conference vs. BCS conference, which sheds a little more light on this year's bowl results.
  • ACC - 1-0 vs. Big 10, 1-0 vs. Big East, 0-1 vs. Pac 10, 0-2 vs. SEC, 0-1 vs. Big 12
  • Big East - 0-1 vs. ACC, 0-1 vs. Pac 10, 1-0 vs. Big 12
  • Big Ten - 1-1 vs. Big 12, 0-1 vs. ACC, 1-2 vs. SEC, 0-1 vs. Pac-10
  • Big XII - 1-0 vs. Pac-10, 1-1 vs. Big Ten, 1-1 vs. SEC, 2-0 vs. ACC, 0-1 vs. Big East
  • Pac-10 - 1-0 vs. ACC, 1-0 vs. Big East, 0-1 vs. Big 12, 1-0 vs. Big Ten
  • SEC - 1-1 vs. Big 12, 2-0 vs. ACC, 2-1 vs. Big Ten

Some conclusions I draw from this.

  • SEC lived up to the hype, proving that they were the best conference in 2007, going 7-2 in bowls and 4-2 against BCS conference teams.
  • ACC won their games against the Big Ten and Big East co-champion UConn, but were beat down by the Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC.
  • Outside of West Virginia, the Big East had 0 wins against BCS conference teams and padded their bowl resume with wins over MAC Ball State in Toronto and C-USA Southern Miss
  • Oh, how far the Big Ten has fallen. Despite a big final W by Michigan for Coach Carr and Penn State's win over A&M, the Big Ten was embarrased in both BCS games, lost the Champs, Insight & Outback bowls, and needed a walk-off FG by Purdue to beat MAC Central Michigan.

Jeff: The ACC was beat down by the Big 12, Pac-10, and SEC? Brian, Brian, Brian. 6-6 Maryland lost to a now ranked Oregon State team out on the west coast. Virginia and Virginia Tech lost by a FG each. A combined 6 points to the two Big 12 teams. A Florida State team lost by only a TD to a once ranked #2 Kentucky team will all their personnel and in SEC territory. Meanwhile Clemson lost in OT to Auburn. None of these facts add up to a beat down.

Brian: Beat down = losing all 4 of those games, games the ACC should have won (and you know it!). Virginia Tech goes down big early and can't recover against Kansas. Virginia coughed up a 14 point lead in the Gator. And Clemson was up to business as usual under Bowden in the Peach Bowl. FSU loses to a once ranked #2 Kentucky?? So what! Let me remind you of two other once ranked #2 teams this season and how they fared in the bowls. #2 South Florida gets BEAT DOWN by a Dixon-less Oregon squad in the Sun Bowl, and #2 California struggled beating the Air Force Academy to finish the season above .500. Care to defend the Big 10's bowl performance?

Jeff: The Big Ten is bad. You could use the logic you used earlier on the ACC though. Illinois never should've been playing USC and therefore would've at least had a fighting chance against likely Tennessee in the Outback bowl. BC would've then played Penn State in the Champs Sports Bowl where I still predict a Boston College victory because newsflash- Texas A&M was not good this year and Penn State did struggle with them in San Antonio. Remember A&M getting beat down by Miami earlier this year? Little did we know at that time that that game featured a bad team and a worse one.

Brian: You can't use the same logic for the Big 10 as you can the ACC because the ACC's sole BCS representative won their conference championship game and should have played in the Orange Bowl all along. You can make the argument that the BCS got both Big Ten BCS participants wrong (Illinois should have been in the Outback, Ohio State in the Rose). If you shift all the Big 10 teams down, maybe they don't make as poor of a showing as they did.

Jeff: Now, last year the ACC went 4-4 in bowl games, this year 2-6. Believe it or not this year's 2-6 record made us look far better than last year's 4-4. There was not a single team favored by a touchdown this year. Last year, Clemson was a big favorite over Kentucky and lost. Florida State and Miami beat non BCS opponents. Boston College needed a late miracle to beat Navy. And Wake Forest got drilled in the Orange Bowl. The ACC played more BCS conference schools this year and was leading or had a chance to win every game. The ACC is far what we and many other expected it to be three years into the expansion era but this year did show improvement despite Miami not even qualifying for a bowl game.

Brian: I just can't agree that a 2-6 bowl season was more successful than last year's 4-4 campaign. We STILL lost the Orange Bowl this year (3rd year in a row and counting), gave away the Peach Bowl and the Gator Bowl, academically cheated our way out of a win in the Music City Bowl, and even lost to WAC runner-up Fresno State in Boise (although coaching changes probably affected this outcome). Fans and the media don't scrutinize WHO you play, just your conference's overall bowl record. I still agree though that expansion ACC hasn't produced the bowl results we would have liked 3 years in. Of the top 3 ACC bowl tie-ins, in the last 3 years we have gone 1-8 (!!), with our only win coming in 2006 in the Gator Bowl (VTech 35, Louisville 24).

As a conference, we need to perform better, although I don't know if relief is coming anytime soon. Maybe the ACC should work harder to push the right bowl teams for these matchups instead of the teams that will sell the most tickets and bring the most fans. Sure, our teams reputations with the bowls improve (e.g. Clemson's showing in Atlanta), but on the field results matter when it comes to the national perception of the success of ACC football. And at the moment we are dropping the ball on the field in these bowls.

Jeff: The ACC going 2-6 would not simply be fixed by getting the teams into the bowls they deserve to be in based strictly on standings. After Wake Forest got crushed in the Orange Bowl last year the national media ripped the ACC. This year, major media outlets are not talking about the ACC's poor performance. That is because it wasn't that bad. And the Big Ten did worse.