Friday, January 2, 2009

C-minus for ACC bowl effort

The ACC's a mediocre conference so why is everyone surprised it went 4-6 in bowl games?

Granted, the conference should have done better but that's the crap shoot of taking a month off.

And ultimately, 4-6 with a long-overdue win in a BCS bowl, is about all you should expect from the fourth-best BCS conference.

Virginia Tech's 20-7 Orange Bowl win ended an eight-game losing streak in major bowls for the conference and it's the first time the ACC beat a team not currently in the ACC in a major bowl since Florida State topped Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl after the 1997 season.

The problem with 4-6 is two of the wins were against teams outside the BCS, which means the ACC went 2-6 against its big conference brethren.

A backseat look at how the bowls broke for the ACC:

Games it won
Wake Forest over Navy
Maryland over Nevada
Florida State over Wisconsin
Virginia Tech over Cincinnati

VT's win was the most important image-wise for the league, which couldn't take another BCS hit, especially from a relatively-weak Big East team.

FSU clobbered a bad Big Ten team but the other two wins were window-dressing.

Games it should have won
N.C. State-Rutgers
UNC-West Virginia

All three ACC teams led at halftime, only UNC by less than two scores, and not one ended up winning the game.

N.C. State certainly has an excuse with Russell Wilson's injury but Wilson doesn't play defense. Still, Rutgers needed a fake field goal and a blocked punt to win by six points so it wasn't the epic comeback performance ESPN or the AP made it out to be by the Scarlet Knights.

Hakeem Nicks caught seven passes in the first half of UNC's 31-30 loss and one in the second. Look, I'm not as smart as Butch Davis but you think it would have been a good idea to get Nicks the ball more in the second half?

Davis said WVU changed its pass coverage in the second half but a double-team didn't stop Nicks from hauling in a 73-yard TD in the first quarter.

Bottom line, you win with your fastball and you make sure the other team beats your fastball, not check-down routes to Cooter Arnold. Not getting the ball to Nicks was bad coaching and the reason UNC lost, not an incredible performance by Pat White or Shaun Draughn's late fumble.

You are all convinced I hate UNC but there's a difference between "hate" and analysis. UNC should have won that game and the UNC fans who have communicated with me (since this column) and leaving comments on this blog are in denial about Davis and his mismanagement of the bowl game and the final third of the season.

Clemson led 14-3 at the half and 21-10 in the third quarter. Any questions?

Games that hurt
Vanderbilt over Boston College
LSU over Georgia Tech

Boston College won the Atlantic Division. Vanderbilt went 4-4 in the SEC and 6-6 overall with losses to Duke and Wake Forest.

On paper, that's a bowl the ACC should win. But, you factor in BC's injury at quarterback, the freefall from the Orange Bowl to the unfortunately-sponsored "Gaylord" Bowl and the fact that Vandy was playing in a bowl for the first time in 26 years and that's a pu-pu platter of doom for the ACC.

There's no way around LSU's butt-kicking of Georgia Tech. The Tigers lost three of four before the bowl game and, in general, had mailed in the season. GT was the ACC's highest-ranked team, playing in its backyard and with a funky offense that is tailor-made for a bowl win.

It turns out, GT emptied the chamber in beating Georgia and LSU just needed a month off to realize it had an NFL roster and had no business going 3-5 in the SEC.

Either way, 38-3 is 38-3 and to borrow a line from the GT fight song, that's a battle axe being dropped on your head. -- J.P. Giglio


Anonymous said...

Wake had the lead against BC before losing on a late drive. So why do you discount one of Vandy's losses against Wake? It's not like losing to the Deacons is a black mark, as it was in the past. They avenged their close loss to Navy and ended on a positive note, not just "window dressing."

Anonymous said...

The ACC is falling, and only has a few great moments throughout the year. Other divisions are becoming more balanced across all programs.

Anonymous said...

UNC shouldnt have won their game. Honestly, WVU should have beat them worse. I think WV was just playing down to their competition and finally turned it on at the end to win...

Justin Ritchie said...

The ACC is an afterthought in football. When ACC teams play quality conference programs, that fact gets proven over and over.

Anonymous said...

Its funny people bring up the ACC being an afterthought in Football, nobody ever claimed the ACC as the best football conference. The ACC is better than the Big 10 yet they are hyped to be the 3rd or 4th best BCS conference this year.

NC State's defense was on the for 12 minutes and 45 seconds of the third quarter they were tired. And they barely won. If Russell Wilson was allowed to play the 2nd half it more than likely would have been more of the same. ESPN has turned into a joke of a network they are a hype machine now and nothing more.

Michael said...

JP, it's tough to portray the conference as "mediocre" when there's at least one source (Jeff Sagarin's ratings) that has the ACC as the best top-to-bottom conference. Even according to the RPI, the conference's worst team (Duke) had a rating of #70. The SEC (Miss. St-#92, Auburn-#72), Big East (Syracuse-#76, Louisville-#75), Big Ten (Indiana-#95, Michigan-#82), AND Big XII (Iowa St.-#117, Kansas St.-#86, TAMU-#80) all had teams with worse ratings, in some cases significantly.

Now, these matchups according to both Sagarin and the RPI.

Wake(#32 Sagarin/#37 RPI) vs. Navy (39/40): Should have been a competitive game, and it was. Now, I will say that Wake had an advantage in that when two competitive teams play more than once in a season, it's tough for one or the other to sweep. Still, good win in an even matchup.

Maryland (65/39) vs. Nevada (59/53): Regardless of whether this was a BCS/non-BCS matchup, Nevada was no pushover (again, they were the favorite according to Sagarin), and they CERTAINLY had a natural regional advantage in a game played in Idaho. Not as competitive as the Eagle Bank Bowl, but still, Maryland took care of business.

FSU (21/15) vs. Wisconsin (42/43): this should have been a relatively easy win according to the ratings, but perhaps the beatdown FSU put on the Badgers was a bit more than should have been expected.

VT (23/20) vs. Cincinnati (14/18): This wasn't a particularly close game, even though Cincy was favored by both rating systems. You're certainly not giving the ACC the credit it deserves here.

NCSU (61/44) vs. Rutgers (36/35): So State should be ashamed that Rutgers team that the computers again favored was lucky to beat them WITHOUT their All-ACC starting QB? Hah.

UNC (24/23) vs. WVU (32/32): UNC had no excuse to lose this semi-home game, but they showed a penchant for losing games they shouldn't (NCSU blowout at home, UVa.) Still, not a TERRIBLE loss...WVU was a decent team and was a national championship favorite at the beginning of the year.

Clemson (25/30) vs. Nebraska (29/24): Clemson was riding an emotional high as they salvaged their season during the Bowden/Swinney transition. Once Dabo got the job, they had played for everything they could play for. Nebraska, too, was no pushover, and Clemson was a dropped pass away from winning the game in the final two minutes.

BC (28/21) vs. Vanderbilt (54/57): You pretty much nailed this one.

GT (27/16) vs. LSU (51/45): This one too.

Michael said...

To complete my thoughts: is there a national-championship caliber team in the ACC? No. But with the emergence of the Duke program under David Cutcliffe and the continued growth of other lower-tier ACC teams, there is no automatic win in the ACC anymore, inside of conference play or out. Now, maybe you'd call that "mediocrity," but I'll call it competition, and I'll take that over a Iowa-Indiana (45-9) or Oklahoma State-Iowa State (59-17) game ANY day.

Alex said...

Not biased against Maybe you should have analyzed the NC State and Clemson losses a bit more...looks to me that two thirds of your "analysis" is dedicated to ripping Davis. You are correct that UNC should have won the game, but from what I saw UNC lost the closest game to best of the three opponents.

Rabbit said...

I was wondering why a columnist was complaining about readers. Then, I saw who the author is. Mr. Giglo, you're a joke and you should feel lucky you have a job.

You're claiming that UNC should have thrown more to Nicks in the 2nd half. You say that would've been better than check down passes to other receivers. Quarterbacks check down to other receivers because the #1 option is covered. Are you literally suggesting they throw the ball to a player who is double covered over an open player?

To anybody who thinks that the ACC is a good football conference because of its "depth" you need to understand depth. Having several teams that have a shot at the conference championship is not depth, its parity.

The SEC, Big 10, and Big 12 all have at least 2 dominating teams. That means 2 losses that are virtually guaranteed for the middle of the pack of those conferences. This bowl season proved that the middle of the pack in the ACC is not as good as advertised.

But, I wouldn't worry too much about it, bowls are just scrimmages anyways.