Monday, December 7, 2009

ACC bowl matchups look favorable

On paper, Boston College against Southern Cal looks like the only sure loss of the ACC's seven bowl games. The ACC should win no fewer than four of its other six matchups, if not all of them.

But 90 percent of bowl winners are determined by which team wants to be there. Clemson and UNC would qualify as the conspicuous ACC teams that are not ecstatic with their bowl fate.

Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Miami should beat inferior teams in their respective bowls. That leaves Florida State. Will the pressure of Bobby Bowden's final game be too much, for a team missing its quarterback? Or will the Noles make sure Bowden goes out a winner against a talented West Virginia team?

The instant reactions to the seven games:

Orange: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa

Iowa (10-2) defines winning ugly, going back to its season-opening win over Northern Iowa, which required not one but two blocked field goals in the final minute. The Hawkeyes win with defense and a running game. The speed that traditionally has hurt the option is not there. That should let GT get its running game going and make up for last year's bowl disaster. Pick: GT

Chick-fil-A: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee

The Vols, 7-5 under first-year coach Lane Kiffin, fought both Florida (23-13) and Alabama (12-10) but got worked by Ole Miss (42-17) and dropped a September home game to UCLA. Virginia Tech (9-3) has gone through the motions since losing to Georgia Tech on Oct. 17. Toss-up, but you can be sure Monte Kiffin's defense will be ready for VT super back Ryan Williams. Pick: Tennessee

Gator: FSU vs. West Virginia

You figure FSU wins this thing for Bobby but sometimes emotion can backfire on a team. WVU (9-3) quarterback Jarrett Brown and running back Noel Devine are really good and FSU's defense is not. Still, the FSU team that throttled BYU has to still be lurking somewhere. Pick: FSU

Champs: Miami vs. Wisconsin

The Badgers (9-3) got rocked by FSU last year in the same game. No reason to think Miami won't do the same thing. Pick: Miami

Music City: Clemson vs. Kentucky

The Wildcats (7-5) have won two straight in the Music City, including a win over the Tigers in '06. After losing to GT in the ACC title game, the Tigers fell at least two bowl spots and you figure won't be exactly interested in playing this game. Then again, it only takes C.J. Spiller to care. Pick: Clemson

Meineke: UNC vs. Pitt

A pair of teams that lost to N.C. State in a bowl? Imagine where these two would be without the Wolfpack collar? UNC lost in this game last year, to Pitt's backyard brawling partner. UNC's D usually thrives against running teams and that's Pitt (9-3) to a "T." Pick: UNC

Emerald: Boston College vs. Southern Cal

Southern Cal's loss to Arizona in the finale sent the Trojans (8-4) here instead of Stanford. The Eagles would rather this was an academic bowl, not an academic outcome. Pick: Southern Cal

-- J.P. Giglio