ACC Bowl Update
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The ACC sits at 2-2 in the bowl standings after Saturdays games. FSU won, but Miami and North Carolina lost close ones. The league, which started the season as arguably the worst conference, seeks to show the nation it can play football with any conference. I am an ACC fan, no secret. But the point of this article isn't to show biased towards the ACC. The point is to keep up with a national storyline. The conference was ridiculed harshly early on, but now attempts to leave 2008 with a winning record against all other conferences, including the Big-12 and SEC, and win the Bowl Challenge Cup.
West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
UNC (9-4) and West Virginia (9-4) played one of the more exciting bowl games in recent memory, with WVU qb Pat White stealing the show from more than 40,000 UNC fans in Charlotte. White brought the 'Neers from behind for the 31-30 victory, becoming the first NCAA qb to win 4 bowl games as a starter.
The game brought to an end a very successful second season for Butch Davis in Chapel Hill. After taking over in 2007, Davis now has the Heels playing fundamentally sound, solid ball, and the Heels should be an ACC contender in 2009. WVU loses White, but returns star running back Noel Devine. Look for WVU to also be a 2009 preseason top-20 team .
I still do not quite know what to think about Bill Stewart, however. Yes, he has won, but he has also had the luxury of outstanding players that he did not bring in. Pat White is one of college football's all-time greats - no wonder Stewart had success in coaching him this season. I think with White gone in 2009, WVU will be in trouble. I know above I said they will be preseason top-20. Well, they will be. Then they will live life post Pat White and they will lose many games. They do have Noel Devine, a super talent, returning, so yardage will be gained. I just feel that Pat White will be sorely, sorely missed, and I'm just not sold on Bill Stewart. I think he is an average coach at best, and his personality gets on my nerves. His post bowl interview on-field with ESPN's Rob Stone is among the worst I have seen.
And no, I dont like to knock on WVU. In fact, my grandfather was a huge fan and I've always liked them with a little WV blood in me. I just think a reality check is just around the corner. West Virginia is a solid east coast football team and will recruit well. I just dont know how long Stewart can keep the Mountaineers at a top-15 type level.
Florida State 42, Wisconsin 13
If you are an ACC fan, the news isn't good regarding FSU. The Seminoles are about to be the hot team in the conference again, at least when the preseason magazines come out next summer. After Saturday's largest bowl win in storied 'Nole history, FSU (9-4) will surely be ranked high going into next season. Wisconsin (7-6) isn't as strong as they have been in the past, but they are still a solid team with good leadership, and Florida State pulled out an old fashion can of whoop them.
The massacre was led by Christian Ponder who will be back in Tallahassee next fall. He went 19 of 32 for 207 yards and 2 scores, and was not intercepted. Antone Smith carried lthe load on the ground for FSU with 19 carries. But he manged only 40 yards. Freshmen Carlton Jones, however, averaged 11.4 per touch as he picked up 57 yards on just 5 carries. The highlight was the 31 yard score that will have FSU fans thinking ACC title in 2009. Another thought to help will be that nearly all of Ponder's top receiving targets also return including Cameron Wade (41 yards) and Luois Givens (33). Greg Carr had the chunk of receiving yards Saturday with 78 and a score. Junior tight end Caz Piurowski, also returning, caught Ponder's other td pass.
I think you can kind of see things coming together in Tallahassee for 2009 and beyond. For the most part, this 2008 team was quite young. Now, after a 9-4 growing season that saw FSU in and out of the top 25 all year, this squad is ready for bigger things. Bobby Bowden has coached way too long to be down long, and don't be surprised if he doesn't counter JoPa's big season with another of his own next year.
California 24, Miami 17
Miami is on the way up, but they certainly are not there yet. The Hurricanes tried their best to keep up with Cal, but in the end, poor clock managment led them to falling short. With just under 2 minutes to go, and down 7 with reasonable field position, the U (7-6) managed just 17 yards on 6 butt ugly plays and left something on the table at the 50-yard line as the game ran out of time.
This game was not for the 'Canes though, anyway. Cal (9-4) led 14-7 at halftime and 17-14 after 3 quarters. Mimai was constantly trying to keep up, and in the end, the better team probably won. Yes, Miami is getting better,a nd a top-10 recruiting class is on the way. But they still have some work to do, and Cal played well yesterday.
The star of the game was Javhid Best, who will almost certainly be a Heisman conetender when 2009 starts up. He took off for 186 yards and 2 scores on 20 carries, including an awesome 42 yard run in the opening quarter for a 14-0 Cal lead and all the momentum. He is an electrifying back. Remember that name.
It seems like Nate Longshore has been at Cal for a century. In his final game, he delivered his school a victory. He went 10 of 21 for 121 yards - nothing spectacular - but he did throw a TD and had zero interceptions, which is huge. He will leave Cal with no Pac-10 titles or Heisman trophies, but he did lead them to a 24-7 record under his leadership, a record that could have been much better barring 2 major injuries. He will be a future NFL quarterback.
The ACC is now 2-2 after wins by Wake Forest and FSU, and losses by Miami and UNC. That record is ok, but UNC staying focused in the final five minutes would have been nice. 3-1 would have been much better, but the Tar Heels threw away two fourth-quarter game-clinching plays that could have been the dagger. Still at 2-2, with 6 games to go, a solid record is very possible.
Up next is NC State vs. Rutgers Monday Night. This will be followed by LSU-Georgia Tech and Boston College-Vandy on Wednesday Night in two ACC-SEC head-to-head matchups. The other remaining games are Maryland-Nevada, Clemson-Nebraska, and VT-Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl.
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