Florida State Seminoles: Pittsburgh Panthers
1. Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC; LW: No. 1): The Seminoles started slow in the first quarter, but eventually cruised to a 45-7 win over Coastal Division champ Duke. Quarterback Jameis Winston won the game’s MVP award and was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. The next challenge for FSU will be stopping Auburn’s run game in the Vizio BCS National Championship.
2. Clemson (10-2, 7-1; LW: No. 2): The Tigers will play Ohio State in the Discover Orange Bowl, not a bad consolation prize for the No. 2 team in the ACC this year. Clemson could use a win to help its fans forget its last appearance in the Orange Bowl as well as a dreadful performance in a fifth straight loss to SEC rival South Carolina.
3. Duke (10-3, 6-2; LW: No. 3): The Blue Devils have nothing to be ashamed of after the loss to Florida State, as they held the Noles scoreless for a quarter and were simply overmatched like every other team on FSU’s schedule. Duke still earned a spot in the prestigious Chick-fil-A Bowl and will have a chance at another marquee win in a matchup against Texas A&M.
4. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3; LW: No. 4): The Hokies had a respectable season, but it was still far below their expectations and those of their fans. With losses to Boston College, Duke and Maryland, Virginia Tech’s hopes of returning to the ACC title game were out of its control. The program will get another shot to finish the season on an impressive note, as it will face a tough UCLA team in the Sun Bowl.
5. Miami (9-3, 5-3; LW: No. 5): The Hurricanes were a tough team to judge this year, but they remain a work in progress and drew one of the league’s most interesting bowl matchups, facing Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Quarterbacks Stephen Morris and Teddy Bridgewater will be the main storyline as the Canes aim for a 10-win season.
6. Georgia Tech (7-5, 5-3; LW: No. 6): The Yellow Jackets squandered a 20-point lead in a loss to rival Georgia, but will get another chance at the SEC when they face Ole Miss in the Music City Bowl. The Rebels’ offense has struggled in the past two games, while Georgia Tech is looking to build on its bowl success after last year’s win over USC snapped a seven-game bowl losing streak.
7. North Carolina (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 7): The Tar Heels are thrilled at their opportunity to return to a bowl game after serving a one-year postseason ban last year because of NCAA sanctions. They’ll face Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, a great chance for coach Larry Fedora to showcase the program to in-state recruits. This will be UNC’s fourth appearance in the Belk Bowl, but the program is looking for its first win there.
8. Syracuse (6-6, 4-4; LW: No. 8): The Orange beat Boston College 34-31 in the regular-season finale to become bowl eligible in the first year under coach Scott Shafer, but Syracuse has already struck out twice against the Big Ten and Minnesota is playing well. Generating offense isn’t going to get any easier against the Golden Gophers’ stingy defense.
9. Boston College (7-5, 4-4; LW: No. 9): Despite his injury in the Syracuse game, running back Andre Williams was named a finalist for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. Williams is the second player in school history to travel to New York for the Heisman Trophy announcement, joining former Eagles quarterback Doug Flutie. Williams and the Eagles will get an interesting matchup against Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
10. Maryland (7-5, 3-5; LW: No. 10): The Terps get a virtual home game against Marshall, as they will travel to nearby Annapolis for the Military Bowl -- their final game as members of the ACC before moving to the Big Ten. It’s going to be a good test for Maryland, as Marshall won the C-USA East title and seven of its last eight regular-season games.
11. Pitt (6-6, 3-5; LW: No. 11): Pitt lost four of its final six games and barely snuck past Syracuse to become bowl eligible with just one game remaining. The Panthers will face a successful 10-win Bowling Green team that just won its first MAC championship in 21 years and has the nation’s No. 5 scoring defense at 14.8 points per game. Bowling Green is in transition, however, as coach Dave Clawson is leaving to take the Wake Forest job. Speaking of the Deacs …
12. Wake Forest (4-8, 2-6; LW: No. 12): After five straight losing seasons, coach Jim Grobe has resigned. The Deacs ended the season with five straight losses, and ahead of only NC State in the Atlantic Division standings. On Monday afternoon, the university officially announced Clawson as its next head coach.
13. NC State (3-9, 0-8; LW: No. 13): First-year coach Dave Doeren knew it would be a bumpy ride, but not even he could foresee the amount of injuries to key players that would contribute to a winless record in the ACC. Doeren said there are plenty of positives to look forward to, and the team is ready to move forward with transfer Jacoby Brissett as its new starting quarterback.
14. Virginia (2-10, 0-8; LW: No. 14): Coach Mike London is hitting the recruiting trail hard, as he should after a winless season in ACC play. The quarterback position continues to be an issue, and the staff overhaul that was made last offseason didn’t translate in the win column.
1. VIZIO BCS National championship: No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 2 Auburn (8:30 p.m., Jan. 6, ESPN). This game is at the top of the list for obvious reasons. The ACC finally has a team back in the national championship game, and the opponent is from the SEC. Completely fitting, considering the ACC is measured up against the SEC on a yearly basis. Two big keys to watch -- will Jameis Winston carve up a so-so Auburn defense? And how will the Noles handle the Tigers' ground attack?
3. Russell Athletic Bowl, Miami vs. No. 18 Louisville (6:45 p.m., Dec. 28, ESPN). This ranks as one of the top matchups among all non-BCS games. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was nearly a Hurricane, but decommitted from the program after Randy Shannon was fired following the 2009 season. Bridgewater has since become one of the top quarterbacks in the nation and could be playing his last game for the Cardinals. Chances are he will have opportunities to make big plays on a mediocre Miami defense.
4. Hyundai Sun Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. No. 17 UCLA (2 p.m., Dec. 31, CBS). This is a huge opportunity for Virginia Tech to shut down one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country in Brett Hundley. This also is a big opportunity for Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas to end his career on a high note and perhaps get NFL scouts to take notice. But the Hokies are going to have to contend with UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who has 20 tackles for loss, 10 sacks and five forced fumbles this season.
5. Advocare V100, Arizona vs. Boston College (12:30 p.m., Dec. 31, ESPN). What's not to love about the matchup between Doak Walker finalists Ka'Deem Carey and Andre Williams? Williams, a Heisman finalist, leads the nation with 2,102 yards this season; Carey has 1,716 yards -- and at least 100 yards in every single game he has played in this year.
6. Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 24 Duke vs. No. 21 Texas A&M (8 p.m., Dec. 31, ESPN). We thought about moving this game a tad higher, but we kept it here because we believe Texas A&M is going to win by double-digits. That's not to take anything away from the way Duke has played this season. It's more a commentary on how good Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans are for the Aggies' offense. Texas A&M does not have a great defense so Duke has to capitalize on each opportunity it gets to put points on the board.
7. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Georgia Tech (3:15 p.m. Dec. 30, ESPN). This is a chance for the Jackets to try and redeem themselves after losing the regular-season finale to SEC rival Georgia. Ole Miss lost its last two games of the season and couldn’t muster more than 10 points in each game. Georgia Tech doesn’t exactly have a hard time scoring, but it has only won one bowl game in the past eight. Expect the Rebels’ defense to be prepared.
8. Belk Bowl: North Carolina vs. Cincinnati (3:20 p.m. Dec. 28, ESPN). The Tar Heels have lost three straight Belk Bowl games to (former) Big East members Boston College, West Virginia and Pitt. Cincinnati has a strong defense, and won last year’s Belk Bowl against Duke, but the Tar Heels are excited to be playing in Charlotte and back in a bowl after serving a one-year postseason ban.
9. Texas Bowl: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (6 p.m. Dec. 27, ESPN). The Orange haven’t had much luck against the Big Ten this year, starting out 0-2 with losses to Penn State and Northwestern. The bigger problem for Cuse will be Minnesota’s defense, which is No. 27 in the country and holding opponents to 22.3 points per game. Syracuse is barely averaging that (22.8) on its own.
10. Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman: Maryland vs. Marshall (2:30 p.m. Dec. 27, ESPN). The Terps get a home game in nearby Annapolis, but they’ll face a Marshall team that lost to Virginia Tech in three overtimes. Offensively, Marshall is averaging a Conference USA-best 43.0 points per game, the seventh-highest total nationally, and is averaging a league-high 502.3 yards per game of total offense.
11. Little Caesars Bowl: Pitt vs. Bowling Green (6 p.m. Dec. 26, ESPN). Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson is on his way to Wake Forest after leading the program to its first MAC championship in 21 years. The Panthers, who have struggled to protect quarterback Tom Savage all season, will face a defense that ranks No. 5 in the nation at 14.8 points per game. Pitt will counter with the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year, Aaron Donald.
- Andre Williams is blown away by being a Heisman finalist, Jack McCluskey writes on ESPNBoston.com.
- Tickets for the bowl games featuring Clemson and Duke are among the highest bowl prices out there.
- AthlonSports' Steven Lassan looks at five reasons why Florida State will win it all.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Ken Sugiura offers seven facts about Georgia Tech's appearance in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl against Ole Miss.
- Maryland defensive line coach and assistant head coach Greg Gattuso has left the Terrapins to become Albany's new head coach, Alex Prewitt writes in the Washington Post.
- Miami athletic directors Blake James and coach Al Golden are excited about the Russell Athletic Bowl against Louisville, and about all of the connections this game brings, Matt Porter writes in the Palm Beach Post.
- The Daily Tar Heel's Brooke Pryor previews the Belk Bowl between North Carolina and Cincinnati.
- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Sam Werner has reaction from Charlotte, N.C., where Aaron Donald was named the Bronko Nagurski Award winner on Monday night.
- The week-long process of finding Syracuse a bowl game was an "exhilarating" process for AD Daryl Gross, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- Virginia Tech linebacker Tariq Edwards will play in the College All Star Bowl, per the Washington Post's Mark Giannotto.
DE Harold Landry (Fayetteville, N.C./Pine Forest)
6-foot-3, 230 pounds
Boston College is close to done for 2014, and coach Steve Addazio is looking toward taking the next big recruiting jump with the 2015 class. However, the Eagles' 2014 class would be dealt a devastating blow if he cannot hold on to Landry, No. 30 among defensive ends nationally and the second-highest-rated commit in BC's class. Reports in mid-October had Landry decommitting from the Eagles, but it was only for a short while. He made amends with the staff quickly and rejoined BC. But now coaches are coming through schools and homes, so BC will have its work cut out once again.
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- Boston College is excited for its shot at Arizona in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Jack McCluskey writes on ESPNBoston.com.
- Clemson and Ohio State are looking for redemption in the Orange Bowl, Aaron Brenner writes in the (Charleston) Post & Courier.
- Texas A&M's defense might be a welcome sight for Duke after facing Florida State, Laura Keeley writes in the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
- The Los Angeles Times' Chris Dufresne says a Florida State-Auburn title game shows that the system works.
- Hugh Freeze is emphasizing the "totality of the journey" as Ole Miss readies for Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl, Hugh Kellenberger writes in the (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger.
- Maryland's meeting with Marshall in the Military Bowl features an intriguing subplot between Randy Edsall and Doc Holliday, Alex Prewitt writes in the Washington Post.
- Miami's meeting with Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl features plenty of connections between the schools, and means they will face each other in consecutive seasons, Christy Cabrera Chirinos writes in the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
- Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson gets his wish in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl as he will face Pitt, Jerry DiPaola writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Syracuse's season continues against Minnesota in the Texas Bowl after a week of waiting, Nate Mink writes in the (Syracuse) Post-Standard.
- Virginia Tech returns to the spot where its bowl history began, Mark Giannotto writes in the Washington Post.
- North Carolina's play down the stretch, plus its proximity to Charlotte, N.C., made it an ideal pick for the Belk Bowl against Cincinnati, Joe Giglio writes in the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
The good: What's not to love about this past weekend if you're from the ACC? The conference set an NCAA record by placing 11 teams in bowl games. That's topped, of course, by No. 1 Florida State, which is bound for the VIZIO BCS National Championship, where it will face No. 2 Auburn. The ACC broke its NCAA record of 10 teams in bowls, which was set in 2008. (The league also placed seven of its nine teams in bowls in 2002, which was then the NCAA's highest bowl participation percentage ever, at .778.)
The records: Jameis Winston broke FBS records for both passing yards and passing touchdowns by a freshman, as the Heisman Trophy front-runner was 19-of-32 for 330 yards with three touchdowns (and two interceptions) to finish with 3,820 passing yards and 38 passing touchdowns in the regular season. Duke receiver Jamison Crowder set a program single-season record in receiving yards Saturday and finished with 1,197. Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo's 45-yard second-quarter field goal helped him set an ACC record with 142 points.
The added bonus: The ACC title game had just kicked off when our Joe Schad reported that Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher had agreed to a five-year, $21 million contract extension with the program. Athletic director Stan Wilcox confirmed after the game that a deal had been reached, with details still being finalized. Just another bit of great news for the Seminoles on a night with no shortage of it.
Bowl subplots to watch: Boston College's Andre Williams (329) and Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey (322) lead the nation in carries and will square off in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl. … Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson will get a shot at his in-state program, Pitt, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. … Miami can see its hometown product, Teddy Bridgewater, up close and personal in what could be the Louisville quarterback's final game, the Russell Athletic Bowl. (The teams face each other next year, too, when the Cardinals join the ACC.) … Let's not overlook the obvious historical note when Ohio State and Clemson meet in the Discover Orange Bowl, either, as the programs will meet for the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl, which ended up being Woody Hayes' final game after the coach punched Tigers linebacker Charlie Bauman.
Wake Forest is still in the process of identifying and hiring a new coach as its 2014 recruiting class remains in flux. The Seminoles are heading to the national championship game and could be in for a big recruiting finish.
Meanwhile, a couple of very important visits and new offers to younger recruits went out in the ACC over the past week.
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Noles assistant coach Tim Brewster, considered one of the nation’s best recruiters, immediately took to Twitter following the win and let recruits know the coaches are hitting the road upon returning to Tallahassee. With the coaches focusing on the ACC title game, the FSU staff missed a week to be in the home and schools of recruits. Now, they have a week to work on closing out the 2014 class and gaining momentum in 2015 before the dead period, which begins next week.
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Given the lopsided score in the ACC title game, we still think Miami is going to Atlanta. But we could be very wrong. Miami versus Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Fla., would be an intriguing matchup with great storylines, too. Tough decision to make here for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Vizio BCS National Championship, Jan. 6: Florida State
Discover Orange Bowl, Jan. 3: Clemson
Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31: Miami
Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 28: Duke
Hyundai Sun Bowl, Dec. 31: Virginia Tech
Belk Bowl, Dec. 28: North Carolina
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Dec. 30: Georgia Tech
AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Dec. 31: Boston College
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Dec. 27: Maryland
* - Pitt, Syracuse at-large.
- Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde has plenty of fan reaction to Thursday's Jameis Winston news. Dan Wetzel says that Willie Meggs' clumsy attempt at humor undermined the gravity of the situation.
- USA Today's Dan Wolken says that Winston and the Florida State community quickly got back to football following Thursday's announcement.
- Here is a rundown of Andre Williams' ESPN car-wash Thursday.
- Clemson's juniors can soon check out their draft stock, Aaron Brenner writes in the (Charleston) Post & Courier.
- Justin Breen has a great profile of Duke guard Laken Tomlinson, who moved from Jamaica to Chicago when he was 10.
- The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph's Bill Shanks says that Paul Johnson's Georgia Tech program has stagnated.
- Maryland has put together a rather hilarious video about its future bowl experience.
- Miami quarterback Stephen Morris has accepted an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game, Christy Cabrera Chirinos writes in the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel.
- NC State running back Shadrach Thornton is suspended from the team indefinitely after being named a suspect in a sexual battery case, Joe Giglio and Andrew Kenney write in the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
- Here is a funny Q&A that Paul Chryst took part in with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The (Syracuse) Post-Standard's Nate Mink looks at some of the Orange's potential bowl destinations.
- The (Newport News) Daily Press' David Teel wonders if Virginia Tech's defense was slighted in the all-ACC voting.
- The (Raleigh) News & Observer issued an editorial Thursday on how much Wake Forest will miss Jim Grobe.
It’s championship week in college football, and the ACC could have what is considered to be the most lopsided contest of the weekend. No. 1 Florida State and No. 20 Duke meet in Charlotte for the ACC title.
In a few more seasons, this game might not have a 29-point spread in favor of the Seminoles. Coach David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils on the rise after leading them to their first double-digit win season in school history. Duke’s ACC Championship Game appearance coupled with Cutcliffe’s desire to finish his career in Durham has the Blue Devils poised to make a future splash in recruiting.
Before we take a look at the latest from the ACC, here's the most recent class rankings and BCS conference class rankings.
Trending up: A successful season usually impacts the next cycle of recruiting more than the current one as a large number of BCS schools have at least half of their spots filled by December. So Duke’s best season in school history should pay dividends in 2015 more so than 2014. After talking with several 2015 recruits from the state of North Carolina, many are looking at Duke more seriously. Three-star Corey Bell (Cornelius, N.C./Hough), who has offers from Duke, NC State and UNC, already has Duke as his No. 1 school. He won’t be the last North Carolina prospect to place Duke at the top in the coming months. Cutcliffe has a lifetime contract at Duke essentially, and his job security is on the level of Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. He’s not going anywhere. If the Blue Devils do not crack the top 40 in the class rankings in 2014, there is a very good chance it will happen in 2015.
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Will Rocky Top be home sweet home?
Four-star receiver Josh Malone, the nation’s No. 48 player out of Gallatin (Tenn.) Station Camp, has already signed financial aid agreements with Tennessee, Georgia, Clemson and Florida State, but he will announce his decision at noon ET Wednesday on NBC Sports Network. The RecruitingNation Hot Board has Malone projected to select Tennessee. The Volunteers were smart and were the first to use the signing of the financial aid paperwork as a tool in the recruiting process. Because he was technically “signed” UT coaches were able to have regular contact with him. Shortly after, the three other schools followed suit.
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Cutcliffe received 62 of the 65 votes in balloting done by the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association. Boston College first-year coach Steve Addazio received two votes, and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher received the other.
This is the second straight ACC Coach of the Year award for Cutcliffe and the first time the Blue Devils have had a back-to-back ACC Coach of the Year winner since Steve Spurrier in 1988 and 1989.
"(I’m) very appreciative of our staff and all of the support people that surround Duke football," Cutcliffe said in a statement. “It’s the best group of people, including the entire Duke football family -- best group of people I’ve been around."
In other conference awards, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was selected the overall ACC Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year, while Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller was selected ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Winston was the choice of 56 of the 65 ACSMA members casting ballots for the overall honor. Duke safety DeVon Edwards received four votes, and Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd got two. Maryland cornerback William Likely, Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley and Fuller each received one vote.
- Tremendous column from the Winston-Salem Journal’s Dan Collins on the legacy of Jim Grobe, who resigned as Wake Forest’s head coach Monday.
- A decision on the fate of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston could come as early as this week, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
- Florida State’s No. 1-ranked defense managed to put just one player on the All-ACC first team, writes Tomahawk Nation.
- Duke isn’t expecting many believers when it takes on the Seminoles in the ACC championship game, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.
- DeVon Edwards credits his work at cornerback for much of his success at safety this season, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- The Roanoke Times says what Virginia Tech’s record and the All-ACC balloting already showed: The Hokies are not among the ACC’s elite teams.
- Steve Addazio is pushing for tailback Andre Williams to get serious Heisman Trophy consideration, writes the Boston Herald.
- In spite of the loss to South Carolina, the Orange Bowl still looks like the likely destination for Clemson, writes The Post and Courier.
- Georgia Tech’s bowl options are narrowing, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, with the Belk Bowl and Music City Bowl the most likely options.
- And in Miami, the Hurricanes are simply playing the waiting game to see how the bowl scenarios shake out, writes the Miami Herald.
- Syracuse quarterback Drew Allen says he doesn’t regret transferring from Oklahoma, writes The Post-Standard.
- Virginia players are backing Mike London to keep his job as head coach, writes The Roanoke Times.
- For Dave Doeren and NC State, the rebuilding process is already underway, writes the Charlotte Observer.
- Tar Heel Blog looks at the good, bad and ugly from North Carolina’s loss to Duke in its regular-season finale.
- In its first year in the league, Pitt placed six players on the All-ACC team, highlighted by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, writes the Post-Gazette.
- Meanwhile, in Maryland’s final year in the league, the Terps were shut out of All-ACC balloting completely for the first time since 1997, writes The Washington Post.