Clemson announced Wednesday that it is canceling games against Oklahoma State and Ole Miss to accommodate the Tigers new nine-game ACC schedule now that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be coming to the ACC ahead of schedule in 2013.
Clemson was scheduled to play host to Ole Miss in 2015 and then travel there in 2016. They also had a home-and-home series scheduled against Oklahoma State in 2019 and 2020.
“We didn’t want to get out of that series,” Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips told OrangeandWhite.com. “It’s a good series.”
The Tigers will still play Georgia in 2013 and 2014, but the demand for seven home games made the other Oklahoma State series too difficult to keep.
Texas and Texas A&M have broken up, but the two are still thinking about each other, and not in a nice way. Take the case of the Longhorn Network, Texas cable TV outlet. It apparently couldn’t resist one last dig at the Aggies, who left the Big 12 for the SEC in part because of the network. In advertising a program about the Aggies, the network dropped this gem.
Texas A&M has always gotten the rap of not being the brightest school in the great state of Texas. Trying to shake that reputation this shirt by Aggieland Outfitters did it no justice. See the shirt was printed up to help celebrate its move to the SEC but someone on staff made the mistake and added North Carolina as a SEC state.
Unfortunately North Carolina is ACC territory.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has publicly reprimanded official Karl Hess for failing to follow procedure when ejecting Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta, two former North Carolina State stars from the stands during Saturday’s loss to Florida State.
The ACC said after the game that officials have the authority to ask the home team’s management to remove fans when, in the official’s judgment, their behavior is extreme or excessive. After Hess gestured to have Gugliotta and Corchiani removed, they were approached by an officer from the Raleigh Police Department.
ACC commissioner John Swofford said in the statement. “His reprimand is a result of a failure to follow that protocol. The reprimand doesn’t reveal a reason why Hess ejected Corchiani and Gugliotta.
Corchiani tweeted roughly 40 minutes after the game that Hess “didn’t like fact Googs and I told him he was having a bad day, inconsistent, and telling the truth.”
Gugliotta scored 1,536 points while playing for N.C. State from 1988-92, before beginning a 13-year NBA career that included an All-Star selection in 1997. Corchiani, who spent three seasons in the NBA, played for the Wolfpack from 1987-91 and is second on the NCAA Division I career assists list with 1,038 behind only Duke’s Bobby Hurley.
N.C. State sophomore cornerback David Amerson had two interceptions Tuesday night, one that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown and another with 41 seconds left that sealed the Wolfpack’s 31-24 victory over Louisville in the Belk Bowl, to give him an ACC record 13 for the season.
Former North Carolina star Dre’ Bly set the previous mark of 11 in 1996.
Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods’ niece, won the ACC women’s individual title by seven shots with a score of 5-under on Sunday. The Wake Forest junior, who was reportedly followed by 50 fans throughout the course and sunk her final put in front of almost 200, said that she “really felt confident all day.”
“My niece, Cheyenne, just won the ACC golf title by 7 shots! That’s awesome, I’m so proud of her,” Tiger Woods tweeted.
Cheyenne is the daughter of Tiger’s half-brother, Earl Woods Jr and if you had her winning a title before her uncle your the real winner.
Every Tuesday Sports Grind Entertainment presents you with the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player of the Week. This week the recipient of this prestigious honor goes to Virgina Commonwealth University Rams men’s basketball team who became just the third 11th seed to advance to the Final Four. Two weeks ago the 11th-seeded Rams so doubted they would get an NCAA tournament invite that they watched Cartoon Network instead of watching the selection show. Now the 11th-seeded Rams are heading to Houston after defeating five teams including number 1 seeded Kansas in the March Madness tournament. The other schools along the way that fell victim to VCU incredible run was the Pac-10′s Southern California, the Big East’s Georgetown, the Big 10′s Purdue, the ACC’s Florida State and now the Big 12′s Kansas. VCU joins 2006 George Mason as the only teams to make the Final Four from the Colonial Athletic Association.
Congratulations Virgina Commonwealth University Rams you are this weeks Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player.
With an undergraduate enrollment of fewer than 4,500 students, Wake Forest is one of the smallest schools to compete at the major college level and that leaves the Demon Decons with a sense of family o that isn’t found on most Division I campuses. That pride deepened when baseball coach Tom Walter donated one of his kidneys to Demon Deacon freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan. Both surgeries have said to go very well and both are expected to make full recoveries.
Jordan, from Columbus, Ga., first became ill in January of 2010, two months after committing to play at Wake Forest. Undergoing dialysis three times a week over the summer,doctors determined Jordan’s kidneys were functioning at 8% of capacity, and he needed a transplant as soon as possible. None of Jordan’s family members were suitable donors. Walter volunteered to be tested and was found to be a strong match.
“When we recruit our guys, we talk about family and making sacrifices for one another,” Walter said prior to the operation. “It is something we take very seriously. I had the support of my family, Wake Forest and my team. To me it was a no-brainer.”
Jordan suffers from Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Autoantibody (ANCA) vasculitis, a rare condition in which abnormal antibodies attack white blood cells and damage small blood vessels. In kidneys, it causes leaking of blood and protein into the urine and ultimately, kidney failure.
Walter, 42, came to Wake Forest in 2009 after University of New Orleans was forced to drop to Division III by the financial trauma created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Walter hopes to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday and travel with the team when it opens the season Feb. 18 at LSU.
This years Super Bowl is being played in Arlington, Texas between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers but who actually makes up these two teams? Being a college football fan, I decided to dig a little deeper and found out that the SEC leads all college football conferences with 18 players represented.
However it might surprise a lot of you that the Mid American Conference stands next in line with 15 players. That’s right the conference that showcases most of their bowl games before Christmas day highlight a majority of who makes up the NFL. In fact Central Michigan from the Mid American Conference are all tied for the most number of players represented in Super Bowl with four players. Representing the Chippewas will be Frank Zombo, Cullen Jenkins, Josh Gordy and Antonio Brown.
The rest of the conferences shape out as follows with the Big 10 (15), ACC (13), Big 12 (13), Pac -10 (10) and the Big East (5).
Greg Demery a University of North Carolina Tar Heels fan was removed from his seat behind the University of Virgina bench for wearing his Carolina colors in Charlottesville. Demery was removed right after the lineups where introduced after a security guard approached him and told him he couldn’t sit in that section of John Paul Jones Arena. The seats behind the bench belong to staffers and in this case one of the staffers gave the ticket away which found it’s way into the hands of a scalper where then Demery made the purchase.
Demery was still able to witness the game just 17 rows higher after associate athletic director Jason Bauman escorted him to the seat still in the lower bowl. This isn’t the first time North Carolina has been involved in an incident similar to this as last season Tar Heels coach Roy Williams had security remove a Presbyterian fan sitting a few rows behind the Carolina bench after he heckled Deon Thompson as he was shooting a free throw.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features University of Nevada Wolf Pack taking on Boston College Eagles in the 9th annual Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, formerly the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Parkin San Francisco, California.
Nevada, 12-1, 7-1 WAC, Wolf Pack would be perfect on the season if they hadn’t stumbled in mid season to Hawaii. Head coach Chris Ault has only held one head coaching position in his 26 years but they have come at three different times at Nevada and just signed on for two more years after capturing a share of the Western Athletic Conference title.
Nevada offense is spearheaded by the WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year Colin Kaepernick, who for the third year in a row threw for at least 2,000 yards and ran for 1,000 yards, making him the first player in NCAA history to achieve the feat. The Wolf Pack offense operates out of the “Pistol Offense” which was designed by Ault, which has allowed Kaepernick to be the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for at least 9,000 yards and gain another 4,000 on the ground.
Running back Vai Taua is equal threat in this offense as he is rushing for 127 ypg and in the wide receiver area 9 players have recorded a touchdown this year.
Boston College, 7-5, 4-4 ACC, Eagles started off the season 2-0 then spun out of control losing the next five straight. Head coach Frank Spaziani collected his team and they turned things around by winning the five straight to become bowl eligible and get a contract extension for two more years.
The Eagles offense averages just 18 ppg and entering this game with a little confusion at quarterback as the last two games saw four different passes. Chances are it will be Chase Rettig under center since he has completed 53.4 percent of his throws for 1,100 yards and 6 touchdowns. The reason though the quarterback position is still up for grabs entering the bowl game is that they turn the ball over far to much and as a group have 17 interceptions on the season.
Fortunately the Eagles have more stability at the running back position where Montel Harris leads the team with his 113 ypg that has gone for 1,243 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Defensively the Eagles have an impact player in sophomore linebacker Luke Kuechly who led the nation in tackles per game with 14. He became a finalist for both the Butkus Award and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy.
This will be the first meeting between these programs.
PICK: University of Nevada Wolf Pack
Last night during the Orange Bowl ESPN cameras found the section that Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s parents where sitting in while he was on offense. The only problem is that his mother was napping away while they game was going on. The game hadn’t gotten to blowout proportions when she was caught napping.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the Stanford University Cardinal taking on Virginia Tech Hokies in the 77th annual Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Stanford, 11-1, 8-1 Pac-10, Cardinal established new school records for wins on the seasons and within conference as well as making their first trip to the Orange Bowl. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has a well balanced team but a stud under center in junior quarterback Andrew Luck. The Stanford offense he controls has been unstoppable tallying 40 points per game as he completes 70.2 percent of his throws for 3,051 yards and 28 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Luck also tucked the ball at times and rushed for 438 yards with 3 touchdowns. Luck’s favorite target is Doug Baldwin, who caught 56 passes for 824 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Luck is not the only one to benefit in Harbaugh’s pro style offense as tailback Stepfan Taylor has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this year, averaging almost 5 ypc, while scoring 15 touchdowns. In college football it’s hard press to find a better offensive line week-in-week-out than Stanford’s which is headlined by First-Team All-American center Chase Beeler.
Virginia Tech, 11-2, 8-0 ACC, Hokies are making their fourth trip to the Orange Bowl, but it didn’t look remotely possible early on in the season when the team dropped its first two games of the 2010 season, falling to Boise State and then to Division II opponent James Madison. Head coach Frank Beamer rallied the team as Tech went on to win 11 straight games, closing out with a win over Florida State in the ACC Championship Game.
The Hokies are balanced offensively like Stanford and have a quarterback who deserves shine just like Luck in Tyrod Taylor, who completed 60.6 percent of his throws for 2,521 yards with 23 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He too is a dual threat to run the ball as he has rushed for 637 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The Hokies backfield is stocked with talented runners that contributed this year, led by Darren Evans 817 yards and 11 touchdowns followed by David Wilson 616 yards 5 touchdowns. Ryan Williams added 473 yards on the season but also crossed the end zone 9 times.
Wideouts to keep on eye in the Hokies offense is Jarrett Boykin, 763 yards 6 touchdowns and Danny Coale, 640 yards 3 touchdowns.
This marks the first ever meeting between these two schools.
PICK: Stanford University Cardinal
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of South Carolina Gamecocks taking on Florida State University Seminoles in the 43rd annual Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
South Carolina, 9-4, 5-3 SEC, head coach Steve Spurrier is enjoying his best season for the Gamecocks. They began the season with three straight victories but followed that by a loss to Auburn. The rest of the way saw the Gamecocks play on an inconsistent level until they took the last three games of the year. That found them in a rematch against Auburn in the SEC title game which they where roasted 56-17.
Offensively the Gamecocks are producing 32 ppg behind freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, who has rushed for 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lattimore, who earned Freshman of the Year honors in the SEC, and also landed on the All-SEC First Team.
Finally the Gamecocks got the most productive year out of quarterback Stephen Garcia who helped keep defenses honest and not lock into the Lattimore. Garcia completed 65.1 percent of his passes and finished with 2,816 yards and 20 touchdowns along with 11 interceptions. Garcia’s favorite target down field was sophomore Alshon Jeffery as he caught 79 passes for 1,387 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Florida State, 9-4, 6-2 ACC, is under the direction of first year head coach Jimbo Fisher who guided his team to an ACC championship game, however they lost to Virginia Tech 44-33. The Seminoles ival Florida. Unfortunately, the Seminoles were unable to remain in the win column as they fell to Virginia Tech, 44-33 in the ACC title matchup.
The Seminoles have a very balanced attack led by senior quarterback Christian Ponder, who threw for 2,038 yards and 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in only 11 games. Ponder doesn’t really signal out a single receiver but does look for Bert Reed to come through at critical times. Reed led the team with 56 catches and 589 yards while Taiwan Easterling followed in second with 41 catches and Willie Haulstead scored 6 touchdowns.
The running game has rumbled on the season of 167.8 ypg with Chris Thompson and his 698 yards 5 touchdowns is the main option. The Seminoles like it’s passing attack doesn’t focus in on one runner as Ty Jones helped the team with 5 touchdowns and Jermaine Thomas 6 touchdowns.
PICK: Florida State University Seminoles
This game goes down on the CBS network and it features the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish taking on the University of Miami Hurricanes in the 76th annual Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Notre Dame, 7-5, 11 of the 12 games that Fighting Irish played this season came against bowl eligible teams. First year head coach Brian Kelly clearly has his squad playing with a wealth of confidence after being hit hard with the by injury bug during the season.
Notre Dame lost quarterback Dayne Crist in the ninth game and Kyle Rudolph to injuries. The offense looks quite different now then at the start of the season who are lead by Tommy Rees. Rees has completed 63 percent of his passes for 905 yards with 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His favorite target as of late is Michael Floyd who has 916 yards and 10 touchdowns in the 11 games that he has played. The Fighting Irish are scoring 25 ppg behind 378.2 total ypg and the 36 touchdowns the team has scored 26 have been passing.
Definsively Manti Te’o is the man to watch, as the linebacker has 127 total tackles, including 9.5 tackles for loss.
Miami, 7-5, 5-3 ACC, the Hurricanes fired head coach Randy Shannon before the conclusion of the season after the team once again fell short of expectations. Miami then decided that former Temple head coach Al Golden was the right man for the job. Golden becomes the 22nd head coach in the history of Hurricane football and has a proven track record of rebuilding programs. After taking over the Owls, who went 0-11 the season prior to his arrival, Golden led his team to a 17-5 record over the last 22 regular-season games.
Golden was an excellent hire by Miami however won’t be on the sidelines in the Sun Bowl, as that job will fall to holdover offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
Jacory Harris is the teams quarterback who has thrown for 1,756 yards and 14 scores with 12 interceptions and missed the last three games of the season due to injury. Miami has one of the nations top wide reciever in Leonard Hankerson,who has accounted for 66 receptions 1,085 yards and 12 touchdowns, that leads the in all three categories. Damien Berry does the bulk of the carries in the rushing game with his 865 yards and 5 touchdowns while second option Lamar Miller has 6ix touchdowns and 633 yards.
Sean Spence is a man to watch on defense as he has 17 tackles for loss and 101 tackles.
Miami owns an all-time bowl record of 19-16 while Notre Dame is 14-15 all-time in bowls. The Fighting Irish and Hurricanes are set to face off for the 24th time, with the two teams meeting for the first time since 1990. Notre Dame holds a 15-7-1 series lead.
PICK: University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of South Florida Bulls taking on Clemson University Tigers in the 9th annual Meineke Care Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Clemson, 6-6, 4-4 ACC, Tigers season has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far after reaching the ACC title game last year. they faltered down the stretch this year, going 2-2 over their last four games to finish at 6-6.
Clemson is led offensively by quarterback Kyle Parker, who has thrown for 2,079 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. In the regular-season finale Parker was benched in the third quarter in favor of redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd. Parker is expected to get the start despite a heated sideline exchange with head coach Dabo Swinney following the benching.
The offense has dragged its feet all season, due in part to the departure of running back C.J. Spiller to the NFL. The void has been filled most prominently by Jamie Harper, who has rushed for 726 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. The Tigers are averaging 146.4 rushing ypg, 191.4 passing ypg and 23 ppg.
Defensively the Tigers have Sunday bound Da’Quan Bowers who is the Bronco Nagurski Trophy winner with his 15.5 sacks on the year. He also has recorded 67 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss.
South Florida, 7-5, 3-4 Big East, Bulls experienced a productive season under first-year coach Skip Holtz, as they matched last year’s win total and finished the season strong, winning four of their final six games. Three of the team’s five losses were decided by a touchdown or less.
The Bulls was lead by quarterback B.J. Daniels, who threw for 1,496 yards, 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions before he suffered a quadriceps injury late in the year. True freshman Bobby Eveld played well in Daniels absence leading a fourth-quarter comeback against Miami and playing efficiently in his only start, against UConn. Coach Holtz has said that the team will prepare as if Eveld will get the start who has completed 42-of-75 passes for 454 yards and 2 touchdowns with 3 interceptions.
A constant in the USF backfield has been senior running back Moise Plancher, who was the team’s leading rusher this season with 743 yards and 4 touchdowns, after being granted a sixth year of eligibility due to medical hardships. He leads a backfield which has amassed 17 rushing touchdowns and averages 149.4 rushing ypg. However the team will be without fullback Jeff Hawkins and running back Bradley Battle due to injury.
This matchup marks the first ever meeting between South Florida and Clemson.
PICK: Clemson University Tigers
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Tennessee Volunteers taking on the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in the 12th annual Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee.
North Carolina, 7-5, 4-4 ACC, started off the season with high expectations only to find itself in an 0-2 hole amid a slew of NCAA suspensions that involved 12 players due to receiving benefits and being associated with agents.The NCAA’s evaluation dragged well into the second month of the season and weighed heavily on the Tar Heels, who eventually saw the dismissal of senior defensive tackle and All-American candidate Marvin Austin and were handed permanent ineligibility rulings on top returning wideout senior Greg Little as well as first-team preseason All-American defensive end Robert Quinn and senior starting cornerback Charles Brown.
Tar Heels persevered under head coach Butch Davis to gain a bowl bid for the third straight year, but dropped its last three to end the season. Under a season of turmoil the play of senior quarterback T.J. Yates, who holds UNC career records for completions, attempts, yards and completion percentage and is second in touchdowns, was very consistent and rose up to the occasion at times. Yates threw for 3,184 yards and 18 touchdowns with just 8 interceptions while completing 67.6 percent of his passes. Yates favorite target down field was junior wideout Dwight Jones, who had 895 yards and 4 touchdowns scores on 57 catches.
Senior running back Anthony Elzy has come on strong for the Tar Heels since taking over as the starter in the backfield averaging 177 all-purpose yards over UNC’s final three games and finished as the team’s second leading receiver with 338 yards.
The Tar Heel defense took the biggest hit via off field incidents giving up 338.5 yards per game.
Tennessee, 6-6, 3-5 SEC, came on strong to win its last four games under the first year of head coach Derek Dooley after Lane Kiffin up and bolted after one year. The Volunteers are handled by freshman quarterback Tyler Bray, who the Vols offense has flourished with 50 and 52 points in consecutive weeks in wins over Memphis and Ole Miss. Bray appeared in eight games and threw for 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns with 7 interceptions and connected on 54.7 percent of his throws.
Bray had quite a few options to work with, mainly junior Tauren Poole who racked up 994 rushing yards with 11 touchdowns on an averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Senior Denarius Moore led the receiving corps with 912 yards and 9 touchdowns. Gerald Jones, Luke Stocker, and freshman Justin Hunter where stellar as well this year especially Hunter who only made just 15 catches but had 6 touchdowns, a UT freshman record, and gained 407 yards with a 27.1 yard average.
The Tar Heels are 12-16 all-time in bowl games with losses in each of their last three postseason appearances. Tennessee is 25-23 all-time in postseason play and making its 49th bowl appearance, which is tied for second in NCAA history alongside Texas.
PICK: University of Tennessee Volunteers
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features East Carolina University Pirates taking on the University of Maryland Terrapins in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, previously known as the EagleBank Bowl, which is now in its 3rd year taking place at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
East Carolina, 6-6, 5-3 C-USA, is lead under first year head coach Ruffin McNeill and has the Pirates strength being their explosive passing attack, which ranks 7th nationally at 319.3 ypg. Quarterback Dominique Davis has thrown for 36 touchdowns while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes. His 3,699 passing yards are the 4th-most in the nation. Behind Davis the Pirates rank 12th in the nation in scoring at 38 ppg.
The Pirates have a pair of top-notch receivers in Lance Lewis and Dwayne Harris, a First Team All-Conference USA pick as both a wideout and punt returner. Lewis has caught 78 passes for 979 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns, while Harris set single-season school records with 93 catches and 1,055 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns. The rushing game is handled by Jon Williams who has rushed for 846 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Defensivley the Pirates have found themselves in shootouts on a weekly basis this season as they ranked dead last out of 120 Division I schools in total defense at 478.8 ypg and rank 118th in scoring defense at 43 ppg.
Maryland, 8-4, 5-3 ACC, had the second best turnaround in all of college football season as they posted a 6 win increase from a year ago. However, the Terps suffered a pair of late-season losses to division leaders Florida State and Miami to finish one game shy of qualifying for the ACC title game. Now, they must be carry a heavy emotional burden into this game as Athletic Director Kevin Anderson had decided to not bring back head coach Ralph Friedgen, who was responsible for the turnaround next season and named the ACC Coach of the Year.
The Terps offense has been anything but dynamic, as they rank 85th nationally in total offense 342.4 ypg and have had virtually no running game. However, in their last three wins the Terps quarterback Danny O’Brien began to grow into the role of the teams leader and displayed it on the field in each performance. On the season as whole though O’Brien has completed only 56.8 percent of his passes while throwing 21 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. A major part of O’Brien late season success was his ability to find Torrey Smith who has caught 65 passes for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he’ll no doubt be able to work his strengths against a Pirates horrible secondary.
This marks the first ever meeting between these two schools.
PICK: University of Maryland Terrapins
Players from the University of Miami and Notre Dame have been told they will not be allowed to cross the border into one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities during their free time before the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly took his team’s passports before the Fighting Irish flew to El Paso as a precaution. The Hurricanes didn’t bring passports, either, and met with both local law enforcement and the FBI on Monday shortly after arriving in Texas to further underscore the potential dangers of crossing the border.
Fans from both schools have also been urged to be cautious. El Paso borders the Mexican city of Cuidad Juarez, which is wrapped in a drug war. Officials say more than 3,000 people have been killed there this year alone, and the vast majority of crimes in the city are never investigated.
The Sun Bowl is Friday.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features West Virginia University Mountaineers taking on North Carolina State University Wolfpack in the 21st annual Champs Sports Bowl features at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
West Virginia, 9-3, 5-2 Big East, earned a share of the Big East title this season, but lost out on the tie-breaker with UConn. West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart Mountaineers won its last four games of the regular season has its offense came alive down the stretch, scoring 35 or more points in three of its final four games and cracking 500 total yards in a finale win over Rutgers. Turnovers however, have been an issue for the Mountaineers, as they have committed 23, including 16 lost fumbles.
Running the offense for the Mountaineers is sophomore Geno Smith, as he was in his first season as a starter, completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts with 23 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. Jock Sanders served as Smith’s safety outlet with a team-high 64 catches, while Tavon Austin provided a deep threat with 757 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. The Mountaineers also have a threat in the backfield with Noel Devine, though his season was slowed by ankle and foot issues. The speedy back totaled just 884 yards after entering the season as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
Defensively the Mountaineers have been outstanding for the most part this season and they rank second in both run with 85.1 ypg and scoring defense at 12 ppg. Bruce Irvin leads the team with 12 sacks while Julian Miller adds 8 to go with a 13 tackles for loss. In the secondary Keith Tandy has a team high 6 interceptions.
NC State, 8-4, 5-3 ACC, suffered a 38-31 loss to Maryland in its regular-season finale that cost the team the Atlantic Division title and a spot in the ACC Championship game. Head coach Tom O’Brien’s offense revolves around Russell Wilson, who is one of the most talented quarterbacks around with a strong arm and mobility. Wilson has thrown for 3,288 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 394 more yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Wilson does lack accuracy as he has only completing 58.1 percent of his pass attempts with 14 interceptions.
Owen Spencer is Wilson’s favorite target in the passing game, as he leads the roster with 57 catches and 868 receiving yards. Jarvin Williams is another option and he ranks second behind 46 receptions for 636 yards. The ground game is lead by Mustafa Greene as he has amassed only 584 yards on the season.
Defensively the Wolfpack averages nearly 8 tackles for a loss per game to limit opponents to 115 yards on the ground. Nate Irving has been outstanding for NC State as he has 20.5 tackles for loss on the season and leads the team with 6 sacks.
The Mountaineers own a 13-16 all-time record in bowl games and are coming off a loss to Florida State in the Gator Bowl last season. NC State owns a 12-11-1 record in bowl games with their last postseason appearance came in 2008 and was loss to Rutgers. The Mountaineers and Wolfpack have met previously nine times including twice in the postseason where the Mountaineers holds a 5-4 edge in the series.
PICK: West Virginia University Mountaineers
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the Air Force Falcons taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the in the 35th annual AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Air Force, 8-4 5-3 MWC, Troy Calhoun’s Falcons marked their fourth straight season that the service academy has posted eight wins or more. Air Force closed the year out strong with three straight victories, but couldn’t ascend the MWC Mountain, with losses to both TCU and Utah in October.
Air Force will attempt to move the chains by the way of their ground attack, which is so productive that it doesn’t matter that opponents know its coming, they still can’t stop it. Air Force finished second in the nation in rushing this year at a hefty 317.9 yards per game. The passing game plays a distant second fiddle at just 119.5 yards per game, but the team does come in averaging over 30 points per game.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson fuels the attack ranking second on the team in rushing with 769 yards, but has scored 15 of the team’s 40 rushing touchdowns. Tailback Asher Clark is the top rusher with 1,001 yards this season and 5 touchdowns. Fullback Nathan Walker adds to a deep backfield with his 453 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The top receiver on the team has just 17 catches on the year, but Jefferson hasn’t been bad with his arm when the time comes to throw the ball as he has completed 52.2 percent of his throws, for 1,342 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Georgia Tech, 6-6, 4-4 ACC, saw Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets win the ACC and earn a BCS bowl bid last year. However, repeating as champions was not in the cards as they dropped four of its last five games.
The Yellow Jackets can run the ball as well and do so just as much as Air Force does and actually is a tad more productive, ranking first in the country this season at 327.0 yards per game. It all revolves around quarterback Joshua Nesbitt but the senior missed the last three and a half games after breaking his right forearm to Virgina Tech and has yet to be cleared to play in this game. With 2,806 career rushing yards, Nesbitt’s potential absence could be a huge factor as they will have to go with sophomore Tevin Washington who has filled in but he hasn’t been as productive
The good news is that running back Anthony Allen is at full strength and averaging 5.6 yards per carry which has gone for a total of 1,225 yards and 6 touchdown. Tech like Air Force has done a majority of its scoring on the ground with 30 touchdowns compared to the 9 in the air.
This marks Georgia Tech’s first appearance in the Independence Bowl and are 22-16 all-time in postseason play after last seasons 24-14 loss to Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Air Force is making its third appearance in this bowl while being 9-10-1 all-time. They are coming off last years 47-20 win against Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl. This is the fourth time these two teams have met with Georgia Tech winning all three prior meetings.
PICK: Air Force Falcons
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Florida State University Seminoles taking on Virginia Tech Hokies in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Frank Beamer’s Hokies opened the year with two straight losses. The first was a hard-fought setback to top-five foe Boise State, but the second was an unforgivable loss to Division II James Madison. Beamer was able to rally the team and ran the table with 10 straight wins and a flawless 8-0 ACC slate to earn a spot in the conference title game. It is the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that Tech has recorded 10 or more victories and this represents the Hokies fourth trip to the ACC Championship Game.
There is no secret to Virginia Tech’s offensive gameplan week-in and week-out, as they like to impose their will on an opponent with their ground assault. The team has certainly done well in that area this season, averaging 211.4 yards per game rushing on 5.1 yards per carry. While the backfield has a number of quality backs in Darren Evans, 748 yards, 10 TDs, David Wilson, 573 yards, 5 TDs, and Ryan Williams, 428 yards, 9 TDs, it is the play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor which has stood out the most.
Taylor earned All-ACC First-Team honors this season for his outstanding play as a rusher, 613 yards, 4 TDs, but more so for his play as a passer, where he has completed 60.2 percent of his throws for 2,258 yards, with 20 TDs and just 4 INTs. Wideout Jarrett Boykin has been the top recipient of Taylor’s improved play under center, hauling in 45 balls, for 728 yards and 5 TDs.
The Tech defense has had its problems with the run this year, 156.9 ypg, 13 rushing TDs allowed. However if an opponent is forced to pass the ball, the Hokies have recorded 32 sacks and 20 interceptions.
Despite being under new leadership in Jimbo Fisher, the Seminoles began the season with high hopes, thanks to a veteran signal caller and a strong defense. Well, the Seminoles didn’t need to rely solely on the play under center, but instead got back to running the football and the result has been a nine-win season to this point, including a 6-2 mark in-conference. The team enters this contest with three straight wins, including an impressive victory over Florida last weekend (31-7). The Seminoles needed some help elsewhere down the stretch but got it, landing them in the championship game, where they will vie for their 13th league title in 19 years as a member of the conference.
Florida State has put itself in a position to earn a BCS Bowl bid thanks to a balanced offensive attack that is generating 390.8 yards of offense. The rushing attack has been productive averaging 177.4 yards per game on 5.0 yards per carry. It is not one workhorse back doing the majority of the damage, but rather a collective effort from tailbacks like Chris Thompson, 686 yards, 6.8 ypc, 5 TDs, Ty Jones, 496 yards, 6.4 ypc, 2 TDs, and Jermaine Thomas, 484 yards, 5.7 ypc, 6 TDs.
The ground game has taken some of the pressure off of Christian Ponder under center as he’s been completing 62.2 percent of his throw for 2,038 yards and 20 TDs. The receiving corps is talented and can make plays when FSU does get vertical like wideout Bert Reed 547 yards, 2 TDs and Willie Haulstead 500 yards, 6 TDs.
The Florida State defense has made strides toward being one of the conference’s most feared units again, as the team is allowing just 17 ppg this year, while yielding 341.3 yards of total offense.
Florida State holds a 22-11-1 advantage in the all-time series and has won 13 of the last 14 meetings, overall.
PICK: Virginia Tech Hokies
Three years ago Donald Trump made no mistake in suggestion former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach for the the job at the University of Miami. He hasn’t let up his pursuit of his friend getting the job and has expressed his discontent with Miami University president Donna Shalala in Trump fashion:
Donna, you made a big mistake when you did not take my advice and hire Mike Leach of Texas Tech — look what’s happened to them since he left [something no one can seem to read] — Hire Coach Leach and you will be number one. Best wishes, Donald — And you can get him for the right price. Best wishes, Donald.”
University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris was on the wrongside of the word primetime as he took on this massive hit from Virginia’s defensive tackle John-Kevin Dolce. The hit was hard but clean and kinda impossible to pull off with all the rules that protect quarterbacks these days. Harris left the game and did not come back.