Count me among the surprised to see Clemson defeat Virginia Tech last Saturday in such dominating fashion. It’s not so much that Clemson won the game; after all they had beaten the Hokies already this season. But to beat them the way they did, when they seemingly had no momentum going into the game has to qualify as a shocker. Just a reminder, the Tigers had lost three of their last four games, while Virginia Tech had not lost a game since losing to Clemson; and further were coming off a dominating performance of their own in shutting out Virginia. Clemson proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it was the best team in the ACC this season.
With the conference title in hand, the Tigers now get ready for their BCS showcase-a game against West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. This looks to be an offensive showcase, as both team can put up points with the best of them. The early question seems to be which defense will make enough plays or get enough stops to keep points off the board. In what has to qualify as an “only in the BCS” moment, Virginia Tech also received an invite to a BCS bowl, as they will take on Michigan in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Virginia Tech had to have gotten their invite simply for the fact that their fans “travel” well. The Hokies passed several teams ranked ahead of them in the BCS standings-Boise State, Kansas State, Arkansas and South Carolina-to snag the bowl invite. While that is great news for the conference for putting two teams in BCS bowls for the first time, many pundits have criticized the Hokies’ selection. Chalk that up as one more reason there should be some kind of playoff in college football, but to argue that point is for another post and another time. The Hokies will have their hands full with Denard Robinson, who is just as athletic, if not more so, than Tajh Boyd of Clemson.
Rounding out the rest of the bowls featuring ACC teams (and thus a sideshow to the real important game): the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (I miss the days when these games didn’t have the corporate sponsor’s names on them) features North Carolina taking on Missouri. The Belk Bowl finds North Carolina State facing a young Louisville squad that was a co-champ of the mighty Big East conference. The Champs Sports Bowl features two teams that had higher expectations when the season began, but find themselves in a game a bit less than either expected: Florida State and Notre Dame. It sounds like a classic, but these teams are anything but. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl finds Wake Forest, which has to consider getting to a bowl a big accomplishment even after losing four of their last five games, taking on a Mississippi State Squad that didn’t quite meet expectations following a nine-win season last year. Georgia Tech takes its talents to El Paso to face Utah, a team that was one win away from possibly playing in the Pac-12 Championship game in its first season in the conference. And in what is now the Chick-fil-A bowl, Virginia’s Cavaliers will face off against the Auburn Tigers, which fell to earth after winning the national championship last season.