ACC Bowl Preview

Don Munson checks in with an early look at the ACC's bowl games.

North Carolina (8-4) vs. West Virginia (8-4) Meineke Car Care Bowl, December 27 (1 PM)
This will be the first bowl appearance for the Tar Heels since 2004, which just so happen to come in this same game. Things looked so promising for Butch Davis's squad after nine games this season. They were sitting at 7-2 and were on the verge of winning the ACC Coastal division, but two losses in their last three games including a 41-10 drubbing by North Carolina State in Chapel Hill to end the season has taken a little shine off the 2008 campaign. A win over West Virginia would certainly bring some of that luster back.

The Mountaineers boost two of the more prolific offensive names in college football with Noel Devine and Patrick White. Devine averages nearly 103 yards rushing per game and White gobbles up about 84 yards rushing per contest. West Virginia boosts the sixth best rushing offense in the country (211.17 yards/game). North Carolina's defense counters that giving up only 141 yards per contest which is 57th best in the nation. The Tar Heels need to make Pat White beat them through the air. The Mountaineers are only 2-9 all time versus teams from the ACC in bowl games. I don't think they improve their record this year. Prediction: North Carolina 24 West Virginia 20

Florida State (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (7-5) Champs Sports Bowl, December 27 (4:30 PM)
This marks the first meeting between the teams and the first time the Seminoles have played in Orlando since a 1996 regular season neutral site game against Wake Forest. The Seminoles hold an 8-2-1 record all-time vs. current Big Ten opponents and boast a 21-14-2 all-time postseason bowl record. FSU has previously played five of the current 11 Big Ten schools. The last time FSU faced a Big Ten opponent was in the 2006 Orange Bowl when the Seminoles fell to Penn State in a 26-23 triple overtime thriller. This year marks the first-ever Champs bowl appearance for the Noles. Wisconsin will be making its 20th postseason appearance. The Badgers have earned nine bowl victories over the last 15 seasons, a mark that is second to only Boston College, which has 10 bowl wins over the last 15 seasons and boost a 10-9 overall bowl record.

Wisconsin broke their January bowl streak as the squad was one of only three teams in the country to play in four straight January bowl games. The contest marks just the second time in program history that the Badgers have faced an ACC team in their bowl game. Wisconsin defeated Duke in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl. The Badgers won three straight and four of the last five games to close out their 2008 campaign. Wisconsin, which has played in Florida now four consecutive postseasons, will feature a rushing attack that finished the regular season 14th nationally with 212 yards per game. The Seminoles hold the NCAA mark for the longest consecutive bowl victory streak, having won 11 straight between 1985 and 1996. This will be the Seminoles' 27th straight bowl trip under Head Coach Bobby Bowden, whose team has compiled 33 straight winning seasons. Prediction: Florida State 27 Wisconsin 17

Miami (7-5) vs. California (8-4) Emerald Bowl, December 27 (8 PM)
The Hurricanes will make their first-ever Emerald Bowl appearance, 34th overall postseason bowl showing and first bowl under head coach Randy Shannon. This will be the fourth time the 'Canes and the Golden Bears have met on the gridiron with Miami holding a 2-1 edge. The contest at AT&T Park will be the first time the teams have met at a neutral site. Miami has a 19-14 record in 33 previous bowls and is 8-2 in its last 10 bowl appearances. The last time the Canes played in the state of California was Jan. 3, 2003, when they beat Nebraska 37-14 in the Rose Bowl to win the national championship. Miami is 13-5 all-time against teams from the state of California and is 4-3 all-time playing inside the Golden State. California travels 8.5 miles from its Berkeley home to play this contest. The short trip is Cal's sixth straight appearance in a bowl game, a mark that is a school record. Watch for running back Jahvid Best. He ended the regular season with 1,394 rushing yards, the fourth-highest total in school history.

Cal is one of only two FBS schools to have a 1,000-yard rusher each of the last seven seasons New Mexico is the other. Cal went undefeated at home for the third straight season and there is no reason to think they will lose playing this close to home. Prediction: California 34 Miami 23

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