ACC Bowl Preview Part Two

N.C. State and Maryland kick things off for the ACC in this post-Christmas edition of our ACC Bowl Preview.

N.C. State (6-6) vs Rutgers (7-5) Bowl, Dec. 29 3 PM
This is the first bowl appearance for the Wolfpack since 2005 and their first under second-year head coachTom O'Brien. Fans in Raleigh are hoping he has as much success as he did when he guided the Boston College program in the postseason because he won seven straight bowl games during his time there. Strangely enough, State may have been playing the best football of anyone in the league at the end of the year knocking off Duke, Wake, North Carolina and Miami in the last four weeks of the regular season to become bowl eligible. The main factor in the Wolfpack's strong finish was the play of red-shirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson. He hasn't thrown an interception in his last 226 passes and all he has done in his last six games is go 107-of-185 for 1453 yards and 13 touchdowns.

By the way, Wilson was the first team All-ACC QB and the league freshman of the Year. Something tells me everyone in the ACC will be glad when his career is over in Raleigh.

As good as N.C. State played down the stretch, Rutgers may have played even better. The Scarlett Knights started the season 1-5. That's right they finished the regular season with a six game winning streak. I think this game will be one of the best of the bowl season and will be a springboard to 2009 for the winner. Prediction: NC State 31 Rutgers 30

Maryland (7-5) vs Nevada (7-5) Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 30 4:30 PM
As good as I think NC State-Rutgers will be, this game shapes up to be the absolute stinker of the bowl season. Through December 17 Maryland had sold 16 tickets to the game on the blue turf. Don't laugh, that is double the number Nevada had sold. The Wolfpack ticket office boasted eight tickets purchased at the same time. Boise, I hope the locals turn out to watch this epic match-up. I don't have to waste any more space on this game do I? Prediction: As the great Clubber Lang once said, "Pain". Maryland 16 Nevada 8

Boston College (9-4) vs Vanderbilt (6-6) Gaylord's Hotels Music City Bowl, Dec. 31 3:30 PM
Some of you may have heard me rant about the lack of leadership provided by ACC Commissioner John Swofford recently. This game is yet another example of which I speak. How in the world does a team that played for the ACC Championship play in this game? One answer is economics. I like the folks from Boston, but they just don't care about Eagles and that has more to do with this than anything else. Don't get me wrong this is a good, solid football program but nobody outside the Catholic faith cares about them, certainly nobody south of the Mason-Dixon. Someone should care though because Jeff Jagodzinski is a good coach and I like the style of football his team plays. This is a program that is also use to winning in a bowl game as they carry the nation's best winning streak in bowl contests with eight in a row.

Meanwhile Vandy is in its first bowl game since 1982 and just their fourth overall. They do get the advantage of playing in their home town, but that's about it. The Commodores are awful on offense averaging just less than 261 yards per game. Boston College is awfully good on defense boosting the nation's sixth-best unit in total yards allowed giving up just 273.38 per game. Good defense almost always beats bad offense. Prediction: Boston College 24 Vanderbilt 13

Georgia Tech (9-3) vs LSU (7-5) Chic-Fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31 7:30 PM
Make no mistake about it, the Yellow Jackets have become media darlings. Paul Johnson has done a very good job in his first year in Atlanta and perhaps the biggest thing he did was go to Athens and beat archrival Georgia for the first time since Mark Richt took over the Bulldogs earlier this decade. His reward came when he was awarded a 17 million dollar plus contract extension. There is no fence sitting with Johnson. You either like his unorthodox offense or you think it is just a fad. I am in the first group ... I like what he does and I think it is good for the game. Remember this is a guy who worked for June Jones of the spread it out and throw it all over the field coaching philosophy. Johnson is just the opposite. He wants to option you to death and run it all over the field.

The Yellow Jackets have the third best rushing offense in college football averaging better than 282 yards per game. What do we always say are the keys to winning football games? Run the football and stop the run. The Jackets do just that as defensively they only give up 117 yards per game on the ground.

Meanwhile the Bayou Bengals have not exactly had the best of seasons. Coming off a national championship year, 7-5 was not exactly what Les Miles expected. Quarterback play for LSU has been abysmal. Defensively LSU is pretty good. Their front four is about as good as it gets and the defensive unit is good against the run giving up only 106 yards per game. So it is strength versus strength to close out 2008 in Atlanta, give me the hometown team. Prediction: Georgia Tech 26 LSU 20

Virginia Tech (9-4) vs Cincinnati (11-2) Fed Ex Orange Bowl, Jan.1 8:30 PM
The ACC's champ versus the Big East champ, this would be much better if it were a basketball game between the league champs. I would pay to see that, but judging from the fact that some tickets to this game are selling for 99 cents not many are interested in this football match-up. I ran into Mike O'Cain on the Clemson campus when he was here for his daughter's graduation in December. He told me no one in Blacksburg from a fan stand point was too fired up about the Hokies berth in the Orange Bowl. I hope that doesn't spread to the players because if it does Va. Tech will get rolled.

Brian Kelly has done a remarkable job with the Bearcats. Last year they won 10 games, this year it was 11. Cincy likes to throw the ball airing it out for better than 250 yards per game. Virginia Tech wants to control the ball with the running game and they have a quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and a running back in Darren Evans that can do just that. Virginia Tech has the seventh best overall defense in the country and Cincinnati has the 26th. Could this game come down to special teams? If it does are you going to go against Frank Beamer? I know I won't. Prediction: Virginia Tech 21 Cincinnati 18 Top Stories