ACC Bowl Tie-ins
- Orange Bowl
- Chik-Fil-A Bowl
- Russell Athletic Bowl
- Sun Bowl
- Belk Bowl
- Music City Bowl
- Independence Bowl
- Military Bowl
- Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Florida State (11-2), as expected, snagged the Orange Bowl bid … but it had to sweat out a 21-15 win over Georgia Tech in the ACC title game.
Odd Bowl Rule #1: The Bowl Championship Series agreed to automatically take a conference champion from a non-automatic-qualifier conference, ranked in the BCS top 16, that is ranked higher than at least one champion of an automatic-qualifier conference. It was a means to fend off potential antitrust lawsuits. If you can follow all that, then you’ve figured out why Northern Illinois is playing in the Orange Bowl for big bucks and a prime TV slot, when otherwise a Florida State-Northern Illinois game would scrape for time on basic cable. Anyway, there you go.
Clemson (10-2) is headed to the Chik-Fil-A Bowl after missing out on an at-large BCS bid. Losing to in-state rival South Carolina probably sealed that deal. But opponent LSU is near-BCS-worthy as well.
Virginia Tech (6-6) is set for the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The Hokies edged into bowl-eligibility with a 17-14 win over in-state rival Virginia. They will face Rutgers.
Odd Bowl Rule #2: If a team finishes 6-6 before a conference title game, but qualifies for said game, and then loses, it can still be bowl-eligible, despite a losing record, if there are open spots. Therefore … Georgia Tech (6-7) goes to El Paso for the Sun Bowl after losing the conference title to Florida State. USC, which one thought of itself as a national championship contender, gets to finish its year against a team with a losing record.
But in Durham, NC, just playing football in December is a victory. Duke (6-6) will get the privilege this year, facing Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte.
N.C. State (7-5) knocked off Florida State to derail its path to the national title game, but was otherwise unimpressive, at least to the university brass, who fired coach Tom O’Brien. The new coach is Dave Doeren from … Orange Bowl-bound Northern Illinois (see Odd Bowl Rule #1). The Wolfpack will face Vanderbilt in the Commodores hown-town Music City Bowl.
The other ACC slots went unfilled, opening up opportunities for other schools.