Clear Your Schedule – ACC 2014, Bowl Games (Part 2)

By Brian Wilmer -

The ACC bowl schedule this season has proven to be a bit…well, front-loaded.  We featured quite a few of the conference’s contests in part one of this piece, and we now have an interesting assortment of games gracing part two.  We have two schools who have lost head coaches, a school who’s lost a running back and the first-ever College Football Playoff semifinal matchup, among others.  This may — or may not — be the final piece on the ACC in a 2014 season we first began to chronicle greater than four months ago.  It’s been a ride full of fun and #goacc moments, and it’s time to close it (potentially) with our final trivia question (maybe) of the 2014 season!

ACC Trivia, Bowl Games, Part 2 (answer at the end of the column):  Florida State has won 29 consecutive games, which ties them with Miami-FL (1990-1993) and Michigan (1901-1903) for the 13th-longest streak of all-time.  Which school holds the longest all-time winning streak, and who ended it?

Keyword Search (all times Eastern and rankings AP)

Belk Bowl
#20 Louisville (9-3, 5-3 ACC) vs. #13 Georgia (9-3, 6-2 SEC)
6:30pm, Tuesday (12/30) | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte | ESPN

  • Throwing in a phone booth:  Louisville’s 50th-place ranking in passing offense appears a bit pedestrian at first glance, but consider what it was.  DeVante Parker has played in just five contests after coming back from injury, but those five games have seen him snag 35 passes for 735 yards and five of the Cardinals’ nine passing scores during that time.  The Cards haven’t exactly lit it up during that span — they’ve thrown for greater than 300 yards in just two of those five games — but they are 4-1 in those games.  They now get to face the top passing defense in America, as the Bulldogs allow just 158.4 passing yards per game.
  • Missed opportunities — maybe:  Where Louisville could have made — and still might make — some hay was on the ground.  The Bulldogs sport the 77th-ranked rush defense among FBS teams, allowing 176.4 yards per game.  However, Louisville running back Michael Dyer will not play in the game, as he was determined to be academically ineligible.  Brandon Radcliff (648 yards, 11 TD) and Dominique Brown (378 yards, 4 TD) will tote the rock for Bobby Petrino’s Cards.  Georgia’s opponents have averaged 4.29 yards per carry or greater in each of the Bulldogs’ last five games, with a 418-yard performance against Florida and 399-yard effort against Georgia Tech serving as the bookends for that streak.
  • Filling holes:  Georgia’s offensive gameplan will bear watching, particularly early on.  Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and running game coordinator/offensive line coach Will Friend have departed for Fort Collins, Colorado, with Bobo taking over as the head coach of the Colorado State Rams.  Tight ends coach John Lilly will call plays in the game, and though Georgia still features the same talent, their continuity could experience a few speed bumps.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  We may be telling a different story had this game been played October 30, but it should still be one of the best we see this postseason.

Capital One Orange Bowl
#10 Georgia Tech (10-3, 6-2) vs. #8 Mississippi State (10-2, 6-2)
8:00pm Wednesday, 12/31 | Sun Life Stadium, Miami | ESPN

  • 21st Century Outfoxed:  These two combatants have faced off four times in their collective histories, with the Jackets taking all four.  Consecutive victories in 2008 and 2009 accompany “W”s from the 1908 and 1929 seasons.
  • If any year were the year…:  Mississippi State features a vaunted offense that helped catapult them to the top spot in the polls for a decent amount of the year.  The Bulldogs sport top-20 rankings in points scored, rushing offense and total offense.  The Ramblin’ Wreck, conversely, rank in the 50s and 60s in every major defensive category.  Dan Mullen’s club ranks 25th in rush defense (Georgia Tech is second in rush offense), and Mississippi State’s 122nd-ranked pass defense is shielded by Georgia Tech’s 120th-ranked pass offense.
  • Thorough on third:  If you’ve paid any attention to my ramblings in this space, you’re well aware of my continued emphasis on third-down stops.  Opponents find those stops few and far between against the Jackets, with Georgia Tech’s 57 percent completion percentage (90-for-158)  the top ranking in the land.  On the other side of the field, the Bulldogs’ foes find success on third just 33 percent (63-for-193) of the time.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  The Bulldogs look to put a cap on an historic season in Starkville.  Georgia Tech tries to rebound from a demoralizing loss to FSU.

Rose Bowl – National Semifinal
#2 Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC) vs. #3 Oregon (12-1, 8-1 Pac-12)
5:00pm Thursday, 1/1 | The Rose Bowl | ESPN

  • Simultaneous stiff-arms:  It is not so common that two previous Heisman winners face off on the field.  It had not happened, in fact, prior to the 2004 Orange Bowl.  Former Heisman winners Matt Leinart and Jason White faced off in that contest.  As everyone here knows, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the trophy this season, with FSU’s Jameis Winston having taken home the hardware last season.
  • Sign your name:  Oregon’s sports information department notes that Mariota possesses school records in a seemingly-unbelievable seven offensive categories after just three seasons in Eugene.  Mariota holds the records in total offense, passing
    yards, completions, touchdown passes, total touchdowns, total points accounted for and consecutive passes without an interception.  Two touchdown passes by Mariota in any remaining games for his team would give him the single-season Pac-12 record for touchdown throws.  Running back Royce Freeman is also just 228 yards from the Pac-12 freshman rushing record.  Freeman has 230 carries for 1,299 yards and 16 scores.
  • The rare Benjamins:  Both teams take up a lot of real estate in top-twenty rankings on both sides of the field, but they each feature an interesting ranking in the 100s.  Florida State’s rushing offense has been anemic this season, ranking 101st in the FBS (134.8 yards per game).  The Seminoles have not rushed for greater than 181 yards against any FBS opponent this season, and have had three contests in which they have averaged fewer than three yards per carry.  Oregon, meanwhile, ranks 100th in pass defense.  The Ducks have stiffened through the air of late, though, surrendering just 434 yards to their last three opponents.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  This should be an epic matchup.  Oregon looks to bring respect to the Pac-12, while FSU looks to repeat.  Stay tuned.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Pitt (6-6, 4-4 ACC) vs. Houston (7-5, 5-3 AAC)
Noon Friday, 1/2 | Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX | ESPN

  • Take me to your leader:  Neither team will take the field with the head coach they had to start the season.  Houston fired coach Tony Levine after the season came to a close.  Defensive coordinator David Gibbs will keep the sideline warm for Tom Herman, the former Ohio State offensive coordinator who will lead the Cougars next season.  Pitt’s Paul Chryst has set sail for familiar territory in Wisconsin, leaving Joe Rudolph to helm the Panthers on an interim basis.
  • Conner’s the man:  The Cougars will have to account for Pitt running back James Conner on every snap, for several reasons.  First, Pitt’s pass offense poses little threat, as the unit is ranked 103rd in the FBS (182.9 yards per game).  Most importantly, though, Conner now holds the ACC single-season record for touchdowns by a running back.  Conner’s 1675 yards lead the conference (fifth-best in the nation), and his 24 scores place him just behind Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Boise State’s Jay Ajayi.
  • Cruisin’ Cougar:  Just as Pitt has their punishing running back, so too does Houston.  Kenneth Farrow finished fourth in the American this season with 934 rushing yards, finding the end zone 12 times.  Farrow needs three touchdowns to become the single-season leader for the Cougars, and needs 66 yards to join 24 other Cougar backs as 1,000-yard rushers in a single season.  Farrow has rushed for 110 yards or greater in three consecutive games and four of his last five.

Print that, tweet that, whatever:  Sure, there’s little drama in this game — especially after FSU plays — but this game will shape both schools’ futures.

Trivia answer:  I asked earlier:  Florida State has won 29 consecutive games, which ties them with Miami-FL (1990-1993) and Michigan (1901-1903) for the 13th-longest streak of all-time.  Which school holds the longest all-time winning streak, and who ended it?

Oklahoma won 47 consecutive games from 1953-1957.  Notre Dame ended the Sooners’ streak with a 7-0 victory in Norman on November 16, 1957.

Questions? Comments? Leftover sparkling grape juice? Follow Brian on Twitter @sportsmatters!

Comment (1)

Another really good column with all stats and info necessary to make an intelligent pick.Unfortunately ,a lot of the games thus far have been surprising.Has anyone seen Okla.,or are they still absent?
My big upset here is Florida St.going down to Oregon.