Two wins. Five straight losing postseasons. Zero BCS wins. More points than you’ve ever seen scored in any bowl game ever in the history of bowl games.
It all added up to countless embarrassment for the ACC this bowl season.
Spring practices, summer camp, the opening kickoff for 2012 -- none of it could possibly come fast enough after the ACC’s downright dismal finish to the 2011 bowl season. Only Florida State and NC State were able to come away with bowl wins, but it wasn’t just the overall 2-6 bowl record that was devastating to the ACC’s image, it was the final loss -- Clemson’s 70-33 beatdown by West Virginia -- that made the league the joke of the postseason. It was a new low for the ACC, which saw its respect dip a notch below the Big East this year.
It all began on a sour note with North Carolina’s flat performance in a 41-24 loss to Missouri. UNC gave up 31 points in the first half of the final game under interim coach Everett Withers, and the Tar Heels set the tone for the league. NC State and Florida State gave the ACC hope, though, with wins over Louisville and Notre Dame, respectively. It was an impressive three-touchdown performance by Wolfpack quarterback Mike Glennon, and once again the Seminoles’ defense made the difference in an 18-14 win over the Irish. FSU had to climb out of a 14-point second-half deficit, but two touchdown passes by EJ Manuel, two field goals from Dustin Hopkins and a rapid maturation of a young offensive line led the comeback.
The highlights end there.
Wake Forest couldn’t stop Mississippi State, despite winning the turnover battle 4-0, and Georgia Tech squandered a 14-point lead before losing to Utah in overtime. Virginia made Auburn look like All-American track stars in a 43-24 loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Hoos’ performance was a reminder that they were promoted to that bowl thanks to Virginia Tech’s unexpected selection in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Is it too late to give those BCS bids back? The ACC went 0-for-2 in its first season with two teams in BCS bowls, and while Virginia Tech’s narrow 23-20 overtime loss to Michigan was respectable, it was yet another yawn in the Hokies’ tired postseason storyline. There was no comparison, though, to what happened in New Orleans (a strong defensive performance in a loss) to what happened in Miami (absolutely no defense in what had to be one of the league’s most embarrassing losses ever).
The ACC dropped to an indefensible 2-13 in BCS bowls. Its respect dropped even further.