The ACC has a good opportunity to come out of the 2012 bowl season with a winning record.
Coming off the worst bowl record out of any Automatic Qualifying (AQ) conference last year, the ACC has favorable matchups this year and looks to change the conference’s poor reputation.
The conference has been criticized for its bad performance in bowls in recent years and for good reason. The ACC finished last bowl season with a dismal 2-6 record and a 0-2 record in Bowl Championship Series bowls.
Under the current BCS system, the ACC has won just two out of the 13 BCS bowl games it has played in. Those two wins are Virginia Tech’s Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati in 2009 and Florida State’s win over Tech in the 1999 National Championship, back when the Hokies were a part of the Big East. Although the conference has struggled in recent years, this might be the year for the ACC to change its losing trend.
The ACC’s bowl season starts off with Duke playing Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27. The Duke Blue Devils haven’t been to a bowl game since 1994, and I expect them to come out ready to go against a good Cincinnati team.
The Bearcats are favored in this game, but Duke's passing game will keep it close. The Bearcats have given up quite a few points to teams that like to throw the ball, which is perfect for a Duke team led by the quarterback/receiver duo of Sean Renfree and Connor Vernon. The Blue Devils will make this game close, but I believe will fall just short of winning.
Tech plays the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and if you like defense, then this is the game for you. The Scarlet Knights have arguably the best defense in the Big East, and the Hokies saw significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball in the second half of the season. The team that wins the turnover margin will win this game.
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova can be turnover prone at times, and I think the Hokies aggressive pass rush will force him into some bad decisions and ultimately the Hokies will win the game.