A handful of the nation’s top teams outside of Alabama and LSU fought to the wire in Pasadena, Calif. and Glendale, Ariz., while four other bowl games greeted viewers with meaningful storylines.
Oregon’s flashy lids needed all 60 minutes to stop Russell Wilson and the Rose Bowl-worthy Badgers. Oklahoma State survived a high-scoring Fiesta a few hours later thanks to a missed kick and a masterful performance from Biletnikoff-winning wideout Justin Blackmon.
The two games that ensued — Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl and Wednesday’s Orange — were bad for college football and more importantly, embarrassing for the Atlantic Coast Conference. With two shots at respect, the league fell on its head, facemask first.
The Bowl Championship Series’ surprising announcement of Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl slot in December meant the ACC would have two cracks in the spotlight. The Hokies’ at-large selection — with better teams on the table — was met with jeers from national media, and deservedly so.
Virginia Tech beat one ranked team this season and was humiliated twice by the conference’s other BCS qualifier, Clemson.
Following a flat performance in New Orleans against Michigan, another questionable at-large choice from the committee, the Hokies dropped the ACC’s flag with their fifth loss in six BCS appearances, pushing the conference’s record in marquee games to 2-12.
The solution is simple.
Enough with automatic qualifiers from conferences that haven’t proved their worth. Too many teams with impressive seasons are being left out of the BCS mix. The same Virginia Tech team that didn’t show up Dec. 3 in the ACC Championship Game took the Superdome field against Michigan and like the Wolverines, sputtered more often than not.
Organizers wanted the Hokies, wanted Frank Beamer … wanted money. Financial gain led to Boise State being shafted for the at-large bid. The asinine BCS rule of a two-team maximum from one league squandered possible invites for Arkansas and South Carolina, Top 10 teams from the Southeastern.
Most of the Sugar Bowl was painful to watch, a combination of missed opportunities, faulty execution and poor tackling.
As it turned out, things would only get worse for the ACC.
Clemson, the league’s poster child with four wins over ranked teams this season, folded in its first opportunity in a major bowl since 1981 the following night in Miami. After a back-and-forth first quarter with 23rd-ranked West Virginia, the Tigers were blown off the field the rest of the way by a better-prepared, three-loss Mountaineers squad.
To put Clemson’s humiliating 70-33 defeat into perspective, West Virginia had beaten an ACC team just three times in 14 all-time tries in bowl games. After the Mountaineers’ impressive 35-point outburst in the second quarter, this year’s Orange was over in a hurry.
Two wins in 15 BCS games over the last 11 years, none since 2008.
The BCS has too many problems to count, but let’s start the makeover in 2013 by stripping automatic bids from major conferences and letting the final regular season polls decide postseason matchups.
Catching up with Doug Flutie in Orlando
Flutie Flakes anyone?
A few hours before kickoff at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on Monday, I got an opportunity to meet Doug Flutie, Boston College’s former Heisman quarterback. He’s the wild-haired, little engine that could who once beat Miami in 1984 on an improbable, iconic Hail Mary. It seemed fitting that Flutie was in attendance for South Carolina’s 30-13 win over Nebraska, a game highlighted by Alshon Jeffery’s 51-yard snare on a Hail Mary as time expired to end the first half.
Similar to Flutie’s bomb 27 years ago in Coral Gables, Fla., Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw evaded pressure in the pocket and heaved a soaring long ball to the end zone that saved South Carolina’s shot at a school-record 11th win.
Flutie was a guest speaker at the prestigious bowl’s pregame Fan Fest. It was my second introduction to the current college football analyst after speaking with him at UNCP before an engagement in 2008.
“I played in this stadium back in 1982,” Flutie said. “I don’t have very fond memories of what happened here.”
As a sophomore, Flutie’s Eagles fell to Auburn 33-26 in the Tangerine Bowl. He went on to play quarterback in the CFL and NFL and was awarded pro football’s Comeback Player of the Year award in 1998.
Reach Staff writer Brad Crawford at 910-272-6119 or at firstname.lastname@example.org