The ACC’s 2012-13 bowl season was, by all accounts, a complete success. Despite the fact that the conference only sent six teams to bowl games, four of those teams were able to win. The successful ACC postseason was capped on Tuesday night as Florida State defeated Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl. It was only the third BCS win by an ACC team during the BCS era.
Two teams let the conference down a bit, but one more then another. Duke should have won the Belk Bowl, they played well enough to, but few people picked the Blue Devils to beat Cincinnati in Charlotte. North Carolina State was the conference’s biggest disappointment this postseason. The Wolfpack outplayed Vanderbilt in the Music City Bowl but committed five turnovers and lost the game.
While Duke and NC State lost, the rest of the conference broke through, and many of the wins were upsets. In fact, outside of the Orange Bowl, the other three ACC teams that won were considered the underdogs. It started in the Russell Athletic Bowl where Virginia Tech upset Rutgers in overtime. The game was one of the ugliest during this bowl season, but in the end the Hokies were able to pull out the victory.
The Hokies led the way, but the victories that followed trumped Virginia Tech’s contribution to conference morale. Georgia Tech surprisingly beat Southern California in the Sun Bowl, but Clemson wasn’t to be outdone. Later that day, the Tigers upset LSU in the Chic-fil-A Bowl, giving the ACC a very respectable win over the SEC. This brings us back to the Orange Bowl.
Florida State dominated NIU, winning by a final score of 31-10. NIU attempted to steal away the Seminoles momentum a couple of different times in the game with a successful fake punt and a successful onside kick. However, it wasn’t enough to topple FSU; it wasn’t even close. The Orange Bowl was the game that really mattered. Had the Seminoles laid an egg and been upset by NIU then those wins by Georgia Tech and Clemson would have meant nothing.
The postseason teams from the ACC won the game they were supposed to and some they weren’t. The ACC’s football season is now officially over, and while it may have been a bumpy road at times, it ended up bringing a little more respect to the conference and some hope for the future.