Sunday, December 4, 2016

Clemson’s College Football Playoff Spot Leads ACC Bowl Lineup, Belk Bowl to Host Virginia Tech

GREENSBORO, N.C. ( – Clemson’s return trip to the College Football Playoff highlights a Sunday in which 11 of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 14 football members secured spots in 2016 postseason bowl games.

The ACC champion Tigers (12-1) are seeded No. 2 in the CFP field and will face No. 3 seed Ohio State (11-1) in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at 7 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve in the second of two national semifinal games. If the Tigers advance, they will face No. 1 Alabama or No. 4 Washington for the College Football Playoff National Championship at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, January 9, at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium (ESPN).

The ACC, which tied a league record by landing 11 teams in postseason play for the third time in four years, owns a total of 42 bowl berths over the past four seasons. This marks the 16th consecutive year that at least six ACC teams received postseason berths. The ACC ranks second among all conferences with 106 total bowl bids since 2005.

With Clemson’s selection, the ACC has placed a team in the College Football Playoff in each of its first three years of existence. The Tigers earned the No. 1 seed last season, and Florida State was seeded No. 3 as the ACC champion in 2014. The ACC is one of just two conferences that has placed a team in the College Football Playoff or the BCS Championship in each of the last four years.
A pair of ACC schools will continue the two longest current Division I bowl streaks in the nation, as Florida State (35th straight year) and Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech (24th straight) confirmed their postseason destinations. Virginia Tech’s bowl game streak is the longest active streak recognized by the NCAA.

Boston College, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Pitt and Wake Forest are also bound for holiday bowl games. ACC teams will head into bowl competition with 42 victories against nonconference opposition this season – four wins shy of the league record of 46. The ACC’s eight teams with at least eight wins this season are the most of any conference.

Clemson is bidding for the program’s first national title since 1981 and the second by an ACC team in the last four seasons. The Tigers have won four of their last five postseason games and take a 20-19 all-time postseason record into their meeting with Ohio State. The Tigers and Buckeyes last met in in the 2013 Orange Bowl, with Clemson posting a 40-35 win. The only other meeting between the teams came in the 1978 Gator Bowl, where the Tigers posted a 17-15 win.

No. 11 Florida State (9-3) will face No. 6 Michigan (10-2) in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m. (ESPN).  The Seminoles own a 27-16-2 all-time record in bowl games, a winning percentage of .622 that ranks fifth among all schools that have played 15 or more postseason games. This year’s berth is Florida State’s fifth straight in a BCS/New Year’s Six bowl, which ties defending national champion Alabama for the longest such streak in the nation.

Since 2012, the ACC has posted a 5-3 record in the New Year’s Six Bowls and College Football Playoff Games – the best among peer conferences.

The ACC has won four consecutive Orange Bowl games, and is the first conference in 57 years to do so since the Big Eight Conference won four straight from 1956-59.

Two ACC teams are bound for Orlando, Florida, this postseason as Louisville landed a spot in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, and Miami is headed to the Russell Athletic Bowl.

No. 13 Louisville (9-3), which will face No. 20 LSU (7-4) on Dec. 31 (11 a.m., ABC), will be making the first appearance by an ACC team in the Citrus Bowl since Clemson on Jan. 1, 1992. The Cardinals will make their third bowl appearance in as many years as an ACC member and their seventh straight overall. Louisville, which will play in a bowl game for the 21st time, owns a 10-9-1 all-time record in previous appearances.

Miami (8-4) makes its third bowl appearance in Orlando since 2009 and its 40th bowl appearance overall when it faces No. 16 West Virginia (10-2) on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN). The Hurricanes own a 19-20 all-time record in previous bowl game appearances.

No. 23 Pitt (8-4) heads to the Bronx for a Dec. 28 meeting with Northwestern (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium (2 p.m., ESPN). The Panthers, who own a 13-19 all-time record in bowl games, are making their ninth straight postseason appearance.

No. 22 Virginia Tech (9-4) will play in the Belk Bowl at Charlotte, North Carolina, for the first time when it faces Arkansas (7-5) on the evening of Dec. 29 (5:30 p.m., ESPN). The Hokies, under first-year head coach Justin Fuente, are 13-17 all-time in bowl games and are seeking their third straight win in postseason play.

North Carolina, 14-18 in 32 previous bowl appearances, will play in a postseason game for the eighth time in nine years and for the fourth straight year under head coach Larry Fedora when the Tar Heels (8-4) meet No. 18 Stanford (9-3) in the Hyundi Sun Bowl in El Paso on Friday Dec. 30 (2 p.m., CBS). The UNC has played in three previous Sun Bowls – most recently versus Texas in 1994 – and owns an all-time record of 1-2 in the event.

Georgia Tech (8-4) has accepted an invitation to participate in the 72nd-annual TaxSlayer Bowl, where it will face Kentucky (7-5) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Yellow Jackets are 24-19 in all-time bowl appearances. This year’s TaxSlayer Bowl will be shown nationally by ESPN. 

Also representing the ACC will be Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl, NC State in the Camping World Independence Bowl, and Wake Forest in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman.

Boston College will be the first ACC team to kick off a bowl game when it meets Maryland (6-6) at Detroit’s Ford Field on Monday, Dec. 26 at 2:30 p.m. (ESPN). The Eagles, who are 13-11 all-time in bowl games, will be going after their first postseason win since 2007.

NC State (6-6) is set to meet Vanderbilt (6-6) at Shreveport, Louisiana on Dec. 26 at 5 p.m. (ESPN2). The Wolfpack stands 15-13-1 all-time in bowl games and will take part in postseason play for the third straight year under fourth-year head coach Dave Doeren.

Wake Forest, 6-4 all-time in bowl games, makes its first postseason appearance since 2011 when it faces American Athletic Conference champion and 24th-ranked Temple (10-3) at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium on the afternoon of Dec. 27 (3:30 p.m., ESPN).

All starting times listed for upcoming bowl games involving ACC teams are Eastern.