E.J. Manuel can win a fourth bowl game he's taken the majority of snaps, in the ACC's top spot, Miami (pic per OrangeandWhite.com).
Orange (Miami, Fla.): No. 12 Florida State (11-2) v. No. 16 Northern Illinois (12-1), Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Why To Watch: Well, it’s the last ACC football of the season, and FSU is prone to making games that aren’t supposed to be interesting – interesting.
Who To Watch (Huskies): QB Jordan Lynch – Quarterback Jordan Lynch enters No. 4 in the nation in rushing (1,771 yards/136.2 YPG), and also in the top-25 in pass efficiency (152.9) with almost 3,000 yards passing and 43 total touchdowns.
Stat Advantage for FSU: Passing defense v. Northern Illinois’ pass attack – Lynch is a solid passer, with a middle-of-the-road 60th-best pass offense, but faces the No. 3 pass ‘D’ in the ‘Noles (160.8 YPG).
Stat Advantage for Northern Illinois: Turnover margin – NIU ranks in the top-30, while FSU is 96th.
What Happens: FSU is nearly a two-touchdown favorite, and the Seminoles’ senior class is going for a fourth-straight bowl win. NIU has been impressive, reeling off 12-straight wins, at almost 24 points per in scoring margin, and the trip to sunny south Florida is their fifth-straight bowl. If the ‘Noles are focused, they should pull away, but the Huskies aren’t going to lay down easily.
The Picks: Brandon Rink – FSU 31-20; Griffin Wong – FSU 31-14; J.J. Greenstein – FSU 31-21; W. Gustin Vandiford – FSU 44-17.
Getting Sammy Watkins loose in the LSU secondary is the key to Clemson and the ACC bringing home a top-10 win in Atlanta (pic per OrangeandWhite.com).
Chick-fil-A (Atlanta, Ga.: No. 14 Clemson (10-2) v. No. 9 LSU (10-2), Dec. 31, 7:30 ET
Why To Watch: ACC v. SEC. Death Valley v. Death Valley. Tigers v. Tigers. The only top-15 matchup in the ACC bowl season.
Who To Watch (Bayou Bengals): RB Jeremy Hill – After a midseason loss to Florida, the true frosh Hill took over the crowded LSU backfield, averaging 19.5 carries a game for 93.3 yards with eight touchdowns.
Stat Advantage for Clemson: Passing offense v. LSU’s pass D – The ACC Tigers are 13th nationally in passing offense, armed with Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and Nuk Hopkins, and face a Bayou Bengals defense that’s given up 326.3 yards per passing in their last three contests.
Stat Advantage for LSU: Rush defense v. Clemson’s rush O – LSU has held half its opponents under 100 rushing yards, ranking ninth nationally.
What Happens: Be physical, or as Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said this week – “pound you into oblivion” – is what the Bayou Bengals aim to do on both sides of the ball, with menacing athletes all over. This is the litmus test for the ACC Tigers’ program at this point – they hung with a solid FSU on the road, but were dominated in their own house by South Carolina. The spotlights in Atlanta will be on Clemson’s lines, getting pressure and holding it off to contain LSU. It goes down to the wire, but the Bayou Bengals are able to make one more play.
A bunch more on the game here on OrangeandWhite.com.
The Picks: Brandon Rink – LSU 27-24; Griffin Wong – LSU 24-17; J.J. Greenstein – LSU 41-28; W. Gustin Vandiford – LSU 27-9.
No. 1 Duke 90, Santa Clara 77
The nation’s top team trailed early in the second half but a 26-5 run led by Seth Curry, who finished with 31 points, allowed the Blue Devils (12-0) to win going away against a physical Santa Clara (11-3) team. Early national Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee added 22 points and 13 rebounds for Duke, who recorded heir 101st straight nonconference win at home. Guard Quinn Cook (15) and forward Ryan Kelly (10) also scored in double-figures for the undefeated Blue Devils.
No. 23 NC State 84, Western Michigan 68
Five players scored in double-figures for the Wolfpack (10-2) as they pulled away from Western Michigan (8-5) in the second half to record their sixth straight win. The big men, CJ Leslie and Richard Howell dominated for State up front. Leslie led the Pack with 19 points and seven rebounds while Howell added 18 points (on 8-8 from the floor) and nine rebounds. TJ Warren (15), Scott Wood (11), and Lorenzo Brown (10) rounded out the scoring for State, who has won eight straight home games, a streak dating back to last season.
Maryland 79, Delaware State 50
Freshman Charles Mitchell recorded a career-high 19 points off the bench to lead Maryland (11-1) over Delaware State (5-8) at home for their 11th straight win- the longest such streak for the program in ten years. Transfer Dez Wells and freshman Seth Allen each scored ten points for the Terps, as Allen added 14 rebounds for the game’s only double-double performance.
Boston College 70, Holy Cross 60
Patrick Heckman led all scorers with 19 as Boston College (7-5) downed Holy Cross (7-6) at home. Forward Ryan Anderson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Olivier Hanlan scored 14 points to round out the Eagles in double-figures. Boston College only received two points off the bench, playing just seven players in the victory.
North Carolina 79, No. 20 UNLV 73
North Carolina (10-3) got their most impressive of the season as the took down No. 20 UNLV (11-2) at home 79-73. Dexter Strickland led five Tar Heels in double-figures with 16 points. Guard P.J. Hairston (15), forward James Michael McAdoo (13), Brice Johnson (12), and Marcus Paige (12) rounded out the scoring leaders for the Heels, who played without Reggie Bullock because of a concussion suffered earlier in the week.
Florida State 82, Tulsa 63
Metro PCS Orange Bowl Classic at Sunrise, Florida
Guard Michael Snaer led four Seminoles (8-4) in double-figure scoring with 19 points in a win over Tulsa (7-6). 12 of the 13 Seminoles to see the floor scored, as Terrance Shannon (16), Okaro White (12), and freshman Devon Bookert (10) rounded out the scoring for Florida State.
BYU 97, Virginia Tech 71
At Salt Lake City
Guard Tyler Haws’ 42 points led the Cougars (10-4) over Virginia Tech (9-4) in Salt Lake City. Three Hokies, led by forward Jarell Eddy’s 17, scored in double-figures. Guards Robert Brown (13) and Erick Green (12) rounded out the scoring for Tech, who was over-matched from the start.
Coming up at 7pm, Fordham at Georgia Tech