USC looks to rebound from a disappointing year with a victory in El Paso.
Preseason No. 1 USC started the year chasing the school’s 12th national championship, to take care of what senior quarterback Matt Barkley called “unfinished business.” But following a two-year postseason ban, the Trojans are not playing for the BCS crystal in Miami — which, ironically, is the city where the man whose transgressions the Men of Troy paid for, Reggie Bush, is currently paid to play football.
How did the 2012 All-ACC team rank as high school prospects?
The merits of recruiting rankings are debated in every sports bar and around every water cooler in the nation. Athlon continues its look at how each all-conference team ranked as high school recruits with the first-team All-ACC team.
Which bowls should you tune into? Athlon ranks and previews all of the matchups from the must-see to the ones you can avoid. Although Alabama and Notre Dame is clearly the biggest bowl game, with 34 other contests, there are plenty of other quality pairings to watch this postseason.
Ranking the 35 Bowl Games: Must-Watch to Must-Miss
Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.
For the first time in the history of the ACC Championship, Florida State and Georgia Tech will meet for the conference title. Despite being separated by less than 300 miles, these two teams are in opposite divisions in the ACC and have not played since a 49-44 shootout in 2009.
Tajh Boyd is Athlon's pick as the ACC Offensive Player of the Year.
Chalk up 2012 as a year to forget for fans of the ACC. Florida State and Clemson were easily the class of the conference, but in-state SEC rivals handled both teams last Saturday. The Coastal had three teams finish at 5-3 in conference play, with Georgia Tech representing the division in Charlotte. With Miami and North Carolina banned from postseason play, the Yellow Jackets at 6-6 are just one win away from a BCS bowl. Maryland showed signs of progress in Randy Edsall’s second year, but quarterback injuries doomed its season.
With Florida State and Georgia Tech set to meet in the ACC Championship next Saturday, Week 13 is all about bowl positioning and getting a few marquee non-conference wins. Florida State, Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech take on SEC opponents, which is a chance for the ACC to get some much-needed national respect. Duke-Miami, Boston College-NC State, Virginia-Virginia Tech and Maryland-North Carolina are the final conference games for 2012.
The Coastal Division was still up for grabs after Saturday's action, but the Atlantic Division title was clinched by Florida State in Week 12. The Seminoles dominated Maryland to claim their second division title under Jimbo Fisher, while Clemson kept its at-large BCS hopes alive with a victory over NC State. Although the action on the field didn't sort out the Coastal, the champion was declared on Monday, as Miami self-imposed a postseason ban, which means Georgia Tech will meet Florida State in Charlotte.
With the season winding down, the Week 12 slate in the ACC could bring some much-needed clarity to the conference title game. If Florida State beats Maryland, the Seminoles would clinch the Atlantic Division title. The Coastal Division is still murky, but Duke and Miami would appear to have the inside track. However, Georgia Tech's late-season surge has it in the mix, while there's still uncertainty on whether or not the Hurricanes will be able to play in any postseason game this year.
Florida State and Clemson are clearly the ACC's best teams but after that is anyone's guess. North Carolina and Miami lost in Week 11, yet don't suffer a drop in the power rankings this week. With Duke on bye and Virginia Tech also losing, it's hard to find a No. 3 team in this week's poll. Virginia has been on the rise over the last two weeks but still needs two victories to get bowl eligible.