ACC to Play Along In Music City Bowl

By Mark Schlabach and Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The ACC yesterday reached an agreement with the Music City Bowl in Nashville to place one of the conference's bowl-eligible teams in the Dec. 30 game against an opponent from the Big Ten.

The ACC also is close to an agreement with the Dec. 29 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco, which would match an ACC team against the Mountain West's No. 2 team, probably Utah. The Emerald Bowl will have an opening if either Arizona State (5-5) or Stanford (5-5) loses this weekend, or if both No. 1 Southern California and No. 8 Oregon receive berths in the Bowl Championships Series. Arizona State will face Arizona on Friday, and Stanford will play No. 6 Notre Dame on Saturday.

The ACC will have at least eight bowl-eligible teams this year, with the winner of Saturday's game between Maryland (5-5) and North Carolina State (5-5) in Raleigh, N.C., becoming the eighth. If North Carolina (5-5) upsets No. 5 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday night, the Tar Heels would become a ninth.

The ACC, which expanded to 12 teams this season with the addition of Boston College, had only six postseason contracts in place this year, so the league needed to find at least two spots in bowl games with at-large openings.

In July, the ACC signed a four-year contract with the Emerald Bowl beginning next season.

The ACC and Music City Bowl also were supposed to start a four-year agreement next year, but Scott Ramsey, the bowl game's executive director, said the two sides agreed to start the contract a year early.

"Hopefully, in the next couple of days, we'll have a formal agreement in place to take one of the ACC teams," Ramsey said. "We're excited to start this process a year early."

The Music City Bowl already has an opening because the Southeastern Conference doesn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to fill its eight contracts.

The ACC also had discussions with the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, but that game will probably invite Fresno State to play the Conference USA champion, either UTEP or Central Florida.

The Music City Bowl, which has a guaranteed payout of $780,000 and can escalate between $900,000 and $1.1 million based on revenue sharing, will probably have the seventh or eighth choice from among ACC teams.

Virginia (6-4), Georgia Tech and the Maryland-N.C. State winner could be in the mix for the Music City Bowl and Emerald Bowl invitations.

The Cavaliers, who lost to Virginia Tech, 52-14, last weekend and who will play at No. 10 Miami on Saturday, played in Boise's MPC Computers Bowl last year and will almost certainly head elsewhere this year. Boise's choice likely will be between Georgia Tech and the Maryland-N.C. State winner, although Boston College could also be available in one scenario. If that happens, Executive Director Gary Beck said the Eagles would "absolutely" be his choice.

Clemson (7-4) probably will head to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, which chooses before the MPC Computers Bowl. If the Tigers are no longer available, Charlotte's choice likely would be either Virginia or the Maryland-N.C. State winner.

The Music City Bowl won't choose its Big Ten participant until the BCS pairings are settled on Dec. 4, when all the bowl question marks should be resolved.

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