It has been a while since the ACC received much respect around the country for its football programs. That's not surprising. The league hadn't won a BCS bowl since 2009.
But give the league credit. It had a pretty good week. That began with Georgia Tech, which throttled USC in the Sun Bowl on Monday 21-7. Later that evening, Clemson stunned No. ?8 LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to cap a fine 11-2 season. That one took a last-second drive and field goal to win it, but it was a huge step forward for the Tigers. And Florida State finished things off decisively in the Orange Bowl with a 31-10 thrashing of Northern Illinois.
Put an asterisk by that one, if you would like. The Huskies, after all, are a Mid-American Conference team that many critics said didn't deserve a BCS bid. But the Seminoles have enough returning talent to be considered a legitimate BCS title contender next season. Add in Louisville's shocking win over No. 3 Florida on Wednesday -- the Cardinals could join the ACC as soon as next year -- and you have a league on the rise.
- Brian McNally