The 2012 ACC Championship Game didn't have much hype compared to the rest of the conference-deciding ones across the country, despite a BCS bowl game up for grabs along the East Coast.
Thanks to Florida State and Georgia Tech, those theories were dispelled on Saturday night.
Florida State held on for a 21-15 win, and with it a spot in the Orange Bowl. The Seminoles used a balanced attack and hit Georgia Tech with some of its own medicine, running the speed option to perfection to pick up yardage on crucial downs.
The spirit just wasn't there early on in this game, even with the ACC championship and a BCS berth on the line. From ESPN commentators Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit to the fans in the stadium, there wasn't enough energy or on-the-field excitement to match the level of qualification the game entailed.
That all changed midway through the fourth quarter, when Georgia Tech used three Florida State second-half turnovers to mount a comeback.
The Yellow Jackets cut the score to 21-15 with less than seven minutes to play. But Florida State defensive back Karlos Williams intercepted Tevin Washington's pass with a minute to play, and the Seminoles will finish the regular season as the ACC champion.
EJ Manuel finished with 134 yards and an interception for the 'Noles, while Washington had 96 yards of total offense and accounted for his team's only touchdown, but he couldn't capitalize on the final drive to upset the No. 13 team in the country.
Both teams had over 180 yards on the ground in an epic display of using the option effectively.
We'll get things rolling on the Twitter reaction portion with ESPN's Stats & Information, which outlined bad news for the Yellow Jackets even before kickoff:
Here's a little bit of sarcasm from Macon Telegraph reporter Joe Kovac Jr., who wasn't a proponent of Georgia Tech making this a game, even from the start:
Meanwhile, Georgia Tech is giving FSU all it's got. It's 0-0, a minute into the game.— Joe Kovac Jr. (@joekovacjr) December 2, 2012
We all know that the option offense is alive and well with coach Paul Johnson. However, as ACC reporter Riley Skinner noted, the Noles were actually using Georgia Tech's plays against them:
Person that fell from concourse outside BofA has been transported to CMC trauma center with life-threatening injuries.— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) December 2, 2012
Vad Lee came in during the first half to get the Yellow Jackets going. He helped create the first three points for Georgia Tech, and the freshman caught the eye of the conference's official athletics account:
And THAT'S why you play Vad Lee. Long pass complete for 42 yards to Waller. ball on FSU 23. #ACCFCG— ACC Sports (@ACCSports) December 2, 2012
Larry Williams of Rivals had an interesting take on the atmosphere, at least until the game was in question in the fourth quarter:
ACC championship feels like one of those high school jamborees after watching SEC championship.— Larry Williams (@LarryWilliamsTI) December 2, 2012
Sean Tuohy Jr., son of his namesake (from the movie The Blind Side), obviously isn't a fan of the ACC, even with Georgia Tech making a stand:
All 43 people at the ACC championship are going wild.— Sean Tuohy Jr. (@SJTuohy) December 2, 2012
South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney had the funniest tweet of the night—he, too, isn't impressed with anything about the conference that plays host to his team's fiercest rival:
A soda inside the acc championship game costs more than a ticket.— Jadeveon Clowny (@JadeveonClowny) December 2, 2012
Player of the Game: Karlos Williams, DB, Florida State
Karlos Williams didn't have a huge game, but he made the penultimate play of the game and saved his team from an upset.
He stepped in front of Washington's pass with Georgia Tech driving, a touchdown away from taking the lead, and took it all the way down the to the 5-yard line before Manuel took three knees to finish the game.
Defense has been Florida State's calling card all season, and it was yet again on Saturday night. Florida State has used defense to garner a top ranking and will need it again in the Orange Bowl. The defense as a whole may have held the opposing offense to 15 points, but Williams made the biggest play of the night.
The Seminoles await the BCS standings to find out their opponent. It's looking more and more like Northern Illinois, but Boise State could also stake its claim. Still, it's a good night in Florida, as two big schools are both going big-boy bowling.
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