College football: Wake Forest has to save face for ACC

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 29, 2006

By Joedy McCreary

Associated Press

DAVIE, Fla. — Kenneth Moore understands that many people think Wake Forest took advantage of a down year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Beating No. 5 Louisville in the Orange Bowl would do plenty to save the ACC’s face.

“People look at Wake Forest like it’s a Cinderella year, the ACC is weak and Wake Forest is at the top,” the running back said Friday. “It’s a lot of pressure proving that we are a good team and this is not just like the ACC’s weak, but Wake Forest is a good team and came to play every game. We have to prove the ACC is still strong.”

The 15th-ranked Demon Deacons have plenty to play for. Not only do they want to cap their worst-to-first season with a landmark victory, they also want to give their much-maligned conference a rare victory in a Bowl Championship Series game.

The ACC is just 1-7 in the major bowl games since the BCS was created in 1998 — easily the worst record of any conference with an automatic BCS berth. The conference is winless in four straight Orange Bowls and hasn’t won it in more than a decade.

The ACC’s only BCS victory came after the 1999 season when Florida State beat Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. The Seminoles also were the last conference team to win the Orange Bowl when they beat Notre Dame in January 1996.

The team picked in the preseason to place last in the Atlantic Division wound up winning the league, yet isn’t even the ACC’s highest-ranked team — the Demon Deacons (11-2) are one spot behind No. 14 Virginia Tech.

They’re also starting to feel the pressure that comes with thinking they have to save the league.

“We were predicted to finish last, and the fact that we finished out on top, now we’ve got to represent the whole conference, we can’t let the conference down and we can’t let the school down,” linebacker Aaron Curry said. “We’re going to go ahead and try to prove a point about the ACC.”

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