|James Wilder, Jr. earned MVP honors in the ACC Championship Game with 69 yards rushing and two touchdowns. (US Presswire)|
FLORIDA STATE WON. Florida State safety Karlos Williams jumped a pass from Tevin Washington in the final minute of the ACC Championship Game, finally stopping a late push from the Yellow Jackets and locking up a 13th ACC Championship for the Seminoles. Florida State, previously the perennial favorites in the league, claimed their first title since 2005 with the win, and will head to the Orange Bowl to face an at-large opponent on Jan. 1.
HOW FLORIDA STATE WON: Georgia Tech and Florida State have the ACC's top two rushing offenses, so you knew that both teams would be leaning heavily on the ground attack. Both teams were successful moving the ball in the middle of the field during the first half, but only Florida State was able to get into the end zone. With a 21-3 halftime lead, it appeared as though Florida State would continue to ground and pound their way to their first ACC Championship under coach Jimbo Fisher.
Georgia Tech answered the call in the second half, forcing turnovers on defense and finding a weakness in Florida State's normally dominant defense. The Seminoles' team speed allowed them to shut down the option runs on the edge, but the Yellow Jackets found much more success running the dive play up the middle with Washington or David Sims. Combine that with a few long passing plays to keep the defense honest, and Georgia Tech actually displayed some offensive balance -- normally not a word you hear associated with Paul Johnson's offense.
WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON: Despite the balance that Georgia Tech's offense created in the second half, the circumstances of Georgia Tech's final drive prevented the Yellow Jackets from pulling off a game-winning drive in the final minute. Jemea Thomas picked off EJ Manuel at the 15 yard line, and Washington took over with 85 yards between him and an Orange Bowl. The senior quarterback delivered a few big throws in the comeback, but the Seminoles were able to sit back in zone coverage and force Washington to make perfect throws. Karlos Williams -- who led the Florida State defense with 11 tackles -- made an incredibly athletic play to jump the route and seal the win.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON: As much talk as there has been about whether or not Florida State is "back," the Seminoles still had not been "back" to the ACC podium in seven years. Rip away the storylines of the 2012 season, and you have an 11-win Florida State team carried by one of the nation's best defenses. Most importantly, a Seminoles squad that earned an ACC Championship and will be competing for a BCS bowl win -- something that has not been done since the national championship season in 1999.
WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: A lot of credit goes to Georgia Tech for stepping up on defense in the second half. The Yellow Jackets fired defensive coordinator Al Groh midseason, and gave up 40+ points six times this season. But between forcing turnovers and stopping the Seminoles on third down, the defense allowed Tevin Washington and David Sims to get in a rhythm exploiting the middle of the field. There was some debate as to whether the 6-7 Yellow Jackets would deserve a spot in the postseason, but after Saturday night's performance the team at least showed they can rise to the occasion against a heavily-favored opponent.
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