The Washington Times - January 3, 2009, 11:12AM

One final edition of picks at the wire to wrap up the ACC football season.

After this set of picks – and a promising 3-1 start – things spiraled on me this week, leading to a 4-6 finish.

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The reason it’s difficult to forecast bowl games is it’s hard to know exactly how each school is approaching matters. Is it serious business or just a week-long trip at the end of the season? Is everyone satisfied with the regular season, or eager to show off in what is essentially a glorified exhibition (albeit one with the possibility of injury)?

That’s why it’s hard to even assess leagues in the postseason. You can look at the ACC and see the No. 2 team lost to the SEC’s No. 6 team, that the nominal No. 3 team fell to what amounted to the Big 12’s No. 6 team, and the nominal No. 5 team (though as a division winner, Boston College was a bit better) get bumped by the SEC’s No. 7 or No. 8 team.

Oops.

At least North Carolina (which got Pat Whited) and N.C. State (which was reminded Russell Wilson was a vastly better quarterback than his backups when he went down around halftime) have legitimate excuses for their close losses.

The assessment of the ACC should remain the same regardless of either the losing postseason record or actually collecting a victory in a BCS game (as Virginia Tech did against Cincinnati).

This was a league with a lot of solid teams, but no one was either imposing or atrocious. Neither Florida State’s rout of mediocre Wisconsin nor Georgia Tech’s no-show at the Georgia Dome against Louisiana State changes it in the slightest.

Another thing that didn’t change: The reality most of the league is getting better. Florida State, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech should all get better next year. Ditto for Duke and N.C. State. North Carolina might get better but not have it reflect in its record. Clemson, as always, is a wild card. I would have included Miami in that group, but who knows how the effects of the Robert Marve saga will linger in Coral Gables.

So that wraps up another enthralling ACC season, an unpredictable journey that led to this bit of predictive work:

Season record: 70-39 (28-20 conference)

Patrick Stevens