The highest player taken in the 2011 NFL draft from among the Chick-fil-A Bowl players figures to be Florida State guard Rodney Hudson, and with good reason.
Hudson will start his 48th and final game Friday night. He was a four-time All-ACC pick, was the ACC's top lineman for the past two seasons and was an Outland Trophy finalist this season as the nation's most outstanding interior lineman.
Offensive line coach Rick Trickett said that a couple of NFL scouts told him that Hudson graded as the most productive lineman in the country.
"If they don't draft this guy, they're nuts," Trickett said.
South Carolina coaches crossed conference lines to get intelligence on FSU. Shane Beamer, a Gamecocks defensive assistant and special-teams coordinator, got help from his father, Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, while assistant head coach Ellis Johnson spoke with a close friend on the Clemson coaching staff. The Seminoles played both teams. Johnson acknowledged that some coaches hesitate to share information about conference teams with coaches outside their league. Not many coaches, of course, are hesitant about accepting it.
Said Shane Beamer, "Blood is thicker than water."
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has been telling players to make sure they're properly hydrated for the game.
"You put 80,000 people in here, it'll get steamy, it'll get humid and that's something you don't think about this time of year because kids haven't been in those conditions [lately]," he said.
The team also did extra conditioning work before coming to Atlanta.
Dye, Woodson honored
Bowl officials will induct two past participants into their Hall of Fame, former Auburn coach Pat Dye and former Purdue defensive back Rod Woodson. Dye coached the Tigers to a 27-23 win over Indiana in 1990, the first of four visits by Auburn. Woodson, an member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, made 19 tackles in Purdue's 27-24 loss to Virginia in 1984. Dye will be inducted before the game. Woodson cannot make it because of responsibilities with NFL Network.
On ticket re-sale website stubhub.com, Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets had the fifth highest total gross sales -- behind the BCS title game, Cotton Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl -- as of Wednesday. The average re-sale price was $113. Face value of tickets is $80 and $100.