Ty Burrell

Ty Burrell could only think of one word to describe Modern Family's 14 Emmy nominations (including one for him): "Incredible."

"What else can you say? I can't believe it. I can and I can't," he tells TVGuide.com. "It's one of those special situations where I feel like every facet of the show was recognized for the quality. There are so many nuts and bolts that go into making a show. To have our direction and editing and casting and all of that be recognized is really thrilling."

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The hit ABC comedy scored five acting nominations — the most of any show — for its main cast. Sofia Vergara and Julie Bowen will face off in the supporting actress race, while Burrell will duke it out with Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. The one glaring omission: Family patriarch Ed O'Neill.

"I think that Ed, obviously, deserves it too, but I think that his omission provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on Ed a little bit," Burrell says. "From the very beginning, Ed set the tone for the rest of us as far as performance and as far as our behavior. We have a lovely set. It's a wonderful place to go to work. Ed set that tone as well. It's very odd for me to look at that list and not see his name, but I think in a weird way, it gives me a chance anyway to really single him out and really celebrate the fact that he really is the heart and soul of our show."

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But without O'Neill, that means less internal competition, right? "I don't know if I can take [both Stonestreet and Ferguson] down," Burrell says. "I hope that they can win in a tie. I wouldn't mind if it was Eric and Jesse in a same-sex Emmy victory."

As for the Modern Family ladies, Burrell is pulling for both Bowen and Vergara. But he's not sure if his lovably clueless Phil Dunphy would be able to choose between his wife and his crush. "I would say that Phil's heart is with Claire," he says. "Like a fish that sees a lure or a dog, for a moment, he might pull for Sofia — but it's just fleeting."