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Jan
07
2014

Florida State’s National Title caps satisfying past 13 months for ACC Football.

FSU_Jones

Roughly 13 months ago, ACC football was at true low point. Florida State and Clemson appeared to be making strides, but back in November of 2012, they both lost at home by double digits to their in-state rivals Florida and South Carolina. Vanderbilt and Georgia beat Wake Forest and Georgia Tech by more than 30 points each. Heck that summer in2012 many openly questioned should the ACC even be included in a future playoff system, or be treated as a glorified mid-major. While that wasn’t likely, it illustrated just how little respect ACC Football had nationally. The 2-13 BCS record didn’t help.

For a fan of any ACC school, it was hard to convince people in the rest of the country that progress was slowly being made by some of the ACC football programs. The results just weren’t there in large part, but a funny thing happened on the way to the ACC being a football afterthought, the ACC started winning notable games out of conference. During the 2012 bowl season, the ACC went 4-2. It’s first winning bowl season since 2005. Florida State won the Orange Bowl. Clemson beat a top 10 LSU team, Virginia Tech beat Rutgers and Georgia Tech had the stunner over the USC Trojans. The ACC won it’s top 4 bowls for the first time in the BCS era. One positive bowl season doesn’t change many perceptions, but hey you have to start somewhere…

Early in the 2013 season there were OOC wins by Clemson and Miami against at the time top 15 SEC schools Georgia and Florida. Those wins propelled Clemson and Miami into the top 10, which set the stage for Florida State. Never mind that Miami was in particular ranked too highly, FSU took advantage beat both and positioned themselves to play for a national title.

Finally the ACC had a team in the national title game. Clemson was in the Orange Bowl, and eleven ACC teams made a bowl game. Prior to the bowl games, the ACC nearly made a clean sweep of every major individual college football award.

Heisman Trophy – Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Walter Camp Award – Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Davey O’Brien – Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Doak Walker – Boston College’s Andre Williams

Bednarik – Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald

Outland – Pittsburgh’s Aaron Dondal

Lou Groza – Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo 

What in the name of Bobby Bowden was going on? This was the ACC for goodness sakes a basketball conference. Surely come bowl season where the ACC was an underdog in 9 of the 11 games they would  lose most of if not all of their bowl games.  That didn’t happen either, as new members Pittsburgh and Syracuse won their games. North Carolina won too. Duke gained a measure of respect by nearly beat Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M. The Blue Devils even finished this season in the top 25. It wasn’t all perfect as the ACC lost 6 bowls games, but who’s counting Maryland anymore anyways.

Here’s where Clemson and most significantly Florida State capped the bowl season. Clemson beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl, and Florida State defeated Auburn in the national title game.

The ACC over the past two years went a very respectable 9-8 in their bowl games, and here’s the stunner. They went a nation’s best 3-0 in BCS games. For comparison the SEC went 1-3 the last two years in BCS games, and the Big 10 went 4-10 in their bowl games.

Am I arguing that the ACC is an elite football conference. No… There no question the ACC still trails top to bottom the Pac 12 and SEC, but is the ACC now a football conference to take notice of and pay attention to? With Florida State leading the way you bet.

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