The ACC’s 10 best football teams since the ACC expanded in 2004.


Since the ACC expanded for primarily football purposes in 2004, I thought it would be interesting to list the top 10 football teams the ACC produced since that time. Here goes… Agree? Disagree?

1) 2013 – #1 Florida State 14-0 (8-0) 

I don’t think there is any doubt about who would be number one on this list. The 2013 Florida State team won the national title. QB Jameis Winston won the Heisman Trophy and was the nation’s best player.

The Seminoles outscored their opponents by an astonishing average score of 51-12. This Florida State team stopped the SEC’s streak of 7 straight National Titles. As we’ve said before on this blog, this was a transcendent team, that will be remembered for a very long time.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.


2) 2014 – #5 Florida State 13-1 (8-0)

This Florida State team was unfairly compared to the preceding 2013 Florida State one that was historically great. The fact is the 2014 Seminoles were pretty darned good. They beat 6 teams that won their bowls, and had wins over Georgia Tech and Clemson. Two teams that finished the year in the top 15. Clemson had the nation’s number 1 defense, and Florida State beat them with their backup quarterback.

While rarely looking brilliant, this team just knew how to win. They won their first 13 games before finally succumbing to the Oregon Ducks in the National Semi-Finals.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

It would have been a very close game with the 2013 Clemson Tigers, but those Tigers weren’t the elite defensive unit the 2014 group was and from to time to time struggled to stop better offensive units. I believe the 2014 FSU beats the 2013 Clemson in a high scoring affair.

3) 2013 – #8 Clemson 11-2 (7-1)

This Clemson team had the misfortune of facing one of the great teams of the last quarter century – the 2013 Florida State Seminoles. When they played the Seminoles beat the Tigers 51-14, but make no mistake this was an excellent team that won every other ACC game they played by double digits.

They beat a Georgia team that started the year in the top 5 38-35, and completed the season by winning the Orange Bowl over #7 Ohio State. This team featured elite playmakers like Sammy Watkins at WR, and record setting quarterback Tajh Boyd. The Tigers only other loss was to a South Carolina team that finished the season ranked #4.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

That Clemson offense versus the 2005 Virginia Tech Defense that was one of the nation’s best? Oh this would have been a fun game, but that Hokie defense struggled against some of the speedier offenses on their schedule like Florida State and Miami that year. Sammy Watkins would have been tough for them to handle.

4) 2005 – #7 Virginia Tech 11-2 (7-1)

This team was so close to being truly great. They started the year 8-0 and got ranked as high as number 3, before losing to Miami 27-7. They led the nation in total defense, and didn’t lose to a team that finished outside the top 25.

Of the 4 teams ranked at the time they played them, they won 3 of them by double digits. This team beat #16 Louisville in the Gator Bowl.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

The 2005 Virginia Tech Hokies had a bit higher ceiling than the 2004 version. They were slightly better defensively, and were more explosive on offense.

5) 2004 – #10 Virginia Tech 10-3 (7-1)

This Virginia Tech team held 10 of the 13 teams they played to under 17 points. This was a vintage Bud Foster defense that was imposing and physical. They  won the ACC that year, and lost by just 3 points to the undefeated Auburn Tigers in the Sugar Bowl.

Two of their losses were to teams that finished #1 and #2 at the end of the year. That was USC and Auburn.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

I gave the 2004 Hokies the nod over the 2014 Georgia Tech team, because the Hokies had tremendous defensive talent that could have at least disrupted Georgia Tech’s Triple Option. That said the real difference is I don’t think the Jackets could have contained Hokie QB Bryan Randall.

6) 2014 – #8 Georgia Tech 11-3 (6-2)

By the end of the 2014 season, this Georgia Tech team was rolling. They finished the season going 3-1 against teams that finished in the top 15. That included a road win at top 10 Georgia and an Orange Bowl bowl win over a then top 10 Mississippi State.  Justin Thomas is the best option quarterback Paul Johnson has ever had, and it’s offense for most of the year was nearly unstoppable.

Defensively the Jackets weren’t great, but they could create turnovers.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

The 2012 Florida State team barely beat a 7 loss Georgia Tech team in the ACC Championship. The 2014 Yellow Jackets were light years better.  The 2014 Noles needed a near perfect game from QB Jameis Winston to beat Georgia Tech this year. It was a performance I don’t think EJ Manuel could duplicate.

7) 2012 – #10 Florida State 12-2 (7-1)

This Florida State team won the ACC’s first BCS game since 2009 when they were victorious in that year’s Orange Bowl. They won the ACC, and were the foundation of the great 2013 team. The 2012 Seminoles got ranked as high as #3, before a loss to NC State derailed their national title hopes. As we said QB EJ Manuel wasn’t in the class of Jamies Winston, but this was still a first round draft pick.

These Seminoles featured the number 2 defense in the country in 2012.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

Well they played the 2012 Clemson Tigers and FSU won 49-37

8) 2012 – #11 Clemson 11-2 (7-1)

This Clemson team had so much talent on the offensive side of the ball, RB Andre Ellington, WR DeAndre Hopkins, QB Tajh Boyd, and a Sophomore WR named Sammy Watkins. The 2012 Tigers went 10 straight games scoring more than 35 points.

They ended the season beating a top 10 LSU team in the Chick Fil A bowl in one of the ACC’s biggest bowl wins in recent years. Defensively this team had some issues, and that holds their ranking down, but that offensive was excellent.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

The 2009 Virginia Tech had a strong defense and good team, but they weren’t as good the LSU one that the Tigers defeated.

9) 2009 – #10 Virginia Tech 10-3 (7-1)

The 2009 Virginia Tech Hokies played a daunting schedule, and still found a way to 10 games and an ACC Title. They opened the year with a respectable 10 point loss to eventual national champion Alabama. They went on the road and beat a Nebraska team than won 10 games. Tyrod Taylor was a nightmare to deal with at QB.

This team blew their last 5 opponents away including a 37-14 Chick Fil A Bowl win over Tennessee. Their closest game in that time span was 13 points.

Why they are better than the next team on the list.

I liked Junior Tyrod Taylor better at QB than the 2007 Hokies that had with Sean Glennon or Freshman Tyrod Taylor.

10) 2007 – #9 Virginia Tech 11-3 (7-1)

The 2007 Hokies suffered a 48-7 loss at LSU, but still won the ACC that year defeating a Matt Ryan led Boston College team. By the way that Boston College team just missed this list. The Hokies won all but 1 of their ACC games by double digits.

They lost the 2007 Orange Bowl 24-21 to arguably the best Kansas football team in that school’s history. The Jayhawks went 12-1 and finished number 7 in the country.

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  1. Hokie Mark says:

    Nice list. VT kept popping up, huh?

  2. Jfann says:

    Definitely… The Hokies were the class of the ACC for nearly a decade.

  3. Spencer says:

    Dwayne Allen wasn’t on the 2012 Clemson team. He left for the NFL after the previous season. Sammy Watkins was a sophomore in 2012

    1. Jfann says:

      You are correct sir… I have fixed this. Thanks!

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