Here is an article I’m going to do each year following football season, so some of the games reviewed will be repeats of the year before. The reason I start in 2010, is because I want to highlight the resurgence of the ACC that started during the current decade.
1. #1 Florida State 34 #2 Auburn 31 – January 6, 2014
What else but this game could be number 1? It will end up being the most historically significant National Championship of the next 10 years. This Seminole team was the SEC National Championship streak stopper that ended at 7. It also marked the end of SEC’s complete dominance over college football, and gave the ACC it’s first national championship in football in over a decade. This Florida State team was a transcendent group, that achieved greatness.
2. #15 Clemson 25 #9 LSU 24 – December 31, 2012
If any game marked the beginning of the ACC being able to compete with the elite of college football it was this one. At the time the SEC appeared heads and shoulders appeared above the rest of college football. Clemson defeated a LSU team that was a handful of plays from the national title game. The game also proved Clemson had the potential to be a college football power. Since that game, Clemson established itself as one of the better college football programs in the country.
3. #1 Clemson 37 #4 Oklahoma 17 – December 31, 2015
It was a bit surprising that coming into this Orange Bowl National Semi-Final game, that 13-0 Clemson was an underdog to Oklahoma. Those of us that followed Clemson, knew the Tigers were very good, but after this thrashing of the Sooners the rest of the country knew too. The win propelled the Tigers into the National Title Game against Alabama, and gave the ACC it’s second National Title participant in 3 years. Clemson is no longer considered just a good program, they are now considered an elite program just behind Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State.
4. #12 Georgia Tech 49 #7 Mississippi St. 34 – December 31, 2014
This games was significant in so many ways. It proved Paul Johnson’s Triple Option could succeed even if the opponent had weeks to prepare, and it lifted Georgia Tech to a top 10 finish in the 2014 season. The win was part of a series of SEC West losses where each ranked SEC West team lost it’s bowl game proving the best football teams in the country could now play and defeat the best teams the SEC had to offer. It also proved the ACC in a given year could be deeper than Florida State and Clemson.
5. #12 Clemson 40 #7 Ohio State 35 – January 3, 2014
Clemson showed with this win, that they were here to stay as a football power. Along with FSU’s national championship win, it gave the ACC a 2-0 BCS record in 2013. The 2-13 BCS record of the ACC was a distant memory. Urban Meyer has only lost 4 games in 3 years at Ohio State, and this was one of them. You’ll see the second one on this list as well. Clemson used this win to finish 2013 in the top 10.
6. #16 Georgia Tech 30 #9 Georgia 24 – November 29, 2014
Georgia entered this week as a darkhorse to make the college football playoff. Missouri’s winning the SEC East effectively ended the Bulldogs playoff chances, but you can see how well UGA was regarded. Georgia Tech hadn’t beat Georgia since 2008, but this win gave the Yellow Jackets a chance at a truly great season. Add in the fact the ACC went 4-0 against the SEC in rivalry games, with this being the crowning jewel of that weekend.
7. Virginia Tech 35 #8 Ohio State 21 – September 6, 2014
Ohio State lost one game in 2014 on their way to the National Title and it was at home to the Virginia Tech Hokies. This game is a little lower on the list because Virginia Tech couldn’t use it to propel itself to a great season. It was more of a singular event than some of the other games. That said we were again able to see the genius of Bud Foster as a defensive coordinator. Foster called a masterpiece of a game, and Buckeyes had no answer. This result very nearly kept Ohio State out of the college football playoff.
8. #8 Clemson 38 #5 Georgia 35 – August 31, 2013
Georgia entered this game as a pre-season national title contender. Clemson was coming off the Chick Fil A Bowl win over LSU that we’ve already mentioned. The Tigers won this game, and around the country people knew the Tigers were building something. The win helped the Tigers eventually get to #3 in the country setting up one of the most anticipated ACC games ever when they faced fellow top 5 team Florida State. It was the first time a non-SEC team had beat back to back top 10 SEC teams.
9. #2 Florida State 31 #5 Notre Dame 27 – October 19, 2014
Notre Dame’s last season swoon takes a little luster off this battle, but at the time it was one of the biggest games of the 2014 season. It turned out to be the 2nd highest rated college football game of the regular season, and kept Florida State in the thick of the national title chase. It was a tremendous game that wasn’t decided until the final seconds, as the entire nation watched.
10. #12 Clemson 24 #6 Notre Dame – October 3, 2015
This game laid the groundwork for Clemson’s 2015 National Title appearance run. This game had it all – National TV, Prime-Time, Gameday and an epic game. It was the BYOG (Bring Your Own Guts) game as Dabo Swinney called it. Again the Irish slipped down the stretch losing their final 2 games, but without this high-profile win Clemson probably doesn’t make the college football playoffs. It was another eventual ACC Title winner that played a classic into the final seconds with Notre Dame.