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Jun
11
2016

Ranking recent ACC Football Accomplishments from teams not named Clemson or FSU.

Justin-Thomas-Georgia-Tech

In recent years the ACC’s football resurgence has been led by Florida State and Clemson. There is no question about that. They have done the heavy lifting. Florida State has a national championship, a playoff appearance, and is starting to dominate their series with arch-rival Florida. Clemson just played in the national title game and has beat a who’s who of college football in recent years with wins over LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma (twice), Georgia and Auburn.

What can get lost in looking at what  Florida State and Clemson have done is that strides have been made elsewhere in the conference. Certainly not to the Tigers/Noles level, but strides none the less.

We’ll be looking at the time since Pittsburgh and Syracuse joined in 2013. This will include wins, awards, and other significant occurrences.

1. #12 Georgia Tech 49 #7 Mississippi St. 34 – December 31, 2014

This Orange Bowl win shows up on our 10 best ACC OOC wins since 2010.  The Yellow Jackets completely dominated this game , as their triple option offense ran wild.  It remains the only non-FSU/Clemson ACC BCS/Big 6 Bowl victory over a team from a power 5 conference, and only the 2nd non-FSU/Clemson BCS/Big 6 bowl victory of any kind. Virginia Tech beat Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl back in 2009. Georgia Tech finished the season in the top 10 proving that a non-FSU/Clemson team could be among the nation’s best in a given year.

2. #16 Georgia Tech  30 #9 Georgia 24  – November 29, 2014

Not only did Georgia Tech go on the road and defeat a top 10 ranked Georgia team to help finish an ACC 4 SEC 0 rivalry weekend, it left Georgia Tech 10-2 heading into the ACC Championship Game against Florida State. You’ll see some other higher ranked wins on this list, but this win ranks higher because it made the ACCCG must see for the first time. Florida State was battling for a playoff spot, but playing a top 15 ranked Georgia Tech team gave the game and win more credibility. The game turned into a classic with big ratings.

3. Virginia Tech 35 #8 Ohio State 21 – September 6, 2014

Urban Meyer has lost 2 home games in 4 years at Ohio State, and one of them was a game against Virginia Tech in stunning defeat. This Ohio State team went on to beat Alabama and win the national title, but on this night Bud Foster coached a defensive masterpiece that had the Buckeyes confused and lost. You could argue that as singular win, this was the best team an ACC team has defeated in the last 10 years. The Hokies wouldn’t go on to a great season, but it showed that some ACC teams beyond Clemson and FSU could compete with anyone in the country.

4. Louisville with 10 players drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft

The Cardinals had an amazing 10 players drafted in 2015, second only to 11 from Florida State. That’s right in 2015 the two teams that produced the most NFL talent were from the ACC, and they both weren’t Clemson and FSU. This was a significant feather of the gap for the Louisville program, and told High School kids across the country there was a wealth of NFL talent playing in the ACC.

5. 2013 ACC Individual Award’s Haul

Do you remember the college football individual awards won by ACC players in 2013. The ACC won 7 of the top 11 individual awards – an incredible show of awards dominance by one conference. 4 of the awards were won by Florida State players, but 3 of the other awards were won by non-FSU, non-Clemson players.

Doak Walker – Boston College’s Andre Williams

Bednarik – Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald

Outland – Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald

Andre Williams gave the ACC 2 of the top 4 vote getters in the Heisman voting along with FSU’s Jameis Winston.

6. Miami 21 #12 Florida 16 – September 7, 2013

What I remember about this game was that just the year before Clemson had beat LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. It was a great win, but there were still so many question marks about whether the ACC could compete with the better teams in the SEC. The week before this game Clemson had beat top 5 ranked Georgia, and following that win this Miami victory raised eyebrows across the country. The ACC has suddenly taken down 2 top 15 SEC teams in back to back weeks. The win propelled the Canes to a 7-0 start and the biggest Miami/Florida State game was played in years. Both were undefeated and in the top 10.

7. Duke’s ability to rebuild their program

Though good old fashioned hard work and fundraising, Duke was was able to raise their football profile from one of the worst in the country to a respected program that has won an average of 9 games a year. Even though the Blue Devils won 10 games in 2013, it didn’t seem until a 52-48 Chick-Fil-A Bowl loss to Texas A&M that people realized this program had become actually good. It left other ACC programs with no excuse why they couldn’t get better.

8. ACC with back to back years (2014 – 2015) with 3 top 15 teams. 

For some conferences having multiple teams finish in the top 15 isn’t so noteworthy. When you are the ACC and rebuilding your football perception it is. Clemson and FSU were two of your top 15 teams, but in 2014 there was Georgia Tech and in 2015 UNC also finished in the top 15. UNC’s 2015 top 15 gave the ACC Championship Game another top 15 battle with playoff implications.

9. Boston College 37 #9 USC 31 – September 13, 2014 

The Pac 12 has been considered the 2nd best football conference for a number of years, and in some case even challenged for number one. The USC Trojans, one of the most recognizable teams in college football, took their top 10 ranking to Chestnut Hill and got ran out of Boston College in September of 2014. BC ran for over 450 yards, and controlled the Trojans in the trenches. This was just a week after Virginia Tech had beat Ohio State. You needed other ACC teams to win big-time OOC games? This one was a biggie.

10. Louisville 27 Texas A&M 21 – December 30, 2015

There a couple of reasons, this game had such significance. While Texas A&M was un-ranked and down a couple of QBs they were still 8-4 with good talent. Louisville won the Music City Bowl and it was the introduction to the country of a possible future star in QB Lamar Jackson. Louisville has appeared in several pre-season top 25 polls for 2016, and after 17 wins in two years in the ACC, the conference has added football depth with the Cardinals. The year before they won at Notre Dame too. The Irish’s only ACC loss to a team not named Clemson or FSU.

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1 comment

  1. Hokie Mark says:

    GREAT STUFF!

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