ACC Championship Game
|ACC Championship Game|
|Conference Football Championship|
|ACC Championship Game logo|
|Conference||Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Current stadium||Bank of America Stadium|
|Current location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Current champion||Florida State|
|Most championships||Florida State (4)|
|Official website||TheACC.com Football|
|Dr Pepper (2005–present)|
|Bank of America Stadium (2010–present)
Raymond James Stadium (2008–2009)
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (2005–2007)
|Charlotte, North Carolina (2010–present)
Tampa, Florida (2008–2009)
Jacksonville, Florida (2005–2007)
The Dr Pepper ACC Championship Game is an American college football game held on the first Saturday in December by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) each year to determine its football champion. The game pits the champion of the Coastal Division against the champion of the Atlantic Division in a game that follows the conclusion of the regular season. The game's corporate sponsor is Dr Pepper.
Before the 2004 college football season, the Atlantic Coast Conference determined its champion via round-robin play during the course of the regular season and there was no conference championship game. In 2004, the Atlantic Coast conference added two teams—Virginia Tech and Miami—expanding the league to 11 teams. At the time, college football teams were limited by the NCAA to 11 regular-season games, three or four of which typically featured teams outside the home team's conference. Following the 2004 season, the league added a 12th team—Boston College—and became eligible to hold a championship game at the conclusion of the 2005 season.
The conference was divided into two divisions of six teams each. The team with the best conference record in each division is selected to participate in the championship game. In the inaugural championship game, which took place at the end of the 2005 college football season, the Florida State Seminoles defeated Virginia Tech 27–22 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. In the 2006 game, two other teams faced off as Georgia Tech played Wake Forest. Wake defeated Georgia Tech 9–6. For the 2007 game, Jacksonville was awarded a one-year extension as host, and the game remained in Jacksonville. Virginia Tech returned to the ACC Championship game and faced off against Boston College. Tech won the game, 30–16, and returned to the championship in 2008 to defeat Boston College again 30–12. In 2009, Georgia Tech defeated Clemson, 39–34, but was forced to vacate the ACC championship by the NCAA. As of the end of 2012 season, six of the twelve ACC teams have played in the championship, with four different champions in the first five years.
Following the 2007 game the Gator Bowl Committee—organizers of the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville—announced they would not seek another contract extension due to falling attendance. With Jacksonville's withdrawal from future site selection, the ACC selected Tampa, Florida and Charlotte, North Carolina as future sites of the game. The 2008 and 2009 games were held in Tampa, while the 2010 and 2011 games were held in Charlotte. In 2008, the Coastal Division champion was the designated "home" team. "Home" teams are 1–2 in ACC Championship Games.
In 1990, the eight-team Atlantic Coast Conference added Florida State to the league, creating a new nine-team ACC. Though Florida State was the only school added to the conference, some league officials discussed offering one or more other schools—Navy, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, South Carolina, Miami, West Virginia, Boston College, Rutgers, or Virginia Tech—an offer to join the league. For various reasons, however, no other team was extended an offer. Throughout the 1990s, the Atlantic Coast Conference remained at nine members. Ironically, South Carolina was a charter member of the ACC that left in 1971.
The nearby Southeastern Conference (SEC), which also encompasses college football teams in the American South, also expanded in 1990. Instead of adding one team, as did the ACC, the then 10-team SEC added two—the University of Arkansas and the University of South Carolina. The expansion made the SEC the first 12-school football conference and thus the first eligible to hold a conference championship game under NCAA rules (the first game was held in 1992). The SEC enjoyed increased television ratings and revenue through the 1990s and by 2003 was earning over $100 million annually, with revenues shared out among member schools.
Officials of other leagues took note of the financial boon that followed SEC expansion to twelve teams. Atlantic Coast Conference representatives began discussing expansion to twelve schools in the first years of the new century, who began publicly pursuing the possibility of expansion anew in 2003. On May 13, 2003, representatives voted in favor of extending invitations to three schools. The only certain school was the University of Miami, while the other two spots were still being debated. Initially, the league favored admitting Miami, Syracuse University, and Boston College. After a month of debate, however, the ACC elected to extend formal invitations to Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech, which joined after initially being overlooked. This came years after these schools were considered for ACC membership in the early 1990s but nothing had ever came to fruition. Pittsburgh and Syracuse would also eventually join the ACC after rejections in 1990 and 2003, becoming members in 2013.
Miami and Virginia Tech began official ACC play with the 2004 college football season. After the league settled a lawsuit resulting from the departure of the three former Big East Conference teams, Boston College began ACC play in the 2005 season. With the league officially at 12 teams, it became eligible to hold a conference championship football game.
Even before the announcement proclaiming the ACC's expansion to 12 teams, several cities and sports organizations were preparing bids to host the ACC Championship Game. The prospect of tens of thousands of visitors could provide a multi-million-dollar economic boost for a host city and region while requiring few, if any, additional facilities. One early contender was the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Even before Virginia Tech, Miami, and Boston College were chosen as the ACC's picks to expand, Carolinas Stadium Corporation, the owner and operator of Charlotte's Ericsson Stadium (as it was called then) lobbied heavily for Charlotte's selection. Other early options included Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.
Shortly after negotiations for the location of the game began during the spring of 2004, the ACC announced that it had signed a new, seven-year television contract with ABC-TV and ESPN. As part of the deal, the ACC would earn over $40 million in revenue a year in exchange for the networks' exclusive right to televise the ACC Championship Game along with several high-profile regular season games. Revenues would be divided among the 12 ACC member schools.
In July 2004 the ACC began deliberations about which bid to accept. On August 19, 2004, league officials announced that Jacksonville would host the game in 2005 and 2006. The league would then have the option to re-select Jacksonville for an additional one or two-year contract. Charlotte was the first runner-up in the competition.
For its first three years, the championship game was held at EverBank Field (known as Alltel Stadium in 2005 and 2006 and Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in 2007). That contract expired after the 2007 season. In December 2007, the ACC awarded the next four games to Tampa (first two) and Charlotte (next two). Raymond James Stadium was the venue for the Tampa games in 2008 and 2009, while the Bank of America Stadium provided the venue for the Charlotte games in 2010 and 2011. Charlotte hosted the game again in 2012 and 2013. In February 2014 it was announced that Charlotte would continue to host the game through at least 2019. 
Following the absorption of Virginia Tech and Miami into the ACC, questions arose about how an 11-team league could fairly select participants in the conference championship game. A divisional structure involving two six-team divisions competing for two championship-game slots would not be possible. In addition, the ACC could not continue to select its champion via round-robin play since there were now 11 teams and only seven or eight conference games available per team. Even the NCAA's addition of a 12th game to the regular season did little to relieve the conference's problem. Prior to the 2004 college football season, the ACC requested a waiver to the NCAA's rule requiring conferences to have 12-plus teams before having a conference championship game. Before the season began, however, the NCAA rejected the ACC's application, and the league had to use a semi-round-robin format to select a champion during the 2004 football season. After that season, the inclusion of Boston College as the ACC's 12th team solved the problem of enabling the ACC to have a championship football game.
On October 18, 2004, the ACC announced its new football structure with two divisions. Each six-team division plays a round-robin schedule within the division and a rotation of three conference games against teams from the opposing division. The two teams with the best conference records in each division earn places to the championship game. In the event of a tie in records within one division, divisional records and the results of head-to-head games are considered.
Also, in the games between the two divisions, each team has a permanent rival team that is played every year. Hence, every year, there are these football games: Georgia Tech vs. Clemson; North Carolina vs. North Carolina State; Maryland vs. Virginia; Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh; Duke vs. Wake Forest; Florida State vs. Miami; and Boston College vs. Virginia Tech. Maryland will leave the ACC for the Big Ten in 2014 and be replaced by Louisville, with Louisville becoming Virginia's permanent opponent.
Notre Dame joined the conference as a non-divisional member in 2014 and, while playing several ACC teams each season, is not eligible for the championship game.
The inaugural ACC Championship Game kicked off in Jacksonville, Florida at 8:11 p.m. on December 3, 2005. The game was televised on ABC in the United States, and earned a Nielsen rating of 5.1, higher than that of either the Big 12 Championship Game or the Southeastern Conference Championship Game. The game pitted the Virginia Tech Hokies, champions of the Coastal Division, against the Florida State Seminoles, champions of the Atlantic Division.
The game was marked by defense and penalties throughout. In the first half, both teams battled to a 3–3 tie. Florida State scored first, with a field goal in the early first quarter, but Virginia Tech fought back, equalizing the score before the end of the quarter. Both teams were held scoreless in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Florida State took a 27–3 lead, courtesy of a series of successful offensive drives by Seminoles quarterback Drew Weatherford. Virginia Tech fought back in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to 27–22, but time ran out before the Hokies could attempt a go-ahead drive. Florida State won the inaugural ACC Championship game, 27–22.
The 2006 ACC Championship Game featured Wake Forest, which had not won an ACC championship since 1970, and Georgia Tech, which had won the ACC championships in 1990 and 1998 along with a split national championship in 1990. At the beginning of the season, neither team was predicted to participate in the championship game—Wake Forest was picked to finish last in the Atlantic Division, while Georgia Tech was picked to finish third in the Coastal Division. Wake Forest, buoyed by the play of ACC rookie of the year Riley Skinner, upset expectations by winning 10 games—the most in school history. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, went 5–1 to start its season and defeated No. 11 Virginia Tech to overcome its only challenger for the Coastal Division title.
The game, which kicked off on December 2, 2006, was marked by poor weather. Defense dominated from the beginning, as Georgia Tech took a 3–0 lead in the first quarter. Wake Forest evened the score before halftime, however, and the two teams headed into the second half tied at 3–3. After a scoreless third quarter, Georgia Tech took a 6–3 lead early in the fourth quarter. After Tech quarterback Reggie Ball threw a critical interception, Wake Forest was able to tie the game, then take a 9–6 lead. With time running out, Wake's defense denied Georgia Tech a game-winning score, and Wake Forest clinched the win. All the scoring in the game came via five field goals, and Wake Forest's kicker, Sam Swank, was named the game's most valuable player.
The 2007 ACC Championship Game saw the Virginia Tech Hokies return to the contest for the second time in three years. On the other side of the field was Boston College, which finished the season with a 10–2 overall record. The game kicked off at 1:10 p.m. EST in Jacksonville, Florida. The game was broadcast on ABC and netted a television rating of 4.1, placing it behind the SEC Championship Game and the Big 12 Championship Game, which earned ratings of 5.9 and 6.6, respectively. In the first half, the two teams battled to a 16–16 tie. Boston College took a 7–0 lead in the first quarter and a 10–0 lead early in the second, but Virginia Tech earned a rare defensive two-point conversion following a second Boston College touchdown and tacked on two touchdowns of its own to tie the game before halftime.
In the second half, the two teams ratcheted up their defensive play. Neither team scored in the third quarter, and the tie continued well into the fourth quarter. With 6:30 remaining in the game, Virginia Tech took its first lead of the game on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Sean Glennon. With time running out, Boston College was forced into a hurry-up offense. Eagles quarterback and ACC Offensive Player of the Year Matt Ryan threw an interception, however, and Tech defender Xavier Adibi returned the pass for a touchdown. The score gave Virginia Tech a 30–16 lead and the victory.
The 2008 ACC Championship Game was played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on December 6, 2008. The game was moved to Tampa after poor attendance in Jacksonville caused conference officials to seek a new site. Despite the new location, attendance continued to be low. Turnstile attendance was 27,360; approximately half of the 53,927 tickets distributed for the game went unused.
Virginia Tech returned to the ACC Championship game in 2008 for the third time in the contest's four-year history as champion of the Coastal division. Representing the Atlantic division was Boston College. The two teams played in the 2007 ACC Championship game, but had to endure a conference schedule regarded as crazy, wacky, "a mess", and "confusing" by members of the media and college football fans. So closely matched were the 12 teams of the conference that as late as the second-to-last week of the regular season, nine teams were still in the running for a place in the championship game. Following the final week of the regular season, both Virginia Tech and Boston College earned their berths in the championship game by virtue of tie-breaking rules that selected the two teams by virtue of head-to-head wins over their compatriots.
The game itself was much less closely contested. Though it began slowly, with both teams punting after their opening possessions, Virginia Tech took a 7–0 lead near the end of the first quarter with a five-yard touchdown run by Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Hokies never relinquished the lead or allowed a tie after that point. Tech extended its lead to 14–0 in the second quarter, but Boston College managed to narrow Tech's lead to 14–7 by halftime. In the second half, Virginia Tech scored 16 points to the Eagles' five, and the Hokies won the game, 30–12. In recognition of his game-winning performance, Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor was named the game's most valuable player.
The 2009 ACC Championship Game was played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on December 5, 2009. Georgia Tech played as the Coastal Division champion, winning the division with a 7–1 conference record. Clemson played as the Atlantic Division champion, winning the division with a 6–2 record after a 1–2 start. Georgia Tech and Clemson had played on September 10 in Atlanta. In that game, Georgia Tech led 24–0 before Clemson took the lead late, 27–24. Georgia Tech fought back, winning 30–27 with two field goals in the final 5:40.
In the days leading up to the game, each team had to fend off criticism about its performance during the regular season. Each team lost its final regular-season game of the year to their respective in-state (SEC) rivals, and commentators seized upon the teams' losing finishes as evidence of their sub-par quality. Clemson seized upon this criticism, using it as motivation in pregame practice. Star Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, who had returned to school for another year in an effort to win the ACC Championship, was predicted to be a prominent performer in the game. On the other side of the field, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson, who had been named ACC Coach of the Year, was portrayed as a strategist trying to stop Clemson.
The game began with a quick start by Clemson: The Tigers needed just seven plays to cover 71 yards and score the game's first touchdown. Georgia Tech responded with a field goal, and the Tigers led 7–3 after the first quarter. Tech had a 16–13 lead at halftime, courtesy of a touchdown and two more field goals. Clemson managed only two field goals. Tech extended its lead in the third quarter, which ended with the Yellow Jackets leading 33–20. In the final quarter, Clemson scored 14 unanswered points, gaining a one-point lead. Georgia Tech received the ball on its 14-yard line with 6:11 remaining, then drove 86 yards in 14 plays to score a go-ahead touchdown. Given the ball with only 1:20 left on the clock and no timeouts, Clemson turned the ball over on downs, allowing Georgia Tech to run out the clock and preserve its victory.
The final score was 39–34, giving Georgia Tech its first ACC Championship since a shared title in 1998 and its first undisputed conference championship since 1990. In a losing effort, Clemson's Spiller was named the game's most valuable player. He carried the ball 20 times for 233 yards and four touchdowns, setting an ACC title-game record for rushing yards. In its final appearance in Tampa, the game sold 57,227 tickets and saw a turnstile attendance of 44,897, pleasing conference officials, who feared a repetition of the low attendance the previous year.
On July 18, 2011, Georgia Tech was forced to vacate the win due to the result of an NCAA investigation. The NCAA announced the game would be considered to have no winner.
The 2010 ACC Championship Game, played on December 4, 2010, was the first played in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Because of poor attendance in the Florida sites the Conference moved it to Charlotte, which is more centrally located to the ACC's fan base.
The match up featured Atlantic Division champion Florida State against Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech. The Hokies, after suffering opening losses to Boise State and FCS James Madison entered the championship game on a 10-game winning streak. They were also the first team to be 8–0 in the conference since the 2000 Florida State Seminoles. The Atlantic Division was in more flux. Florida State had suffered losses to both North Carolina State and North Carolina, but NC State lost the final game of the regular season to Maryland leaving FSU with the best record in the division.
Despite Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder being forced to sit out the game because of a tear in his elbow fascia, the match up was a high scoring affair. The Seminoles took an early 3–0 lead but it was soon erased when Virginia Tech returned an interception for a touchdown. The Seminoles would briefly regain the lead in the first quarter but Virginia Tech responded and did not let go of the lead.
The final score was Virginia Tech 44, Florida State 33. The win was the Hokies' fourth conference championship since joining the league in 2004 and third win in the ACC championship game.
The 2011 ACC Championship Game was played on December 3, 2011, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina between Clemson and Virginia Tech. Clemson won convincingly, by a score of 38–10. It was Clemson's first conference title since 1991 and their first Orange Bowl bid since 1981. This was the most attended ACC Championship to date, most likely due to the fact that Charlotte was conveniently located approximately halfway between Blacksburg and Clemson. The game was balanced in the first half, with a halftime score of 10–10. Clemson split the game open in the second half however, riding on quarterback Tajh Boyd's excellent play. He ended up winning the MVP for his 240 yard, 3 touchdown performance.
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|Year||Atlantic Division||Score||Coastal Division||Venue, Location||Ticket Sales||MVP|
|2005||#22 Florida State||27–22||#5 Virginia Tech||Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, FL||72,749||Willie Reid (Florida State)|
|2006||#16 Wake Forest||9–6||#22 Georgia Tech||Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, FL||62,850||Sam Swank (Wake Forest)|
|2007||#12 Boston College||16–30||#5 Virginia Tech||Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, FL||53,212||Sean Glennon (Virginia Tech)|
|2008||#20 Boston College||12–30||#25 Virginia Tech||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL||27,360||Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)|
|2009||#25 Clemson||34–39*||#10 Georgia Tech*||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL||44,897||C. J. Spiller (Clemson)|
|2010||#20 Florida State||33–44||#11 Virginia Tech||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC||72,379||Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)|
|2011||#21 Clemson||38–10||#5 Virginia Tech||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC||73,675||Tajh Boyd (Clemson)|
|2012||#12 Florida State||21–15||Georgia Tech||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC||64,778||James Wilder, Jr. (Florida State)|
|2013||#1 Florida State||45–7||#20 Duke||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC||67,694||Jameis Winston (Florida State)|
|2014||#2 Florida State||37–35||#12 Georgia Tech||Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC||64,808||Dalvin Cook (Florida State)|
Results by team
|5||Florida State Seminoles||4||1||.800|
|5||Virginia Tech Hokies||3||2||.600|
|4||Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||1*||3||.250|
|2||Boston College Eagles||0||2||.000|
|1||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||1||0||1.000|
|1||Duke Blue Devils||0||1||.000|
|0||Maryland Terrapins||0||0||.000||Left ACC for Big Ten in 2014|
|0||North Carolina Tar Heels||0||0||.000|
|0||North Carolina State Wolfpack||0||0||.000|
*Win later vacated
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