ACC Championship Game
|ACC Championship Game|
|Conference Football Championship|
|Conference||Atlantic Coast Conference|
|Current stadium||Bank of America Stadium|
|Current location||Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Most championships||Clemson (6)|
|Official website||TheACC.com Football|
|Dr Pepper (2005–2018)|
|EverBank Field (2005–2007)|
Raymond James Stadium (2008–2009)
Bank of America Stadium (2010–2015, 2017–present)
Camping World Stadium (2016)
|Jacksonville, Florida (2005–2007)|
Tampa, Florida (2008–2009)
Charlotte, North Carolina (2010–2015, 2017–present)
Orlando, Florida (2016)
The ACC Championship Game is an annual American college football game held in early 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 current champions are the Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic Division.
The Atlantic Division has been represented by either Clemson or Florida State in twelve of fifteen years through 2019, including eleven straight from 2009 to 2019, and five straight by Clemson from 2015 to 2019. The Coastal Division was represented by either Georgia Tech or Virginia Tech for the first eight games from 2005 to 2012, but from 2013 to 2019 all seven Coastal teams each represented the division after Virginia won in 2019. Louisville, North Carolina State, and Syracuse have not won the Atlantic Division. Clemson in 2018 became the first team to win four consecutive ACC Championship Games, on the heels of FSU winning three straight.
The Atlantic Division winners have gone on to win the ACC Championship Game for nine consecutive years as of 2019[update] and are 11–4 in the game overall. The Coastal teams won four consecutive years from 2007 to 2010 but have not won since.
For the 2020 season, Notre Dame is joining the ACC for conference play in football due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ACC has decided to use a division-less format for the game. Instead of representatives from two divisions, the two teams with the best conference records from a ten game conference schedule will earn a spot in the game.
The ACC Championship Game is held at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina each year, after being held in Florida (Jacksonville and Tampa) for its first five years. It is to remain a permanent fixture in Charlotte through at least 2030. The game's corporate sponsor was Dr Pepper from 2005 through the 2018 game.
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 Football 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.
Following the 2007 game the Gator Bowl Committee—organizers of the ACC Football 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 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 Football Championship Game. The prospect of tens of thousands of visitors could provide a multimillion-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 Football 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. However, in response to North Carolina's Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (HB2), the ACC voted in September 2016 to move the 2016 championship out of North Carolina.
| – Atlantic division|
– Coastal division
– Championship Game site
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; Louisville vs. Virginia; Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh; Duke vs. Wake Forest; Florida State vs. Miami; and Boston College vs. Virginia Tech.
Notre Dame joined the conference as a non-football member in 2014 and, while playing five ACC teams each season, is not eligible for the championship game. However, for the 2020 season, Notre Dame has joined the ACC for conference play and the ACC will use a division-less format for the game, with the game contested by the two teams with the best conference records.
Below are the results from all ACC Championship Games played. The winning team appears in bold font, on a background of their primary team color. Rankings are from the AP Poll released prior to the game.
Georgia Tech was forced to vacate their 2009 win due to NCAA violations.
Results by team
|Appearances||School||Wins||Losses||Pct.||Year(s) Won||Year(s) Lost|
|7||Clemson||6||1||.857||2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019||2009|
|6||Virginia Tech||3||3||.500||2007, 2008, 2010||2005, 2011, 2016|
|5||Florida State||4||1||.800||2005, 2012, 2013, 2014||2010|
|4||Georgia Tech||1||3||.250||2009||2006, 2012, 2014|
|2||Boston College||0||2||.000||2007, 2008|
- Louisville, North Carolina State, and Syracuse have yet to make an appearance in an ACC Football Championship Game. Maryland never made an appearance in an ACC Football Championship Game prior to moving to the Big Ten Conference in 2014.
|Team||Performance vs. Opponent||Year|
|Most points scored||62, Clemson vs. Virginia||2019|
|Most points scored (losing team)||37, North Carolina vs. Clemson||2015|
|Fewest points scored (winning team)||9, Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech||2006|
|Fewest points scored||3, Miami vs. Clemson||2017|
|Most points scored (both teams)||82, Clemson vs. North Carolina||2015|
|Fewest points scored (both teams)||15, Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech||2006|
|Most points scored in a half||31, Clemson (both 1st and 2nd half) vs. Virginia||2019|
|Most points scored in a half (both teams)||49, Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (first half)||2014|
|Largest margin of victory||45, Clemson vs. Virginia||2019|
|Smallest margin of victory||2, Florida State vs Georgia Tech||2014|
|First downs||33, Clemson vs. North Carolina||2015|
|Rushing yards||333, Georgia Tech vs. Clemson||2009|
|Passing yards||408, Clemson vs. Virginia||2019|
|Total yards||619, Clemson vs. Virginia||2019|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||41, Florida State vs Virginia Tech||2005|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||8, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh||2018|
|Fewest total yards allowed||199, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh||2018|
|Points scored||30, Deshaun Watson (Clemson vs. North Carolina)
30, Deshaun Watson (Clemson vs. Virginia Tech)
|Passing touchdowns||4, Trevor Lawrence (Clemson vs. Virginia)||2019|
|Rushing Touchdowns||4, C.J. Spiller (Clemson vs. Georgia Tech)||2009|
|Receiving Touchdowns||3, Tee Higgins (Clemson vs. Virginia)||2019|
|Rushing yards||233, C.J. Spiller (Clemson vs. Georgia Tech)||2009|
|Passing yards||335, Marcus Vick (Virginia Tech vs. Florida State)||2005|
|Receiving yards||182, Tee Higgins (Clemson vs. Virginia)||2019|
|All-purpose yards||420, Deshaun Watson (Clemson vs. North Carolina)||2015|
|Tackles||15, Joe Abbate (Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech)||2006|
|Sacks||2, Lawrence Timmons (Florida State vs. Virginia Tech)
2, Jeromiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech vs. Florida State)
2, Dexter Lawrence (Clemson vs. Virginia Tech)
|Interceptions||2, Breon Borders (Duke vs. Florida State)
2, Cordrea Tankersley (Clemson vs. Virginia Tech)
|Forced fumbles||2, Roger Williams (Florida State vs. Virginia Tech)
2, Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest)
|Long Plays||Player, Team vs. Opponent||Year|
|Touchdown run||75 yards, Travis Etienne (Clemson vs. Pittsburgh)||2018|
|Touchdown pass||70 yards, Josh Nesbitt to Demaryius Thomas (Georgia Tech vs. Clemson)||2009|
|Kickoff return||44 yards, Kermit Whitfield (Florida State vs. Duke)||2013|
|Punt return||83 yards, Willie Ried (Florida State vs. Virginia Tech)||2005|
|Interception return||64 yards, Bashaud Breeland (Clemson) - Pass from Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)||2011|
|Fumble return||52 yards, Jamie Silva (Boston College vs. Virginia Tech)||2007|
|Punt||63 yards, Will Spiers (Clemson vs. Pittsburgh)||2018|
|Field goal||50 yards, Dustin Keys (Virginia Tech vs. Boston College)||2008|
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