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ACC Championship Game

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ACC Championship Game
ACC Championship Game logo.webp
SportCollege football
ConferenceAtlantic Coast Conference
Current stadiumBank of America Stadium
Current locationCharlotte, North Carolina
Last contest2021
Current championPittsburgh
Most championshipsClemson (7)
TV partner(s)ABC/ESPN
Official Football
Dr Pepper (2005–2018)
Subway (2021–present)
Host stadiums
EverBank Field (2005–2007)
Raymond James Stadium (2008–2009)
Bank of America Stadium (2010–2015, 2017–present)
Camping World Stadium (2016)
Host locations
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 Pittsburgh Panthers of the Coastal Division.

The Atlantic Division was 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 went on to win the ACC Championship Game for nine consecutive years from 2011 to 2019, and are 11–5 in the game overall. The Coastal teams won four consecutive years from 2007 to 2010, but did not win again until 2021.

For the 2020 season, Notre Dame joined the ACC for conference play in football due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ACC 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 earned a spot in the game.[1]

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.[2] 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.

Conference expansion[edit]

In 1990, the eight-team Atlantic Coast Conference added Florida State to the league, creating a new nine-team ACC.[3] 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.[4] 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[5] and the University of South Carolina.[6] 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).[7] 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.[8]

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,[9] 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.[10] Initially, the league favored admitting Miami, Syracuse University, and Boston College.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] After the league settled a lawsuit resulting from the departure of the three former Big East Conference teams,[14] Boston College began ACC play in the 2005 season.[15] With the league officially at 12 teams, it became eligible to hold a conference championship football game.

Site selection[edit]

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.[16] Other early options included Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.[17][18][19]

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.[20] 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.[21]

In July 2004 the ACC began deliberations about which bid to accept.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27]

Team selection[edit]

Blue pog.svg – Atlantic division
Red pog.svg – Coastal division
Green pog.svg – 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.[28] 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.[29] 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,[30] 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.[31] In the event of a tie in records within one division, divisional records and the results of head-to-head games are considered.[32]

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.[33] However, for the 2020 season, Notre Dame joined the ACC for conference play and the ACC used a division-less format for the game, with the game contested by the two teams with the best conference records.[34]



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.

Year Atlantic Division Coastal Division Site Attendance MVP
2005 22 Florida State Seminoles 27 5 Virginia Tech Hokies 22 EverBank FieldJacksonville, FL 72,749 Willie Reid, Florida State
2006 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 9 23 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 6 62,850 Sam Swank, Wake Forest
2007 12 Boston College Eagles 16 6 Virginia Tech Hokies 30 53,212 Sean Glennon, Virginia Tech
2008 18 Boston College Eagles 12 25 Virginia Tech Hokies 30 Raymond James StadiumTampa, FL 53,927 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
2009 25 Clemson Tigers 34 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jacketsdagger 39 44,897 C. J. Spiller, Clemson
2010 20 Florida State Seminoles 33 12 Virginia Tech Hokies 44 Bank of America StadiumCharlotte, NC 72,379 Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
2011 21 Clemson Tigers 38 5 Virginia Tech Hokies 10 73,675 Tajh Boyd, Clemson
2012 13 Florida State Seminoles 21 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 15 64,778 James Wilder Jr., Florida State
2013 1 Florida State Seminoles 45 20 Duke Blue Devils 7 67,694 Jameis Winston, Florida State
2014 2 Florida State Seminoles 37 12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 35 64,808 Dalvin Cook, Florida State
2015 1 Clemson Tigers 45 8 North Carolina Tar Heels 37 74,514 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2016 3 Clemson Tigers 42 19 Virginia Tech Hokies 35 Camping World StadiumOrlando, FL 50,628 Deshaun Watson, Clemson
2017 1 Clemson Tigers 38 7 Miami Hurricanes 3 Bank of America Stadium • Charlotte, NC 74,372 Kelly Bryant, Clemson
2018 2 Clemson Tigers 42 Pittsburgh Panthers 10 67,784 Travis Etienne, Clemson
2019 3 Clemson Tigers 62 22 Virginia Cavaliers 17 66,810 Tee Higgins, Clemson
Year #1 Seed #2 Seed Site Attendance MVP
2020 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 10 3 Clemson Tigers 34 Bank of America Stadium • Charlotte, NC 5,240double-dagger Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
Year Atlantic Division Coastal Division Site Attendance MVP
2021 16 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 21 15 Pittsburgh Panthers 45 Bank of America Stadium • Charlotte, NC 57,856 Erick Hallett, Pittsburgh

dagger Georgia Tech was forced to vacate their 2009 win due to NCAA violations.[35]
double-dagger 2020 game attendance capped due to the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.

Results by team[edit]

Appearances School Wins Losses Pct. Year(s) Won Year(s) Lost
8 Clemson Tigers 7 1 .875 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 2009
6 Virginia Tech Hokies 3 3 .500 2007, 2008, 2010 2005, 2011, 2016
5 Florida State Seminoles 4 1 .800 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014 2010
4 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 1 3 .250 2009† 2006, 2012, 2014
2 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 1 1 .500 2006 2021
2 Pittsburgh Panthers 1 1 .500 2021 2018
2 Boston College Eagles 0 2 .000   2007, 2008
1 Duke Blue Devils 0 1 .000   2013
1 North Carolina Tar Heels 0 1 .000   2015
1 Miami Hurricanes 0 1 .000   2017
1 Virginia Cavaliers 0 1 .000   2019
1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 0 1 .000   2020

Common matchups[edit]

Matchups that have occurred more than once:

# of Times Atlantic Division Coastal Division Record Years Played
2 Florida State Virginia Tech Tied, 1–1 2005, 2010
2 Boston College Virginia Tech Virginia Tech, 2–0 2007, 2008
2 Clemson Virginia Tech Clemson, 2–0 2011, 2016
2 Florida State Georgia Tech Florida State, 2–0 2012, 2014

Game records[edit]

Team Record, Team vs. Opponent Year
Most points scored (one team) 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 (45) vs. North Carolina (37) 2015
Fewest points scored (both teams) 15, Wake Forest (9) vs. Georgia Tech (6) 2006
Most points scored in a half 31, Clemson (both halves) vs. Virginia 2019
Most points scored in a half (both teams) 49, Florida State vs. Georgia Tech (1st half) 2014
Largest margin of victory 45, Clemson (62) vs. Virginia (17) 2019
Smallest margin of victory 2, Florida State (37) vs. Georgia Tech (35) 2014
Total yards 619, Clemson (408 passing, 211 rushing) vs. Virginia 2019
Rushing yards 333, Georgia Tech vs. Clemson 2009
Passing yards 408, Clemson vs. Virginia 2019
First downs 33, Clemson vs. North Carolina 2015
Fewest yards allowed 200, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh (8 passing, 192 rushing) 2018
Fewest rushing yards allowed 41, Florida State vs. Virginia Tech 2005
Fewest passing yards allowed 8, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh 2018
Individual Record, Player, Team vs. Opponent Year
All-purpose yards 420, Deshaun Watson, Clemson vs. North Carolina 2015
Touchdowns (all-purpose) 5, shared by:
Deshaun Watson, Clemson vs. North Carolina
Deshaun Watson, Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Rushing yards 233, C.J. Spiller, Clemson vs. Georgia Tech 2009
Rushing touchdowns 4, C.J. Spiller, Clemson vs. Georgia Tech 2009
Passing yards 335, Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech vs. Florida State 2005
Passing touchdowns 4, Trevor Lawrence, Clemson vs. Virginia 2019
Receiving yards 182, Tee Higgins, Clemson vs. Virginia 2019
Receiving touchdowns 3, Tee Higgins, Clemson vs. Virginia 2019
Tackles 15, Jon Abbate, Wake Forest vs. Georgia Tech 2006
Sacks 2, shared by:
Dexter Lawrence, Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Sirvocea Dennis, Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest
Interceptions 2, shared by:
Cordrea Tankersley, Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
Erick Hallett, Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest
Long Plays Record, Player, Team vs. Opponent Year
Touchdown run 75, Travis Etienne, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh 2018
Touchdown pass 67, Amari Rodgers from Trevor Lawrence, Clemson vs. Notre Dame 2020
Kickoff return 44, Kermit Whitfield, Florida State vs. Duke 2013
Punt return 83, Willie Reid, Florida State vs. Virginia Tech 2005
Interception return 73, A. J. Woods, Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest 2021
Fumble return 52, Jamie Silva, Boston College vs. Virginia Tech 2007
Punt 63, Will Spiers, Clemson vs. Pittsburgh 2018
Field goal 51, Jonathan Doerer, Notre Dame vs. Clemson 2020
Miscellaneous Record, Team vs. Team Year
Game attendance 74,514, Clemson vs. North Carolina 2015


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ACC Unveils 2020 Football Schedule".
  2. ^ ACC Championship Game to remain in Charlotte through 2030 season, accessed May 18, 2018
  3. ^ "FSU to Battle for ACC Titles." Wire and Staff Reports, Philadelphia Daily News. September 15, 1990. Page 45.
  4. ^ "ACC Considers 10 in Expansion Plans." Dan Caesar, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. July 27, 1990. Page 2D.
  5. ^ Arkansas Set to Join S.E.C. The Associated Press, The New York Times. July 31, 1990. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  6. ^ South Carolina Joins the S.E.C. The Associated Press, The New York Times. September 26, 1990. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  7. ^ About the Southeastern Conference Accessed March 13, 2008. Archived December 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ ACC expansion doesn't concern members of SEC Tim Vacek, Gannett News Service, July 8, 2003. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  9. ^ Remote control: TV money a driving force for ACC expansion Archived March 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine Joe Starkey, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. June 1, 2003. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  10. ^ ACC to ask Miami, two others to join conference, May 13, 2003. Accessed March 9, 2009.
  11. ^ At Miami's Mercy The Associated Press, May 15, 2003. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  12. ^ President Steger Regarding ACC Acceptance Charles Steger, June 27, 2003. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  13. ^ Miami, Virginia Tech quietly join ACC Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine The Associated Press, July 2, 2004. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  14. ^ Conferences schedule games as part of settlement The Associated Press, May 4, 2005. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  15. ^ After Ugly Breakup, BC Hopes for Fast Start in ACC Mark Schlabach, The Washington Post. August 10, 2005; Page E04. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  16. ^ "Charlotte wants title game." David Scott, The Charlotte Observer. May 15, 2003. Page C3.
  17. ^ Nine cities vie for ACC Championship game Kevin Donahue, May 10, 2004. Accessed April 24, 2008.
  18. ^ ACC Looks for Title-Game Host Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine The Associated Press, May 10, 2004. Accessed May 3, 2008.
  19. ^ "Tampa seeks to host ACC football championship". Doug Carlson, The Tampa Tribune. January 29, 2004. Accessed May 9, 2008.
  20. ^ ACC Reaches New Football Agreement With ABC Sports, ESPN Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, May 12, 2004. Accessed May 3, 2008.
  21. ^ Bigger League Means Bigger Money for Expanding ACC Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Eddie Pells, the Associated Press, May 12, 2004. Accessed May 3, 2008.
  22. ^ ACC Sub-Committee Gathers For Site Selection Of 2005 ACC Football Championship Game Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, July 1, 2004. Accessed May 3, 2008.
  23. ^ Jacksonville to host ACC championship game The Associated Press, August 19, 2004. Accessed April 24, 2008.
  24. ^ "Jacksonville to host 2007 ACC football title game". February 6, 2007.
  25. ^ "ACC Football Title Games to Tampa, Charlotte". December 12, 2007. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  26. ^ "ACC, Charlotte look ahead to even better things". February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  27. ^ "'Historically bad:' ACC pulls championships from NC". September 14, 2016.
  28. ^ Transcript of Tuesday's Press Conference Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, July 1, 2003. Accessed March 14, 2008.
  29. ^ College Football Gets 12th Game Liz Clarke, The Washington Post. April 29, 2005. Accessed May 9, 2008.
  30. ^ Formatting league still up for discussion Scripps Howard News Service, September 24, 2008. Accessed May 9, 2008.
  31. ^ ACC Unveils Future League Seal, Divisional Names Archived May 25, 2013, at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, October 18, 2004. Accessed March 14, 2008.
  32. ^ Atlantic Coast Conference Football Divisional Tiebreaker Archived May 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, Accessed May 9, 2008.
  33. ^ Chip Patterson (December 20, 2013). "Notre Dame sets ACC schedule for 2014–16". Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  34. ^ "ACC Unveils 2020 Football Schedule".
  35. ^ Dinich, Heather. "Verdict on 2009 ACC title game: No winner – ACC Blog – ESPN". Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  36. ^ "2021 ACC FB Media Guide" (PDF). pp. 137–138. Retrieved November 23, 2021.