ACC Championship Game

This article is about the football championship game. For other games, see List of ACC Championship Games.
ACC Football Championship Game
Conference Football Championship
Sport College football
Conference Atlantic Coast Conference
Current stadium Camping World Stadium
Current location Orlando, Florida
Played 2005–present
Last contest 2016
Current champion Clemson
Most championships Florida State (4)
TV partner(s) ABC/ESPN
Official website Football
Dr Pepper (2005–present)
Host stadiums
Camping World Stadium (2016)
Bank of America Stadium (2010–2015)
Raymond James Stadium (2008–2009)
Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (2005–2007)
Host locations
Orlando, Florida (2016)
Charlotte, North Carolina (2010–2015)
Tampa, Florida (2008–2009)
Jacksonville, Florida (2005–2007)

The Dr Pepper ACC Football 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. The current champion are the Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic Division.


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 2008, the Coastal Division champion was the designated "home" team.

Conference expansion

In 1990, the eight-team Atlantic Coast Conference added Florida State to the league, creating a new nine-team ACC.[1] 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.[2] 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[3] and the University of South Carolina.[4] 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).[5] 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.[6]

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,[7] 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.[8] Initially, the league favored admitting Miami, Syracuse University, and Boston College.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] After the league settled a lawsuit resulting from the departure of the three former Big East Conference teams,[12] Boston College began ACC play in the 2005 season.[13] With the league officially at 12 teams, it became eligible to hold a conference championship football game.

Site selection

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.[14] Other early options included Orlando, Tampa, Atlanta, and Jacksonville.[15][16][17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

In July 2004 the ACC began deliberations about which bid to accept.[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25]

Team selection

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.[26] 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.[27] 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,[28] 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.[29] In the event of a tie in records within one division, divisional records and the results of head-to-head games are considered.[30]

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-divisional member in 2014 and, while playing five ACC teams each season, is not eligible for the championship game.[31]




Year Atlantic Division Score Coastal Division Venue, Location Ticket Sales MVP
2005 #22 Florida State 27–22 #5 Virginia Tech Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida 72,749 Willie Reid (Florida State)
2006 #16 Wake Forest 9–6 #22 Georgia Tech Alltel Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida 62,850 Sam Swank (Wake Forest)
2007 #12 Boston College 16–30 #5 Virginia Tech Jacksonville Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida 53,212 Sean Glennon (Virginia Tech)
2008 #20 Boston College 12–30 #25 Virginia Tech Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida 53,927 Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
2009 #25 Clemson 34–39* #10 Georgia Tech* Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida 44,897 C. J. Spiller (Clemson)
2010 #20 Florida State 33–44 #11 Virginia Tech Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 72,379 Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
2011 #21 Clemson 38–10 #5 Virginia Tech Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 73,675 Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
2012 #12 Florida State 21–15 Georgia Tech Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 64,778 James Wilder, Jr. (Florida State)
2013 #1 Florida State 45–7 #20 Duke Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 67,694 Jameis Winston (Florida State)
2014 #2 Florida State 37–35 #12 Georgia Tech Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 64,808 Dalvin Cook (Florida State)
2015 #1 Clemson 45–37 #8 North Carolina Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 74,514 Deshaun Watson (Clemson)
2016 #3 Clemson 42-35 #23 Virginia Tech Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida[32] 50,628 Deshaun Watson (Clemson)

Winners are listed in bold.   Rankings are from the Coaches Poll released prior to the game.
*Georgia Tech was forced to vacate this win due to NCAA violations.[33]

Results by team

Appearances School Wins Losses Pct. Year(s) Won
6 Virginia Tech 3 3 .500 2007, 2008, 2010
5 Florida State 4 1 .800 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014
4 Clemson 3 1 .750 2011, 2015, 2016
4 Georgia Tech 1* 3 .000 2009
2 Boston College 0 2 .000
1 Wake Forest 1 0 1.000 2006
1 Duke 0 1 .000
1 North Carolina 0 1 .000

*Georgia Tech's win in 2009 was later vacated.

See also

List of NCAA Division I FBS Conference Championship games


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

External links

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