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The Atlantic Coast Conference football champions includes 11 distinct teams that have won the college football championship awarded by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) since its creation in 1953. Sixteen different teams have competed in the conference since that year. Five teams—Miami, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Louisville—have never won an ACC football championship, while two teams that are no longer a member of the league hold championships: Maryland holds nine championships and South Carolina holds one championship.

Between 1953 and 2003, the championship was normally earned in round-robin regular-season play among all conference members, although in earlier years league teams did not typically play every possible ACC opponent. The league did not employ tiebreaking procedures, such as head-to-head results, to determine a single champion, and thus it was not unusual for a season to end with "co-champions." With a 2004 expansion of the league to include Miami and Virginia Tech, round-robin play became impossible due to an NCAA limit on the number of games a team may play during the season and the unwillingness of the league to hold more than eight conference games per season per team. NCAA rules also forbade a championship game due to the league having only 11 members.

A 2005 expansion that admitted Boston College gave the ACC the required 12 members needed for divisional play and a championship game. The ACC Championship Game has been held annually since that year, featuring the regular-season winners of the Atlantic and Coastal divisions in a game to determine the conference champion.[1]

During the 2005, 2006, and 2007 seasons, the championship game was held at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2008 and 2009, the championship was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. In 2010 and 2011, the venue switched to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and on December 2, 2011 the ACC announced that the 2012 and 2013 ACC Championship Games would again be played in Charlotte.[2]


Early eraEdit

The charter members of the ACC were Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest.[3] The seven ACC charter members had been aligned with the Southern Conference, but left due in part to the conference's ban on postseason play.[4] The ACC officially came into existence on June 14, 1953.[3] The 1953 college football season, the first under the new conference, saw Duke and Maryland crowned conference co-champions. Maryland later went on to be crowned national champions before losing the 1954 Orange Bowl.[5]

On December 4, 1953, conference officials convened in Greensboro, North Carolina, and admitted the University of Virginia as the eighth member of the conference.[3] Virginia was the first non-Southern Conference member to join the new conference, as Virginia had played football with no conference affiliation since 1936.[4] The conference operated with eight members until June 30, 1971, when the University of South Carolina left to become an independent.[6]

After South Carolina's departure, the ACC operated with seven members until April 3, 1978, when the Georgia Institute of Technology was admitted. The Atlanta, school had withdrawn from the Southeastern Conference in January 1964 and had operated as an independent before joining the ACC.[7] Though the school joined the conference beginning with the 1979 season, it did not become eligible to win the ACC football championship until the 1983 season.[8] Seven years after beginning full ACC play, Georgia Tech won its first ACC football championship en route to winning the 1990 NCAA Division I football championship.[9]

In the fall of 1982, Clemson University was put on probation by the NCAA for recruiting violations.[10] The probation forbade the team from participating in any bowl games, reduced the scholarships available to the team, and rendered the team ineligible for ACC football championship competition.[10] Though the team still played its full slate of games during the 1983 season and finished 9–1–1, Maryland, which finished with an 8–4 record, was awarded the ACC football championship.[11]

The ACC expanded to nine members on September 15, 1990, with the addition of Florida State.[12] Beginning with the 1992 football season—its first in the ACC—Florida State won or shared the ACC football championship nine consecutive times.[13] The conference expanded to 11 members on July 1, 2004, with the addition of the University of Miami and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.[12]

Miami and Virginia Tech began official ACC play with the 2004 season,[14] but because the league was forbidden from hosting a championship game, the conference was forced to award a championship based on regular-season play (round-robin scheduling was no longer used beginning that season). Virginia Tech, which had the best conference record at the conclusion of the season, was awarded the ACC championship.[15]

Championship game eraEdit

The final scoreboard of the 2007 ACC Championship Game records the 30–16 score and congratulates Virginia Tech on its victory.

Following the admittance of Boston College into the conference beginning with the 2005–2006 season, the conference began to play an annual championship game to conclude the season.[16] The new 12-team conference was divided into two divisions, and the champion of each division (the team with the best conference record in each division) was awarded an invitation to the conference championship game.[17]

The first championship game was held in Jacksonville, Florida, on December 3, 2005,[18] with Florida State (champions of the Atlantic Division) defeating Virginia Tech (Coastal Division champions), 27–22.[19] In 2006, Wake Forest faced off against Georgia Tech for the championship. In the lowest-scoring conference championship game in Division I history, Wake defeated Georgia Tech, 9–6.[20] The 2007 game saw Virginia Tech return to the contest, this time facing off against Boston College. In their second ACC Championship Game, Tech defeated Boston College, 30–16.[21]

The 2008 ACC Championship Game was held in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on December 6, 2008. Virginia Tech won by a score of 30–12, becoming the first ACC team to win consecutive ACC championship games.[22] Tampa also hosted the 2009 ACC Championship Game which was won by Georgia Tech over Clemson.[23] Poor attendance in both of the Florida locations caused a move to Charlotte, North Carolina's Bank of America Stadium for the 2010 and 2011 games.[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.

Champions by yearEdit

[24][not in citation given]

Year Champion(s) Notes
1953 Duke
This was the inaugural ACC football season, and seven teams participated.[3]
Maryland also won the 1953 NCAA Division I college football national championship.[24]
1954 Duke Virginia participated as an ACC team for the first time. Eight schools participated in the ACC.[3]
1955 Duke
1956 Clemson
1957 NC State
1958 Clemson
1959 Clemson
1960 Duke
1961 Duke
1962 Duke
1963 North Carolina
NC State
1964 NC State
1965 Clemson
NC State
South Carolina/Duke originally co-champions. League office made South Carolina forfeit wins against NC State and Clemson which made them co-champions.[24]
1966 Clemson
1967 Clemson
1968 NC State
1969 South Carolina
1970 Wake Forest
1971 North Carolina South Carolina left the ACC following the 1971 season. Seven teams remained in the ACC.[6]
1972 North Carolina
1973 NC State
1974 Maryland
1975 Maryland
1976 Maryland
1977 North Carolina
1978 Clemson
1979 NC State
1980 North Carolina
1981 Clemson Clemson also won the National Championship beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl.
1982 Clemson
1983 Maryland Clemson finished undefeated against ACC opponents, but was ineligible for the 1983 conference title. Therefore, the championship was awarded to Maryland, whose loss to Clemson did not count against its conference record.[11] Georgia Tech became eligible to win the ACC football championship this season.[8]
1984 Maryland
1985 Maryland
1986 Clemson
1987 Clemson
1988 Clemson
1989 Duke
Virginia received the Citrus Bowl bid awarded to the ACC champion in 1989.[24]
1990 Georgia Tech Georgia Tech also won the UPI National Championship (now the USA Today Coaches' Poll), beating Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl.
1991 Clemson Florida State joined the ACC, but did not compete for the football championship until the following season.[13]
1992 Florida State
1993 Florida State Florida State also won the National Championship that season, beating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl
1994 Florida State
1995 Florida State
Florida State received the Bowl Alliance bid awarded to the 1995 ACC football champion.[24]
1996 Florida State
1997 Florida State
1998 Florida State
Georgia Tech
Florida State received the Bowl Championship Series bid awarded to each of the top 2 teams in the national rankings.[24]
1999 Florida State Florida State won their second National Championship that season, beating Michael Vick and Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl
2000 Florida State Florida State received the Bowl Championship Series bid awarded to each of the top 2 teams in the national rankings.
2001 Maryland Maryland became the first team other than Florida State to win the outright conference championship since FSU joined the ACC.
2002 Florida State
2003 Florida State
2004 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech and Miami joined the ACC, which then had 11 teams.[25]
2005 Florida State This was the first year of the ACC Championship Game. Florida State defeated Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech.[18]
2006 Wake Forest Wake Forest defeated Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech.[26]
2007 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech defeated Atlantic Division champion Boston College.[21]
2008 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech defeated Atlantic Division champion Boston College.[22]
2009 Vacated Georgia Tech defeated Atlantic Division champion Clemson in the championship game, but the NCAA later vacated their win.[27]
2010 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech defeated Atlantic Division champion Florida State.
2011 Clemson Clemson defeated Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech.
2012 Florida State Florida State defeated Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech.
2013 Florida State Florida State defeated Coastal Division champion Duke, followed by a victory over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game for the Seminoles' third title. Pittsburgh and Syracuse joined the ACC, bringing it to a total of 14 teams. Notre Dame also joined the ACC, competing for the championship in every sport but football, in which they would play five games against ACC opponents. This brought the conference to fifteen teams.
2014 Florida State Florida State defeated Coastal Division champion Georgia Tech. Florida State lost to Oregon in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game of the inaugural College Football Playoff.
2015 Clemson Clemson defeated Coastal Division champion North Carolina. Clemson defeated Oklahoma in the 2015 Orange Bowl of the College Football Playoff. Clemson moved on to play for the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship against Alabama, losing 45 to 40.
2016 Clemson Clemson defeated Coastal Division champion Virginia Tech and made the College Football Playoff as the #2 seed. They would go on to defeat Ohio State 31-0 in the Fiesta Bowl and Alabama 35-31 in the CFP National Championship Game.
2017 Clemson Clemson defeated Coastal Division champion Miami. Clemson lost in the playoff semi-finals with a 24-6 loss to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
2018 Clemson Clemson defeated Coastal Division champion Pitt. They would go on to beat Notre Dame in the CFP Cotton Bowl 30-3, then would win over Alabama 44-16 in the CFP National Championship. It would be the Tigers 2nd championship in 3 years and 3rd overall national championship. The modern era's first 15-0 team.

Championships by schoolEdit

School Championships Years
Clemson 18 1956, 1958, 1959, 1965*, 1966, 1967, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1991, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Florida State 15 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995*, 1996, 1997, 1998*, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2012, 2013, 2014
Maryland 9 1953*, 1955*, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1983, 1984, 1985, 2001
Duke 7 1953*, 1954, 1955*, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1989*
NC State 7 1957, 1963*, 1964, 1965*, 1968, 1973, 1979
North Carolina 5 1963*, 1971, 1972, 1977, 1980
Virginia Tech 4 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010
Georgia Tech 2 1990, 1998*, 2009**
Virginia 2 1989*, 1995*
Wake Forest 2 1970, 2006
South Carolina 1 1969
Boston College 0
Louisville 0
Miami (FL) 0
Pittsburgh 0
Syracuse 0

* Co-champions.

** Georgia Tech was forced to vacate the 2009 ACC Championship in response to NCAA violations.

Conference rivalriesEdit

Team Team Rivalry Name Trophy
Boston College Clemson Battle for the Leather Helmet O'Rourke–McFadden Trophy
Boston College Syracuse Boston College–Syracuse football rivalry The Orange Eagle (not exclusive to football)
Boston College Virginia Tech Boston College–Virginia Tech football rivalry
Clemson Florida State Clemson–Florida State rivalry
Clemson Georgia Tech Clemson–Georgia Tech football rivalry
Clemson North Carolina State Textile Bowl Textile Bowl Trophy
Duke North Carolina Carolina–Duke rivalry Victory Bell
Florida State Miami (FL) Miami–Florida State football rivalry
Florida State Virginia Jefferson–Eppes Trophy
Georgia Tech Virginia Tech Battle of the Techs
Miami (FL) Virginia Tech Miami–Virginia Tech football rivalry
North Carolina North Carolina State North Carolina–NC State football rivalry
North Carolina Virginia South's Oldest Rivalry
North Carolina Wake Forest North Carolina–Wake Forest rivalry
Pittsburgh Syracuse Pittsburgh–Syracuse football rivalry
Virginia Virginia Tech Virginia–Virginia Tech rivalry Commonwealth Cup

Non-conference rivalriesEdit

ACC Team Opponent Rivalry Name Trophy
Boston College Notre Dame Holy War Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl/Ireland Trophy
Boston College UMass Boston College–UMass football rivalry
Boston College Holy Cross Boston College–Holy Cross football rivalry
Clemson Georgia Clemson–Georgia football rivalry
Clemson South Carolina The Palmetto Bowl The Hardee's Trophy (retired after 2014)
The Palmetto Trophy (2015 - present)
Florida State Florida Florida–Florida State football rivalry The Governor's Cup
Georgia Tech Auburn Auburn–Georgia Tech football rivalry
Georgia Tech Georgia Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate The Governor's Cup
Louisville Cincinnati The Keg of Nails
Louisville Kentucky Kentucky–Louisville rivalry Governor's Cup
Louisville Memphis Louisville–Memphis rivalry
Miami (FL) Florida Florida–Miami football rivalry Seminole War Canoe Trophy[1]
North Carolina State East Carolina East Carolina–NC State rivalry The Victory Barrel
North Carolina State South Carolina NC State–South Carolina football rivalry
Pittsburgh Cincinnati River City Rivalry Paddlewheel Trophy
Pittsburgh Notre Dame Notre Dame–Pittsburgh football rivalry
Pittsburgh Penn State Penn State–Pittsburgh football rivalry
Pittsburgh West Virginia Backyard Brawl
Syracuse Colgate (former) Colgate–Syracuse football rivalry
Syracuse Penn State Penn State–Syracuse football rivalry
Syracuse West Virginia Syracuse–West Virginia football rivalry The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy
Virginia Maryland Maryland–Virginia football rivalry
Virginia Tech West Virginia Virginia Tech–West Virginia football rivalry Black Diamond Trophy
  • Florida, Florida State, & Miami (FL) also compete in a three-way rivalry for the Florida Cup.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Eagles' move just another BCS-windle Brendan Hall, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, October 24, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2007.
  2. ^[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b c d e About the ACC Archived 2012-10-14 at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, Accessed April 25, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Powell, Adam K. Border Wars: The First Fifty Years of Atlantic Coast Conference Football. Scarecrow Press, 2004. "Introduction", Page xvi.
  5. ^ NCAA College Football Division 1A Past Champions Accessed April 25, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Carolina history Archived 2009-04-08 at the Wayback Machine University of South Carolina Athletics department, Accessed April 25, 2008.
  7. ^ Georgia Tech Football History Database Accessed April 26, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Georgia Tech Football Year-By-Year Georgia Tech Athletics Department, Accessed April 26, 2008.
  9. ^ 2006 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football media guide (PDF) Georgia Tech Athletics Department, Accessed April 26, 2008. Page 21.
  10. ^ a b Clemson University placed on NCAA probation[permanent dead link] The NCAA, November 22, 1982. Accessed April 26, 2008.
  11. ^ a b "ACC Year by Year: 1983 (PDF)" (PDF), 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Media Guide, Atlantic Coast Conference: Page 112, 2007, retrieved 2008-01-13
  12. ^ a b Member Institutions Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, Accessed April 26, 2008.
  13. ^ a b Florida State football history Database Accessed April 26, 2008.
  14. ^ Miami, Virginia Tech quietly join ACC The Associated Press, July 2, 2004. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  15. ^ Tech topples 'Canes to win ACC championship Archived 2007-08-07 at the Wayback Machine Jimmy Robertson, The Newspaper. December 4, 2004. Accessed April 25, 2008.
  16. ^ After Ugly Breakup, BC Hopes for Fast Start in ACC Mark Schlabach, The Washington Post.[August 10, 2005; Page E04. Accessed March 13, 2008.
  17. ^ ACC Unveils Future League Seal, Divisional Names Archived 2013-05-25 at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, October 18, 2004. Accessed March 14, 2008.
  18. ^ a b Florida State pulls off VaTech upset, clinches BCS berth The Associated Press,, December 4, 2005. Accessed December 17, 2007.
  19. ^ 4th Qtr Play-by-Play, December 3, 2005. Accessed December 23, 2007.
  20. ^ Elias Says ..., December 3, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.
  21. ^ a b Hokies ride Glennon's arm, Taylor's legs to ACC crown, December 1, 2007. Accessed December 10, 2007.
  22. ^ a b The Associated Press. "Virginia Tech takes down BC, headed to Orange Bowl again", December 6, 2008. Accessed December 6, 2008.
  23. ^ a b ACC Announces Future Sites for Football Championship Game Archived 2008-05-13 at the Wayback Machine The Atlantic Coast Conference, December 12, 2007. Accessed December 12, 2007.
  24. ^ a b c d e f "ACC Champions" (PDF), 2007 Atlantic Coast Conference Media Guide (PDF), Atlantic Coast Conference: Page 93, 2007, retrieved 2008-01-13
  25. ^ ACC invites Miami, Va. Tech Archived 2009-07-21 at Tim Candon, The Daily Tar Heel, June 26, 2003. Accessed December 6, 2007.
  26. ^ Wake Forest Claims First ACC Title Since 1970 Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine The Associated Press, December 2, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2008.
  27. ^ NCAA places Georgia Tech on probation July 14, 2011. Accessed July 14, 2011.