The Ghost of Seasons Past recalls past ACC seasons
Over on Crystal Ball Run we are dedicating this week to the ACC as we kick off our conference previews. As we touch on each conference I am going to be sharing a retrospective on each conference to help get things started. In addition to looking back at the previous season we will also take a look at what happened in the conference five, 15, 20 50 years ago etc.
Here is the first part of today’s post with the ACC. Read the full post here.
Last Year in the ACC
Conference Champion: Clemson (10-4, 6-2)
We went in to last season with many expecting Florida State to be the team to beat but the Clemson Tigers were the team who got off to a fast start. The Tigers faltered late in the season but managed to defeat the Seminoles and Virginia Tech twice on their way to an Orange Bowl. Clemson was routed in the Orange Bowl by West Virginia. The ACC’s entire postseason was poor, finishing 2-6, with Florida State and North Carolina State picking up the only victories.
Tajh Boyd led the ACC in passing with 3,828 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. Receiver Sammy Watkins led the Tigers and ACC with 12 touchdown receptions and his 1,219 receiving yards were second in the conference. On defense Andre Branch led the conference in tackles for loss with 17 and in sacks with 10 but it was Boston College’s Luke Kuechly who was the Defensive Player of the Year. Kuechly led the ACC with 191 tackles (nobody else had more than 126), and that includes an astounding 102 solo tackles (nobody else had more than 65).
Virginia Tech running back David Wilson was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and ACC Player of the Year after rushing for 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns and leading the ACC in yards from scrimmage with 1,838 total yards. We saw a rise at Virginia under second-year head coach Mike London, the ACC’s Coach of the Year. Virginia made their first bowl trip and first winning season since the 2007 season.
Of course, the story of the conference may have been shaping up off the field as conference realignment continued to provide rumor mills with plenty of energy. The ACC officially announced they would be adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse, both from the Big East, by 2014 depending on when they can work their way out of the Big East.
5 Years Ago in the ACC
2007 Conference Champion: Virginia Tech (11-3, 7-1)
It was not a particularly strong season for the ACC but they did finish the year with a pair of teams in the final AP Top 25. Virginia Tech took the conference crown but fell short against Kansas (KANSAS!) in the Orange Bowl as the Jayhawks were having a bit of a magical run that season. Elsewhere the rest of the conference struggled in the postseason with the ACC going 2-6.
Florida State lost to Kentucky. Maryland lost to Oregon State. Georgia Tech was blown away by Fresno State. Virginia and Clemson each took three-point losses but Wake Forest and Boston College managed to pick up bowl wins.
But this was the year of Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan. The ACC Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year passed for 4,507 yards (more than 1,500 yards more than Clemson’s Cullen Harper, second in the ACC) and led the conference with 31 touchdowns. Ryan was the reason Boston College was relevant in 2007, even climbing to as high as number two in the polls in October. The Eagles started the season outside the top 25 but a 3-0 ACC record and some key losses around the nation helped Boston College move up to No. 14 and the rise up continued with a 27-14 win at Notre Dame, moving them to second in the AP poll. A 14-10 victory against the Hokies in Blacksburg the following week made Boston College the team to beat but Florida State clipped their wings in Boston with a 27-17 defeat.
Virginia head coach Al Groh was named the ACC Coach of the Year after the Cavaliers finished the season with a 9-4 record and returning the program to the postseason after a losing season in 2006. Virginia defensive lineman Chris Long, son of Howie, would go on to have a standout season and earned Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Continue reading on Crystal Ball Run for a look at the ACC 20 years ago and 50 years ago.