The ACC regular season is now finished and championship Saturday is on the way. The Clemson Tigers will meet the Virginia Cavaliers for the Atlantic Coast Championship at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte N.C Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 in the evening. This will be the eleventh straight year the championship game will be played in prime time. In each of the last six seasons, the winner of this game has gone on to play in the College Football Playoff. A lot is riding on this game for both teams. There were other things that happened on the final weekend of league play.
For Boston College and North Carolina, it came down to the final weekend for either become bowl eligible or be left at home watching others play. Both teams decided it was better to play in one than watch one. Both had to win on the road to get in and that just what both teams did. The Eagles traveled to Pittsburgh last Saturday to take on the Panthers. They won behind junior running back A.J. Dillon who ran for 178 yards and a score. He was named Running back of the Week for the fifth time this season.
Boston College came away with a road win in the league and their sixth overall, 26-19 over the Panthers. They did it on the ground as they ran for a total of 264 yards for the game in beating Pittsburgh for the first time in 21 years. This was not just any defense that BC ran through, Pittsburgh had been ranked sixth in the country in run defense giving up 92.6 yards a game. But the Eagles offensive line won the battle at the point of attack, led by OG Zion Johnson, who was named Offensive Lineman of the Week for the third time this year. The Eagles could be headed to their sixth bowl game in the last seven seasons. A tip of the helmet to the Eagles defense who at times this year has struggled to stop anyone. They forced four turnovers in the game and may have saved their best performance for when it really mattered. But as always, there are two sides to any story, and for Boston College that flip side was that their head coach Steve Addazio will not get the chance to coach his team in a bowl game. On Sunday, he was relieved of his duties as the head coach after going 43-43 in the ACC at BC.
The Tar Heels took on in-state rival North Carolina State and won 41-10 last Saturday night and came away with their sixth win overall. It’s the first time North Carolina could be bowling since 2016 and for head coach Mack Brown, this could be his 22nd bowl game. Only Nick Saban has coached in more (26). Freshman QB Sam Howell was 23-for-33 for 401 yards, three touchdowns, and one pick. The Tar Heels scored four times in the third quarter to put the game away. For Howell, the 35 TD passes are the second most in ACC history and the most by a true freshman. He ranks fourth in the country with the 35 touchdowns passes and has only thrown seven interceptions. His total number of TDs matches the total put up by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016. Howell’s outing earned him ACC Rookie of the Week for the sixth time this year.
Now for the championship game. Virginia is heading to a bowl game for the third straight season. It’s the longest such streak since going to four in a row between 2002-05. The Cavaliers will be making their first appearance in the championship game. They will be meeting a team that been to this point several times. Clemson will be in the title game for the fifth straight time and seventh overall. The Tigers have won the last four championship games. This will be the 48th meeting between the two schools with Clemson holding a 38-8-1 advantage. The two teams have not met since 2013 when the Tigers went on the road and won handily 59-10. Virginia has not beaten Clemson since a 30-10 win back in 2004.
The Atlantic Division has won 10 out of the last 14 titles games including the last eight in a row. Clemson has the most titles with five. RB Travis Etienne broke league marks for career touchdowns with 57 and rushing scores with 53. He rushed for two TDs in the Tigers 38-3 rout of South Carolina last week.
We hope you have enjoyed the ACC news and notes for 2019 and we look forward to being back in 2020 with more from the Atlantic Coast Conference.
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