Clemson vs Maryland Used To Be ACC's Best Game

By Travis Patterson
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

This Saturday, Clemson and Maryland will meet for what looks like the final time. Maryland is leaving for the Big Ten at the end of this season, so unless they schedule an out of conference game, this will be the final time that the Tigers and the Terrapins will tangle. This year, Clemson looks like the far superior team with talented athletes all over the field, but Maryland will want this one just as badly as the Tigers do. Unfortunately for Maryland, the injury bug has bitten them for the second straight season, reassuring that Randy Edsall cannot catch a break in College Park, MD. There will be a lot of college football fans who will not pay close attention to this game because Clemson should flex their muscles against the Terrapins, but this game used to be the best rivalry in the ACC. Before Florida State joined the league in 1992, it was Clemson and Maryland that were the two best teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, fueling an intense rivalry that had championship implications every time these two teams met.

Maryland won the ACC title in 1953 and 1955 before Clemson came in and started to steal their thunder. Clemson coach Frank Howard led the Tigers to the 1956, 1958 and 1959 ACC championships. It was at this time when the rivalry was born, but it really reached its fever pitch in the 1980’s. Both Clemson and Maryland were always contending for ACC championships at that time, and it is reflected by the number of conference championships that each of the programs captured. The Tigers won the 1981 and 1982 ACC championship before Maryland strung together some title runs of their own. Bobby Ross led the Terrapins to the next three ACC titles (1983, 1984, 1985), and established his team as one of the premier football programs in the country. Behind players like Willie Joyner, Alvin Blount, Boomer Esiason and Greg Hill, Maryland University became more than just a basketball school.

However, after a few down years, Danny Ford had the Tigers right back at the top of the ACC, winning the 1986, 1987 and 1988 conference championships. Rodney Williams and Terry Allen were the two focal points of an option attack that proved to be unstoppable in the late 80’s. This decade was a constant back-and-forth battle for the ACC crown between Clemson and Maryland, and it is remarkable that in eight seasons, it was either Clemson or Maryland who won the ACC. It was success alone that sparked this rivalry, which is one of the reasons why it has taken a back seat to other rivalry games as of late. Maryland has only won one ACC championship (2001) since the 1985 season, and do not look to be heading that way this year either. Meanwhile, Clemson won the conference in 2011, which was their first time winning it since 1991. Clemson is back where the program used to be, but Maryland is still struggling to find the magic that their program has lost in the last decade.

Clemson holds the all-time lead in the series with a 33-26-2 advantage, including wins in the last three where they outscored the Terps 132-62. Historically, it has been a close rivalry, but lately the Clemson offense has had its way with Maryland. The Terrapins are going to be without their starting quarterback and their two best wide receivers for the game on Saturday, which is why the game will eventually turn into a Clemson blowout. Sure, it hasn’t been the best of games during the past 20 years, but in the 1980’s, this was the best game the conference had to offer. So, sit back and enjoy Clemson vs Maryland one last time.

Travis Patterson. Writer For ACC  Follow on Twitter @tpat20. 

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