In 2004, the ACC was strengthened by the additions of Miami and Virginia Tech. The Hokies were consistently a solid team in their own right, but in reality, this was all about the Canes. ACC leaders envisioned two annual matchups: a regular season game between Miami and Florida State, and an almost preordained rematch in the ACC Championship game.
But, for a variety of reasons, that hasn’t materialized. For one, the Seminoles struggled some at the end of the Bobby Bowden era, often times ending the season near .500. Secondly, Miami went on a serious decline. Larry Coker won a national title with other coaches’ players and never was able to develop his own particularly well. Then, when Randy Shannon took over, it didn’t get any better. Do the names Kirby Freeman, Kyle Wright and Leon Williams ring a bell?
As a result, the Noles and Canes haven’t really played a game as ACC foes that has national title implications.
That will change tonight.
With both teams entering the game undefeated, the winner will still have a good chance of ending up in the BCS National Championship game. It will take a loss by one of the top two teams in the country, but ultimately, it’s possible. Even the loser of this game has something to play for. The Noles and Canes are looking like they’ll each win their division and play for the conference title and a guaranteed birth in a BCS bowl.
It’s something the conference has been waiting for since 2004.