2005 ACC Championship Game
The 2005 Dr. Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship Game was the inaugural contest of the game. It was a regular-season ending American college football contest at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Florida State Seminoles. The game decided the winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference football championship. Florida State University (FSU) defeated Virginia Tech 27–22 in a game characterized by penalties, defense, and a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Virginia Tech. The game was the final contest of the regular season for the two teams, as bowl games are not considered part of the regular season. In addition, the contest marked the inaugural championship game for the recently expanded conference.
Virginia Tech entered the 2005 season having won the 2004 ACC Championship, the last to be awarded without playing a championship game at the end of the season. Tech won its first eight games and appeared to be on course to have an untroubled run to the ACC Championship Game. But against the fifth-ranked Miami Hurricanes, Tech suffered its first defeat of the season, losing 27–7 on November 5. Because each team had one ACC loss (Miami had previously lost to Florida State) and the Hurricanes had the tie-breaking head-to-head win, Miami had the lead in the Coastal Division. But Miami later lost a second ACC game to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, and the Hurricanes were knocked out of contention for the Coastal Division title in favor of the Hokies, who lost only to Miami.
Florida State earned its bid to the ACC Championship game by fighting through an Atlantic Division schedule that included several nationally-ranked teams. After defeating ninth-ranked Miami in their opening contest, the Seminoles won their next four games before losing at Virginia in a close match. Additional losses to North Carolina State and Clemson at the end of the season almost eliminated the Seminoles from contention for a spot in the championship game, but losses by Clemson and the other Atlantic Division leaders gave the Seminoles a second chance and set up an ACC Championship game between Florida State and Virginia Tech. The two teams had previously played in the 2000 National Championship Game, and the rematch served as a point of public interest.
The first two quarters of the game were characterized by defense and penalties that stifled both teams' offenses. In the second half, Florida State took advantage of a punt return for a touchdown to begin a third-quarter surge. Although Virginia Tech made a late-game comeback, Florida State ran out the clock and secured a 27–22 victory. Florida State's win earned it the 2005 ACC Championship and a bid to the 2006 Orange Bowl against Penn State. Virginia Tech was awarded a bid to the 2006 Gator Bowl against Louisville. Following that game, Tech quarterback Marcus Vick was released from the team due to repeated violations of team rules and several legal infractions.
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“In the game of love, the losers are more celebrated than the winners.”
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