Fans entered into the 2018 ACC footballs season with high hopes. Four teams were in the top 25. Florida State was expected to challenge Clemson for top spot in the Atlantic Division and Miami and Virginia Tech were to battle it out in the Coastal for rights to travel to Charlotte to participate in the championship game. 14 weeks later Clemson stands alone at the top of the ACC, undefeated, ranked second in the country and the Atlantic Division’s undisputed championship representative.
Things get a little murky in the Coastal division. Miami and Virginia Tech, who were considered frontrunners, stumbled to 4-4 conference records and Pitt, who was predicted to finish fifth in the division, will represent the Coastal in Saturday’s ACC Championship game. But if you’re ready to crown the Tigers before kick-off, Panthers head coach Pat Narduzzi says not so fast….
“I think anybody can beat anybody on any given day, period. We all know that. We can take all the measurables. We can talk about guys that are this tall and this tall, but the one thing I don’t think you can really measure is what’s inside that heart. Our kids are going to play with a lot of heart, with a lot of effort. Pittsburgh, we have a lot of toughness there, that’s what we expect to get out of our football team.”
Dabo Swinney echoed the same “anybody can be beaten” sentiment ahead of Saturday’s game.
“I don’t think there’s a game that we’ve played that we haven’t been a heavy favorite in. Same things that we did all the way back against Furman, same things. We just make it about us. We prepare every week. We respect every opponent. We know anybody can beat us. This very team has beaten us. I’m sure they’ve had that running on a loop all week (smiling).”
The David vs Goliath scene is set. Undefeated, top ranked Clemson will face unranked 7-5 Pittsburgh, but do the Panthers have a legitimate shot at pulling off the unthinkable? We’ll find out tonight.
- Matchup: No. 2 Clemson will face Pitt in the 2018 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Coastal Division Champion Pitt will be making its first appearance in the game, while Atlantic Division Champion Clemson returns for the fourth straight season and sixth time overall. Clemson is trying to become the first team in ACC history to win four consecutive league championship games.
- Prime Time Kickoff: The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ABC. This marks the 10th consecutive year the game has been televised in prime time.
- The winner of the conference championship game has gone on to play in the National Championship Game or compete in the College Football Playoff each of the previous fi ve seasons.
- Atlantic Division holds Championship Advantage: The Atlantic Division team has won nine of 13 previous Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship games, including the last seven in a row. Florida State (4) and Clemson (4) have the most titles. The last Coastal Division team to win the championship game was Virginia Tech in 2010.
- Perfect Record: Clemson, which clinched a spot in the game three weeks ago with a win over Boston College, fi nished a perfect 8-0 in the Atlantic Division. The Tigers have won the last three ACC titles.
- Previous Meetings: Clemson and Pitt have met just twice previously on the gridiron with the Panthers holding a 2-0 lead. Pitt beat Clemson, 34-3, in the 1977 Gator Bowl, and knocked off the Tigers, 43-42, in Clemson’s 2016 National Championship season.