The 2014 ACC regular season was, in reality, just a waiting game to see who would face Florida State in the conference championship. Along the way however, there were some memorable games that captured the attention of the entire country. Without further adieu, let's go back a year and see all the wackiness that unfolded!
5) Georgia Tech vs Virginia Tech (GT 27-24)
This early season matchup between the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the Virginia Tech Hokies was a good one as no team could pull away with the lead. In fact, Georgia Tech was fortunate to still be in the game after being out-gained by over 40 yards and boasting a pitiful 4 for 12 on third down conversions compared to Virginia Tech's 8 for 12.
What kept the Yellow Jackets in the game was their ability to pick off Hokie QB Michael Brewer three times. The last two of them came in pivotal the fourth quarter. The first of the two was a pick-six ran back by Paul Davis to take a 17-16 lead with a little over 13 minutes in the game.
The second of the two picks came on the Virginia Tech 25-yard line. The culprit this time was defensive back P.J. Davis. After this interception in Hokie territory, all Georgia Tech needed to do was run down the clock and kick the game winning field goal. With three seconds on the clock, Yellow Jacket kicker Harrison Butker came out and nailed the game winner as time expired. Georgia Tech would improve to 4-0 with this nail-biting victory, while Virginia Tech would fall to 2-2.
4) #3 Florida State vs Miami (FSU 30-26)
The Miami Hurricanes were on a three-game winning streak coming into their annual rivalry game with the hated Florida State Seminoles. FSU was ranked #3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and was 9-0 at the time.
The Hurricanes jumped on the 'Noles fast as they took a 23-10 lead into halftime. In the second half, however, the Hurricane offense disappeared and could only muster a field goal. The defining moment of the game came with a little less than five minutes in the third quarter on third down and goal. Down 23-10, Jameis Winston dropped back and had his passed deflected by Hurricane linebacker Tyriq McCord. Unfortunately for the 'Canes, the ball went right to FSU running back Karlos Williams and he scored a touchdown to make it 23-17 Miami.
The game would remain a battle of field goals until FSU finally broke through and took a 30-26 lead on Dalvin Cook's touchdown run with 3:05 left in the game. With their team trailing for the first time all night, many Miami fans saw the 3:05 on the clock as a sign of a miracle to come. Could freshman QB Brad Kaaya top off an already great performance with a comeback?
Kaaya led Miami to FSU's 43-yard line before being picked off by Jalen Ramsey on fourth down to end the game. It was a valiant effort for the true freshman, who had thrown for two touchdowns and 316 yards with just that lone pick.
It was a tough loss for Miami to stomach after virtually leading the entire game. They would fall to 6-4 and their chances of winning the ACC Coastal division had been dashed. As for Florida State, they escaped (yet again) and went to 10-0 with the ACC Atlantic all but wrapped up. This was their fifth consecutive win over Miami.
3) #24 Louisville vs Notre Dame (LOU 31-28)
After suffering a drubbing at the hands of Arizona State and losing a heartbreaker at home to Northwestern, Notre Dame figured it had a good shot at a 6-3 Louisville squad coming into South Bend.
The Cardinals led most of the game thanks to two rushing touchdowns from QB Reggie Bonnafon and one from running back Brandon Radcliff. Notre Dame, however, did all it could to fight back and avoid another heartbreaking loss.
Down 31-28 with less than five minutes in the game, Notre Dame started with the ball on their own 20-yard line and drove 70 yards down to Louisville's 10-yard line. After being denied from the end zone three times, the Fighting Irish went for the game-tying field goal from 32 yards out with less than a minute remaining in the game. Kicker Kyle Brindza walked onto the field and looked to redeem himself after missing a crucial field goal last week in a 43-40 loss to Northwestern in overtime.
The ball was snapped and Brindza kicked it. Even though it was a different team, it was the same result. Brindza's kick went wide right and the Louisville sideline erupted in cheers. Notre Dame had lost its second consecutive home games by means of a missed field goal.
The Fighting Irish would fall to 7-4, while Louisville continued a respectable first year of ACC play with an 8-4 (4-2) record.
2) #22 Clemson vs #1 Florida State (FSU 23-17)
Clemson had an incredible opportunity to win this game after FSU's Jameis Winston was suspended for saying a profane phrase in the student union. Winston still suited up to play anyways for some reason, and head coach Jimbo Fisher scolded him and told him to go back in the locker room and change. Without Winston, FSU's offense was not the same. Clemson feasted on redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Maguire as they sacked him four times and hurried him four times as well.
Maguire's QBR in the game was 28.9, yet the game remained close. After Clemson's Jadar Johnson picked off Maguire at the FSU 25-yard line with a little over two minutes to go in the game, all Clemson had to do was run the ball and kick a field goal. But it was not that simple.
On the second play from scrimmage, Clemson running back C.J. Davidson fumbled and FSU recovered it. A golden opportunity to upset the #1 team in the country on the road had been lost. The game would go to overtime and Clemson did not score after failing to convert on fourth down and one. Behind the legs of Karlos Williams, FSU needed two plays to score the game-winning touchdown and escape with the win.
FSU improved to 3-0 and would get Jameis back the very next week. Many even said that if FSU had lost to Clemson if would not have hurt them in the playoff because Jameis did not play. Anyways, Clemson would fall to 1-2 and realized early that their ACC Atlantic dreams had been dashed.
1) #5 Notre Dame vs #2 Florida State (FSU 31-27)
Coming in at No.1 is a game that I will never forget as long as I live. It was a highly anticipated Top 5 matchup in Tallahassee that could have potentially been FSU's first loss in two seasons. Both teams were 6-0, and the college football playoff implications were at an all-time high.
The game was close throughout. Apart from a few ties, Notre Dame was leading for most of the game. As usual though, FSU mustered up some fourth quarter magic and scored a touchdown to take a 31-27 lead with under eight minutes to play. After punting it back to FSU and getting a stop, Notre Dame had one final opportunity to knock off the Seminoles with less than three minutes in the game.
Starting around midfield, Notre Dame plowed through FSU's defense all the way to the 8-yard line with less than 30 seconds to go. After three plays, it was fourth down and goal from the FSU 2-yard line. One of the most infamous plays of 2014 was about to occur.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson took the snap and rolled out to his right and hit a wide open Corey Robinson for the go-ahead score! I remember being in my dorm room with one of my best friends (and fellow writing colleague) R.J. Walsh and going absolutely nuts when the Fighting Irish scored. It was pandaemonium, it was exhilarating, it was offensive pass interference! Wait, what!?
That's right. Apparently there was offensive pass interference on the play as one of the Notre Dame receivers "picked" or got in the way of one of the FSU defenders (keep in mind this is a very common play in college football). I could not believe the call and I was furious. Notre Dame would get another shot on 4th and 18, but Golson threw a pick to end the game.
I cannot say in this article the words I said after that game, but I can assure you I was furious and that my voice could be heard from across the hall. It did not help either that this game was the same night that my Florida Gators lost an embarrassing homecoming game to Missouri 42-13. Regardless, the game was over and FSU escaped again with the victory (that has been quite the trend in this article).
Notre Dame would fall to 6-1 and their season would eventually fall to shambles. Florida State would improve to 7-0 and keep their winning streak alive yet again.
Duke vs #25 Georgia Tech (Duke 31-25), North Carolina vs Virginia (UNC 28-27), Boston College vs #3 Florida State (FSU 20-17)
I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 article! Stay tuned for my next article covering the Florida Gator baseball game vs the Virginia Cavaliers in the College World Series!
*All stats accredited to ESPN.com & clemsontigers.com
*All pictures accredited to nytimes.com, flnewsfeed.com, ndinsider.com, postandcourier.com, & ftw.usatoday.com