5 Schools Most Responsible for Keeping the ACC on the Upswing

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5 Schools Most Responsible for Keeping the ACC on the Upswing
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Florida State and Jimbo Fisher authored a major breakthrough for the ACC in 2013.

2013 was a banner year for ACC football. The league expanded its East Coast footprint with a pair of additions in Pitt and Syracuse, replaced departing Maryland with an upgrade in the American Athletic Conference’s best team in Louisville and also had a huge breakthrough in on-field play.

Florida State won a thrilling BCS national title game over Auburn to give the ACC its first national title since 2000, when the Seminoles beat Virginia Tech.

And the Seminoles’ ACC Atlantic Division mate Clemson capped its second consecutive 11-win season with an Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State for the Tigers’ first BCS bowl win.

With two BCS bowl wins, the ACC matched its total from the previous 12 seasons combined.

Three years ago, the league was a prime candidate to be torn apart in the realignment frenzy, with speculation about members going to the Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC. In the end, Maryland was the only loss, and as college football enters the playoff era, the ACC is firmly positioned as one of the nation’s power-five conferences, thanks to a league-wide grant of rights that preserved stability.

But as the league solidifies its position among the nation’s best, it can’t afford a step back. Florida State and Clemson’s emergence, along with a scheduling alliance with Notre Dame that will put five ACC teams on the Fighting Irish’s schedule each season, will help assure its staying power.

Here are five schools that will carry that burden.

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