The conference is 2-10 in BCS bowls since the Bowl Championship Series began in 1999. Worse, the two victories came at the hands of fellow ACC opponents (Miami 16, Florida State 14 in the '04 Orange, and FSU 46, Virginia Tech 29 in the '00 Sugar). Only one team, Clemson, finished in the top 50 in scoring offense in 2007 (the Tigers were 29th, averaging 33.1 points per game). The conference was 2-6 in bowl games last season and 12-15 overall against non-conference BCS opponents.
Conference bellwethers Florida State and Miami were both bad and embarrassing. The Seminoles suspended one-third of their players before their Music City Bowl loss due to an academic cheating scandal, while the Hurricanes were shut out 48-0 by Virginia in the finale of the 70-year-old Orange Bowl, the team's worst home loss since 1944.
There's Duke, of course, the losingest BCS program of the past decade.
And there's former Seminole linebacker Geno Hayes, who, in the days leading up to FSU's game at SEC opponent Florida, told writers, "Y'all put that down. Tim Tebow's going down this week. He's going down this week." Florida won 45-12.
Conference champion Virginia Tech lost by 41 points, albeit to eventual national champion LSU in Baton Rouge. The ACC Championship game in Jacksonville was the lowest-rated of the conference title games, while the announced crowd of 53,212 was at best two-thirds that amount.
Only the NFL is satisfied with the conference, as two of the top three picks on draft day were ACC products: Virginia defensive end Chris Long (2nd) and Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan (3rd). But they're gone. Long gone.
In the last three years, four of the six power conferences have placed a team in the national title game. Only the ACC and Big East have not, and the latter came within a West Virginia system failure versus Pitt last December of doing so.
The ACC remains outside national champion conversation, and non-conference road routs such as Virginia Tech's 48-7 loss at LSU and Miami's 51-13 whuppin' at Oklahoma only further instill that notion. Even Virginia, which went 7-2 in conference, lost by 20 at Wyoming.
Will things be any better for the ACC this season? Tune in August 30th when the Cavaliers host USC, a likely preseason No. 1 or 2.
Playing in January: Clemson
Tommy Bowden's team teases too often, with a 4-0 start last season and a 7-1 beginning in '06. Too often, though, the Tigers limp home, losing two of their final three in each of the past two years.
This season should be different. Clemson returns seven starters on both sides of the ball and the offense is loaded. Quarterback Cullen Harper (26 TDs, 7 INTs in '07) is the conference's leading returning passer, while tailback James Davis and wideout Aaron Curry are its leading returning rusher and receiver, respectively. Davis' backup, junior C.J. Spiller, averaged 7.3 yards per carry as a freshman.
Virginia Tech should coast in the Coastal Division, while in the Atlantic Division Boston College will survive the exodus of Matt Ryan (Chris Crane, a senior, gets the nod) better than you think and challenge Clemson for the top spot. Fellow Atlantic member Wake Forest has won 20 games the past two seasons. Junior quarterback Riley Skinner's 72.4 percent completion rate keeps the Demon Deacon defense on the sidelines.
1) Clemson coach Tommy, who has beaten his daddy four consecutive times.
2) Virginia Tech punter Brent (no relation), whose 88 punts last season were third-most in I-A.
3) Florida State coach Bobby, whose Seminoles are just 17-17 in the past 34 games.
CONFERENCE GAME OF THE YEAR
Nov. 1: Clemson at Boston College
The Tigers visit the Catholics on All Saints' Day, which could be bad karma. Then again karma is more of a Hindu concept. Clemson will likely espouse more of an ancient Babylonian philosophy, anyway, along the lines of "an eye for an eye", following last season's 20-17 heartbreaker in Death Valley. Matt Ryan threw a 43-yard TD pass with 1:46 remaining to dash any Tiger hopes of an ACC Championship game berth.
NON-CONFERENCE GAME OF THE YEAR
Aug. 30: Clemson vs. Alabama at Atlanta
The Tigers meet the Tide in prime time. Alabama didn't make Nick Saban the highest paid coach in the country so that he could have a loss before Labor Day, but Clemson can jump into the Top 10 with a season-opening victory.
OTHER KEY NON-CONFERENCE GAMES
Sept. 6: Miami at Florida
The Hurricanes have won the past six meetings in this infrequent intrastate series. Few will give Randy Shannon's team a chance to make it seven.
Sept. 27: Virginia Tech at Nebraska
Beamer's boys seek revenge against former LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pellini, now the Husker coach.
Nov. 8: Notre Dame at Boston College
Charlie Weis returns to the place that brought him a trio of Super Bowl rings and a botched belly-tuck operation. The Golden Eagles have taken five straight from the Irish.
The Fighting Irish have a promising future based on coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path, and program power.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
The Hype: How early is too early for sports scholarships?
There's a disturbing trend afoot in college football -- the offering of scholarships to middle school students. Despite never playing a down of high school football, Lindell Stone, an eighth-grader who already has an offer from UCLA, is the latest hot commodity. Michelle Beadle and Carolyn Manno discuss the absurdity of this trend and consider the possibility of scholarships for embryos
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.