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Clemson Falls In Title Game, ACC Rises In Stature

Tigers Battle 'Bama to the Brink

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

After the blowouts in the two semi-final games, I had low expectations heading into the national championship game.  Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide looked dominant towards the end of the season.  Dabo Swinney had his Clemson Tigers on the brink of history.  Clemson had the chance to finish 15-0.  Clemson was a little less than a touchdown underdog heading into the contest, and the Tigers almost pulled the upset.  Clemson put up 550 yards on the vaunted Alabama defense, and led in almost every statistical category. Clemson QB.  Deshaun Watson threw for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. Clemson sacked Alabama QB 5 times, and "held" Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry to 158 yards.The game was thrilling, and while 'Bama won 45-40, Clemson showed the world how great the A.C.C. can be.

The A.C.C. all season has been considered the weakest of all power five conferences. S.E.C. fatigue has settled in nationally, and many talking heads had the Big 10 as the new king of the hill. I have heard arguments that the Pac 12, even the Big 12 have passed the S.E.C. in overall quality. The one conference that never got mentioned as a successor to the S.E.C. crown was the A.C.C..  Florida State and Clemson have represented the conference in 2 of the last three national championship games.  Florida State won a title in 2013, and made the playoffs in 2014.  The conference is still struggling for respect on the national level.  The A.C.C. is clearly on that path, and building to a brighter future.  The Coastal division has the biggest chance to grow next season with all the new talent being hired.

Clemson had a chance to defeat Goliath last night, and fell just short. Alabama is in full dynasty mode, winning 4 out the last 7 national championships. It would have been a tremendous statement for not only Clemson, but the A.C.C., to win. The good news for A.C.C. fans is that competition breeds success.  The Atlantic already has championship momentum, imagine when Virginia Tech and Miami get back to their winning ways.  It won't happen overnight, but the S.E.C. domination didn't happen overnight either.  The 2015 season is in the books, and I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for the A.C.C. and Virginia Tech.