Clemson returns to Charlotte again for ACC football title game in the biggest game ever played in the city

By Richard Walker

When the ACC football championship game came to Charlotte in 2010, league officials have hoped for a day like Saturday’s matchup between No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson.

From a rankings standpoint, it’s the biggest college football game ever played in the city.

Starting with the University of North Carolina beating Virginia 32-5 on Nov. 16, 1895 at Latta Park, 165 major college football games have been played in Charlotte.

Clemson is making its 28th appearance in the city while also making a record seventh straight appearance in the ACC championship game. The Tigers first played a football game in Charlotte in 1900.

Clemson downed Virginia Tech in that Nov. 24 matchup and has a 21-5-1 all-time record in the city. The Tigers are 9-3 at games played at Latta Park and Wearn Field from 1900 to 1933, 6-1-1 at old Memorial Stadium from 1939 to 1954 and 6-1 at the NFL Carolina Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium.

The Tigers first played at Bank of America in 2006 when Clemson paid Temple to move its home date against the Tigers to Charlotte for a Thursday night contest; Clemson routed the overmatched Owls 63-9 in front of 30,246.

Clemson’s next game in Charlotte was its lone loss in the facility when South Florida beat the Tigers 31-26 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Clemson has since added five ACC championship game wins – 38-10 over Virginia Tech in 2011, 38-3 over Miami, Fla., in 2017, 42-10 over Pittsburgh in 2018 and 62-17 over Virginia in 2019.

The Tigers also have been a part of three of four highest-attended games at the venue – 74,514 in the 2015 ACC title game against North Carolina, 74,372 in the 2017 ACC title game against Miami and 73,675 in the 2011 ACC title game against Virginia Tech.

This year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the crowd will be limited to seven percent of capacity.

Notre Dame has never played in Charlotte although the Irish have played in the state 12 times previously. Notre Dame, which has an 9-4 all-time record in this state, had been slated to face Wake Forest at Bank of America Stadium this season on Sept. 26 but the pandemic forced a changing of league schedules and those teams didn’t meet this season.

Notre Dame did play at the University of North Carolina this season, beating the Tar Heels 31-17 on Nov. 27.

Notre Dame first came to the state in 1951 when it beat the Tar Heels 12-7. The Irish also have played games at Duke, Wake Forest and N.C. State. Notre Dame’s losses have come against North Carolina (1960 and 2008), Duke (1961) and N.C. State (2016).

Previous ACC football championship games with score, attendance and venue:

ACC football title games
2005 — Florida State 27, Virginia Tech 22 (72,749 at Jacksonville, Fla.)
2006 — Wake Forest 9, Georgia Tech 6 (62,850 at Jacksonville, Fla.)
2007 — Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 16 (53,212 at Jacksonville, Fla.)
2008 — Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 12 (27,360 at Tampa, Fla.)
2009 — Georgia Tech 39, Clemson 34 (42,815 at Tampa, Fla.)
2010 — Virginia Tech 44, Florida State 33 (72,379 at Charlotte)
2011 — Clemson 38, Virginia Tech 10 (73,675 at Charlotte)
2012 — Florida State 21, Georgia Tech 10 (64,778 at Charlotte)
2013 — Florida State 45, Duke 7 (67,694 at Charlotte)
2014 — Florida State 37, Georgia Tech 35 (64,808 at Charlotte)
2015 — Clemson 45, North Carolina 37 (74,514 at Charlotte)
2016 — Clemson 42, Virginia Tech 35 (50,628 at Orlando, Fla.)
2017 — Clemson 38, Miami 3 (74,372 at Charlotte)
2018 — Clemson 42, Pittsburgh 10 (67,784 at Charlotte)
2019 — Clemson 62, Virginia 17 (66,810 at Charlotte)