CFB Campus Tour: ACC Experience Part I

by Shayler
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In this first installment of this all conferences experience series, our game traveler, Mike (@CFBcampustour) will be answering questions focusing on the “best of” categories for each conference. 

He’s been fortunate to visit all 130 FBS schools and attend games at 88 of them since 2017. Since he hasn’t seen a game at all 130 schools, his opinion is only partially informed. Still, he’s here to provide the best answers he can based on his experiences to date.

The first conference up is the ACC. To date, he’s witnessed a game at 11 of the 14 ACC schools. Here’s the breakdown:

Schools I’ve attended games at:

Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami (FL), NC State, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Schools still needed:

Duke, Florida State, North Carolina

The ACC plays a lot of Thursday and Friday night games, so it’s allowed me to go to a game at nearly every school. I hope to knock out the last three schools very soon. Let’s get into the questions:

What is the best game ACC game you’ve witnessed?

Nov. 29, 2019 – No. 24 Virginia Tech at Virginia. It was dubbed the “biggest game in Scott Stadium history” and the stakes could not have been higher. Besides playing for the Commonwealth Cup (their rivalry trophy), the ACC Coastal was also up for grabs. With Virginia Tech having won 15 straight versus Virginia, the Hoos needed a special performance to end their losing streak.

The man for the job was quarterback Bryce Perkins. Of the 492 total yards gained on offense by Virginia, Perkins accounted for 475 of those. He was 20 of 33 for 311 yards passing, along with 19 rushes for 164 yards and three total touchdowns.

Even with Perkins’ heroic effort, Virginia Tech was only down three with the ball and 1:23 remaining. Virginia defensive end Mandy Alonso came up with the strip sack on Hokies’ quarterback Hendon Hooker and Eli Hanback jumped on the loose ball in the end zone for the game-sealing touchdown as Virginia won, 39-30.

That one play not only broke the Cavaliers’ 15-game losing streak to Virginia Tech, but it clinched the Coastal division and a first-ever appearance in the ACC Championship against Clemson. I’ve never seen a fan base so happy and relieved all at the same time. For years, they’d been little brother to the Hokies and they finally brought the Commonwealth Cup back to Charlottesville.

Which school has the best stadium?

Lane Stadium/Virginia Tech. Picking which stadium is the “best” is really a matter of personal preference. If you like historic venues, you have to go with Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium. For modern technology/amenities, you can’t beat Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. 

If your thing is uniqueness, you might go for the Carrier Dome at Syracuse. It’s the only domed on-campus stadium in the FBS. And if you’re looking for consistent big-time football, look no further than Death Valley at Clemson.

My choice for the “best” stadium in the ACC is Lane Stadium. When you say you like the “feel” or “vibe” of a stadium, it’s something that will only hit you in person. The steep bleachers on each sideline makes it feel cavernous and crowd noise rattles around inside those barriers. The fans are very knowledgeable and into the game as well.

The “Enter Sandman” intro right before kickoff might be the best pregame ritual in all of college football. 66,000 people bouncing to Metallica, fireworks exploding and the team sprinting on the field is quite a sight. It gave me goosebumps. Picking the best ACC stadium is a tough call, but my choice is Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech.

Which school has the friendliest fans?

Louisville. This is another subjective category, because who you meet will vary from game to game and stadium to stadium. I remember standing outside of Cardinal Stadium before the game and yelling towards security to open the gates already. The stadium policy was to open two hours prior to kickoff and I didn’t understand why they weren’t opening up. 

I asked a group of people near me what the deal was and they told me it was three hours before kickoff, not two. I didn’t even know what time zone I was in. We all had a good laugh and I started making friends from there.

Inside, I sat with a group of season ticket holders who’d been coming to Cardinal games for over 20 years. They told me about some local traditions, about the stadium expansion and how they were hopeful that the new coaching staff would turn the program back around. 

Walking through Norton’s Terrace above the south end zone was fun as well. This area gives you a bird’s eye view of the action, is in close proximity to concessions and common areas allow you engage with fans while not missing any game action.

As I said, your experience will vary depending on who you meet at particular game. Louisville, however, stands out to me as having the friendliest fans in the ACC.

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