This year's Florida State-Miami matchup delivered all the way to the end
From top to bottom, the ACC was the best conference in college football during the 2017 season. The ACC boasts the defending national champion and No. 1 seed in the upcoming College Football Playoff, Clemson, as well as the 2016 Heisman winner and '17 Heisman finalist, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.
There was much more to the ACC in the past season than Clemson and Jackson, though.
Teams such as NC State, Wake Forest and Boston College emerged to deliver marquee moments in the 2017 ACC schedule. Miami began its return to the national stage with a series of thrilling finishes. Even teams that finished out of the bowl picture, like Syracuse and Pittsburgh, impacted the landscape.
15 Best ACC Games of 2017 Regular Season
15. North Carolina 34, Pitt 31 — Nov. 9
Neither North Carolina nor Pitt had the kind of season either would have liked in 2017. The Tar Heels were out of the bowl picture once the Panthers arrived on the schedule, and Pitt's postseason aspirations depended on a strong November. Both played this Thursday night contest like the stakes could not be higher.
Darrin Hall rushed for four touchdowns for Pitt, which wore its amazing throwback uniforms. But despite Hall's play and the Panthers' excellent attire, Anthony Ratliff-Williams stole the show. He passed for one touchdown and caught another in a Tar Heels win.
14. Georgia Tech 28, Virginia Tech 22 — Nov. 11
Georgia Tech's known for its triple-option offensive attack, the program's signature throughout coach head Paul Johnson's decade-long tenure. However, it was a pair of passes from quarterback Ta'Quon Marshall that shaped this upset win for the Yellow Jackets.
Marshall's two scoring strikes totaled 140 yards — and they were his only completions of the day in a 28-22 Georgia Tech win.
13. Wake Forest 30, NC State 24 — Nov. 18
Quarterback John Wolford's touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter proved to be a game-winner, as a Wake Forest defense that shined in various points of the season rose to the occasion the rest of the way.
The Demon Deacons forced three turnovers in this matchup of in-state counterparts.
12. Virginia Tech 31, West Virginia 24 — Sept. 3
Six plays and 82 yards: That was the decisive drive, which was capped with a Travon McMillan touchdown run, that propelled the Hokies to a season-opening win over the Mountaineers at FedEx Field.
In this matchup of historic regional rivals, Virginia Tech's defensive prowess took over and stifled an explosive West Virginia offense that showed signs of things to come in quarterback Will Grier's debut after transferring from Florida.
11. Pitt 24, Miami 14 — Nov. 24
Undefeated Miami walked the razor's edge much of the 2017 campaign, and it finally caught up to the Hurricanes on the final day of the regular season. For the fourth time in the past decade — joining wins over West Virginia in 2007 and Penn State and Clemson both in '16 — Pitt played a role in shaping the national championship picture.
The Panthers' defensively dominant performance against Miami made head coach Pat Narduzzi prophetic, and turned the ACC Championship Game into a do-or-die proposition for the Hurricanes.
10. NC State 27, Florida State 21 — Sept. 23
NC State has been a thorn in Florida State's side in recent seasons. In 2017, the Wolfpack went into Tallahassee and scored a huge win for the trajectory of the season.
This time it was quarterback Ryan Finley (230 yards, 2 TDs) and defensive end Bradley Chubb (2 sacks, 3 TFLs) leading the way in the big road win.
9. Miami 25, Georgia Tech 24 — Oct. 14
Miami had a habit of going down to the wire in ACC competition throughout the 2017 season. One week after a thrilling, final-minute drive to beat rival Florida State, the Hurricanes trailed divisional foe Georgia Tech for virtually the entire game.
Travis Homer's touchdown run and a stingy defensive effort in the fourth quarter set the scene for another heart-stopping finish, culminating in a Michael Badgley field goal for the win with four seconds remaining.
8. Florida State 26, Wake Forest 19 — Sept. 30
Forced into the lineup when Deondre Francois was injured in the season opener, freshman James Blackman took a battering in this Atlantic Division matchup. Wake Forest's outstanding defensive front seven racked up a program-record 17 tackles for a loss, but Blackman recovered in time to deliver a 40-yard touchdown strike to Auden Tate for the Seminole win.
7. Miami 41, Notre Dame 8 — Nov. 11
Other games in this countdown were defined by photo finishes and heroic performances in crunch time. Miami thoroughly dominating Notre Dame in a 33-point blowout not even as competitive as the final score would indicate does not fit that mold.
However, a defensive clinic in which the Turnover Chain captured the nation's attention and rout of a Notre Dame team fresh off impressive wins over USC, NC State and Wake Forest showed the direction head coach Mark Richt has Miami headed in his second season.
6. Louisville 31, Florida State 28 — Oct. 21
Standing on the side of elation or heartbreak in college football can change in an instant. In the fourth quarter against Louisville, Florida State drove into Cardinals territory and appeared headed for a pivotal conference win. But a fumble quickly turned the tide, as Lamar Jackson did what Lamar Jackson does.
On a day the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner rushed for 178 yards and passed for 156, Jackson led the Cardinals into Florida State territory to set up the game-winning field goal.
5. Boston College 45, Louisville 42 — Oct. 14
An unlikely offensive showdown ensued between Lamar Jackson and Boston College running back AJ Dillon. Jackson had an outstanding game against the Eagles, rushing for 180 yards with three touchdowns, and passing for 332 yards with two scores.
However, Dillon's 272 yards rushing and four touchdowns made the difference in a huge win for Boston College.
4. Clemson 14, Auburn 6 — Sept. 9
Old-school, smash-mouth, throwback: No matter the term used to describe the early-season ACC vs. SEC clash of Clemson and Auburn, the dueling Tigers delivered. These two teams that played to top-10, regular-season finishes set the tone in this slugfest featuring two of the nation's best front sevens.
3. Clemson 38, NC State 31 — Nov. 4
Had a late-game field goal attempt not gone awry in 2016, NC State would have stolen Clemson's national championship opportunity. The Wolfpack again nearly stole the national title prospects from the Tigers in a back-and-forth contest.
Ultimately, Bronko Nagurski Award-winning defensive end Bradley Chubb's snatching of Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant's towel was the only theft perpetrated on the Tigers in this outstanding game, which wasn't decided until late in the fourth quarter.
2. Syracuse 27, Clemson 24 — Oct. 13
The defending national champions' Friday the 13th horror did not wear a hockey mask; rather, Clemson's fright night donned navy blue and orange.
Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and his staff came at Clemson with an aggressive game plan on both sides of the ball, taking control early en route to one of the 2017 season's biggest upsets.
1. Miami 24, Florida State 20 — Oct. 7
Miami's march to the program's first-ever ACC Championship Game did not begin with the Hurricanes' win over rival Florida State, but the dramatic, end-of-game drive marked an important step on the road.
Instead Miami finally seized on an opportunity to beat the Seminoles, who had become an albatross for The U, winning every matchup from the 2010 season until this one. And this time, it was the Hurricanes that broke the hearts of FSU fans (and arguably the spirit of the Seminoles) with a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)