ACC Takes Center Stage on Thursday Night

ESPN is done plowing through their month-long string of PAC12 games on Thursday nights, and now it’s the ACC’s turn. We love college football on Thursday night, but what we really love is ACC football on Thursday night.

Over the course of the next four Thursday nights, the ACC will be showcased on ESPN with four in-conference clashes, a couple of which are pivotal matchups in the division races.

  • 10/25/12: Clemson @ Wake Forest
  • 11/1/12: VT @ Miami
  • 11/8/12: FSU @ VT
  • 11/15/12: UNC @ Virginia

More on those games later.

The ACC’s History on ESPN Thursday Night

Unfortunately, thanks primarily to the NFL playing on Thursday nights, ESPN’s Thursday night showcase doesn’t have the luster it used to. The glory days of Thursday night were back when Mike Tirico, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso did the broadcasts, from 1999-2004, and the games were college football’s version of Monday Night Football.

As the ACC has expanded and signed new contracts with ESPN over the last decade, Thursday night telecasts of ACC games have become a pivotal part of those contracts. While some ACC programs haven’t made many Thursday night appearances, others have gotten great exposure.

Since the 2004 expansion, here are the number of Thursday night ESPN games that have involved ACC teams, including out of conference games and in-conference games.

  • 2004: 6
  • 2005: 4
  • 2006: 8
  • 2007: 5
  • 2008: 7
  • 2009: 6
  • 2010: 4
  • 2011: 5
  • 2012: 4

Here’s the breakdown of number of appearances and win-loss records per team.

[table id=85 /]

Virginia Tech and Bryan Randall blasted Maryland 55-6 in a 2004 Thursday night game.

Number of Appearances: Virginia Tech has been the ACC’s workhorse on Thursday nights, appearing 14 times in the first eight years since ACC expansion, nearly twice per season. The Hokies will add two more appearances this season, bringing them to 16 showings in 9 years.

NC State, Georgia Tech, and Miami have also been willing partners. Behind them, Florida State, a storied program that doesn’t need to appear on Thursday nights to build its brand, nonetheless averages almost one appearance per year.

At the bottom of the appearance scale are Wake Forest and Duke. Wake has made the most of its appearances, winning both of them, while Duke hasn’t even appeared on Thursday night at all, even in a road game against a higher-profile opponent. With Duke’s success on the football field this season, ESPN might choose to televise the Blue Devils on Thursday night next year, which would be a first.

Winning Percentage: Among programs that have appeared seven or more times since 2004, the Miami Hurricanes have had the most Thursday night success, winning seven of nine games. The Canes won their first five Thursday games as ACC members, and have split since then.

Virginia Tech, once a powerhouse on Thursday nights, has suffered some losses (4-4 from 2006-2009) but still has an impressive 10-4 record. Virginia (3-1) has mostly prospered on Thursday nights.

At the other end of the scale, Georgia Tech (3-6), Clemson (1-4), and Maryland (0-5) have a combined record of 4-15 on Thursday nights.

This Season’s Games

As we noted above, the ACC takes center stage on ESPN for the next month. Here are the games you’ll see:

Oct 25th: Clemson @ Wake Forest

Wake Forest is struggling this year, but this matchup is intriguing because Clemson has to travel to Winston-Salem just five days after playing Virginia Tech at home. Thursday night road games the week after playing on Saturday are tough to prepare for, and Clemson will lean on a significant talent advantage to try to gut out the win.

Nov 1st: Virginia Tech @ Miami

This game is going to play a huge role in settling the Coastal Division crown. Most agree that Duke won’t be able to hold their edge over the Canes and Hokies in the standings, and most also agree that Miami and Virginia Tech are favorites to win their other ACC games (the one exception is VT’s Thursday night game against FSU the following week — see below). This one is pivotal.

Nov 8th: Florida State @ Virginia Tech

If the Hokies beat Miami on November 1st, VT can still drop this game and close out with wins over BC and Virginia for a likely Coastal Division title. But Florida State, in a neck-and-neck Atlantic race with NC State, Clemson and Maryland, can’t afford to drop this one. The Noles will pull out all the stops, and this one should be fun to watch in Lane Stadium.

Nov 15th: North Carolina @ Virginia

This game won’t matter one bit in the Coastal race, because Virginia currently stands 0-4 in the ACC, and UNC can’t win the title. The chatter all night will be about issues other than the importance of the game, which is nil.

Have fun tuning in, ACC fans!

 

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