Clemson's run is over, and with it so are the ACC's chances at national relevance come December.
This will mark the 11th straight season an ACC team won't factor in the national championship picture, and all the league will try to hang its hat on are a stretch coming up versus Notre Dame, the annual end-of-season rivalry games with SEC teams and the mostly forgettable bowls its teams are aligned.
But there's a different feel to the league's return to its usual place among the conferences that receive automatic spots in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). Clemson's 8-0 start generated legitimate enthusiasm and excitement, not just in South Carolina's Upstate, but throughout the ACC.
Fans from every school were paying close attention to the Tigers. Many might not admit it, but a lot of folks wanted Clemson to run the table to give the ACC a place on the grandest stage, or at least finish the season unbeaten and forcing the national pundits to take notice.
The wait has been a long ...