2008 -- Georgia Tech 21, Clemson 17, Clemson, SC
Paul Johnson and Dabo Swinney were in their first season at the helms, though it should be noted that Swinney was in his first game in charge following the mid-season departure of Tommy Bowden. Georgia Tech took a 14-3 lead into halftime after Dominique Reese's pick-six and a Josh Nesbitt run from 5 yards out. The third quarter was not as amicable to the Jackets, with Clemson scoring twice on touchdown passes from Cullen Harper to Aaron Kelly. Down 17-14, Georgia Tech mounted a late comeback with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Nesbitt to Demaryius Thomas. Georgia Tech finished the game with 298 yards of offense and 207 rushing yards.
Georgia Tech would finish the season 9-4 after victories over Miami and uga and a loss to LSU in the Chik-fil-A Bowl, and Paul Johnson was named ACC Coach of the Year. Clemson would finish at 7-6 with wins over Boston College and South Carolina and a loss to Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. Their leading rushers on the season were "Thunder and Lightning", James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
2009 (Round 1) -- Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 27, Atlanta, GA
In Dabo Swinney's first full season as Clemson's head coach, things did not start out favorably for the Tigers on a Thursday night in Atlanta. Georgia Tech jumped out to a 24-0 lead on an 82-yard Anthony Allen touchdown, an 85-yard Jerrard Tarrant punt return for a touchdown, and a totally legal 34-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas from kicker Scott Blair on a fake field goal. The Tigers came storming back though with 27 straight points, to lead with 11:33 left in the game. Two late Scott Blair field goals would end up the deciding factor though, as the Yellow Jackets would take these teams' first battle of the season.
And who could forget the aftermath?
2009 (Round 2) -- Georgia Tech 39, Clemson 34, Tampa, FL
The two teams would come together for a second matchup, with much, much more on the line. The ACC Championship matchup featured these two rivals, and the game didn't turn out a whole lot different than before. The two teams traded blows, with Tech taking a 16-13 halftime lead. The third quarter saw the Yellow Jackets score 17 points, including a Josh Nesbitt run and a long, 70-yard pass to Demaryius Thomas. The 33-20 lead didn't last long, as Clemson scored 14 in the fourth to take a 34-33 lead. As before though, Tech benefitted from last-minute heroics as Jonathan Dwyer rumbled 15 yards for a touchdown with under a minute and a half to go.
Georgia Tech would go on to lose to Iowa in the Orange Bowl to finish with an 11-3 record, while Clemson beat Kentucky in the Music City Bowl to finish 9-5. The Yellow Jackets would later be forced to vacate the win due to NCAA sanctions...but we all know what we saw.
2010 -- Clemson 27, Georgia Tech 13, Clemson, SC
It was a major hangover year for the Yellow Jackets, but they came into this game 5-2. Clemson came in 3-3, but with losses at eventual national champion Auburn (in overtime) and against Coastal foes Miami and North Carolina -- all close games. The Tigers came out hot, taking a 17-0 lead before Georgia Tech got a field goal on the board just before halftime. Tech scored 10 in the third quarter, but never got closer than 24-13 as Clemson rolled to break a 4-game losing streak within the series. The Yellow Jackets ran for 242 yards and gave up over 400, with a Time of Possession deficit to boot.
The Yellow Jackets finished with an ugly 6-7 mark, losing down the stretch to Virginia Tech, Miami, uga, and in the Independence Bowl against Air Force. Clemson would finish with the same 6-7 mark, losing down the stretch to Boston College, Florida State, South Carolina, and South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Really a bummer of a year for both teams.
2011 -- Georgia Tech 31, Clemson 17, Atlanta, GA
In one of the most memorable games from my time at school, Georgia Tech was fresh off of their first two losses of the season, while Clemson came in ranked #5 and undefeated at 8-0. Things looked bad for the Yellow Jackets, but it was an 8pm ESPN game and Homecoming, with the stadium rocking for the entire game. Clemson struck first with a field goal, but then Georgia Tech reeled off 24 straight points for a three-touchdown halftime lead. The second half was even more eventful, with a missed offsides call resulting in a Georgia Tech turnover on the goal line, a missed wide open Stephen Hill and poorly thrown pass to Orwin Smith resulting in an interception returned inside the ten yard line, and Jemea Thomas intercepting Tajh Boyd twice to shut the Tigers down. The Jackets would roll for 383 on the ground behind Tevin Washington, David Sims, and Roddy Jones.
Georgia Tech would finish at 8-5, with losses to Virginia Tech, uga, and a crushing loss to Utah in the Sun Bowl, while the loss would derail the Tigers into losing 3 of their last 5 to NC State, South Carolina, and West Virginia in an ugly Orange Bowl performance. However, they made it to the Orange Bowl on the heels of a 38-10 shallacking of Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game.
2012 -- Clemson 47, Georgia Tech 31, Clemson, SC
Quite simply, Georgia Tech came into this game looking to play spoiler. They had started the season with crushing losses to Virginia Tech, Miami, and Middle Tennessee State (although whether that last one actually happened is up for debate), sporting a 2-3 record against Clemson's 4-1 record (with the 1 coming against Florida State in Tallahassee). Surprisingly, playing spoiler went really well for quite a while. Tech led 14-10 after the first quarter and was within striking distance at halftime, only trailing 27-21. The first 17 minutes of the second half saw Tech reach out and actually execute that strike, taking a 31-30 lead at the 13:00 mark left in the game. However, the Tigers reeled off 17 straight points to end the game, taking home a 47-31 win. It would be two days later when Defensive Coordinator Al Groh was fired from his position, in what would end up marking a huge turning point for the Yellow Jacket defense.
Clemson went on to win out, with the exception of South Carolina, including a Chik-fil-A Bowl win over #9 LSU. The Yellow Jackets would finish as the first team to ever reach a 7-7 mark (it was real weird), with losses to BYU, uga, and Florida State (in the ACC Championship Game), and a dominating win over USC in the Sun Bowl. Very much a noteworthy year for both programs.
2013 -- ??, Clemson, SC
Johnson and Swinney face off once more this week, with Johnson holding a
3-2 screw the NCAA 4-2 advantage over his counterpart. The two teams have combined to appear in five ACC Championship Games under their respective coaches, with Clemson winning two and Georgia Tech winning one. They've represented the ACC in two of the past four Orange Bowl games, and sport a combined 14-4 record as they enter Thursday's game. Both coaches have had a successful run at their schools since 2008, and will look to continue that successful run during this game and beyond. The question becomes who will be more successful, and how long those runs will last for. In any case, the rest of each coach's run will begin this Thursday in Death Valley.