When teams say a stadium is "tough to win in", the team they are playing usually has a good amount to do with the validity of that statement. Today, I am going to rank the toughest stadiums in the ACC using overall home records over the last eight seasons.
12. Duke - Wallace Wade Stadium
2000-2008 Home Record: 10-44 (.185)
FBS Rank: 120
Games as Underdog: 43
Some say Duke is tough to win at because there is a small crowd and very little energy in the stadium, but opponents still come out with a victory over 80% of the time. Duke ranks dead last in FBS in home winning percentage since 2000. A bright spot was Duke 43% home winning percentage in 2008 under first year coach David Cutcliffe.
11. North Carolina - Kenan Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 28-28 (.500)
FBS Rank: 94
Games as Underdog: 26
The Tar Heels may have the prettiest setting in the ACC, but only manage to win half of the time lately. UNC was an underdog just under half of the time too so the oddsmakers have them pegged pretty well. Butch Davis went 5-2 at home in his second season last year so things are looking up.
10. Wake Forest - BB & T Field
00-08 Home Record: 30-26 (.536)
FBS Rank: 85
Games as Underdog: 21
The Demon Deacons have done some damage in the ACC the past few years but are below average for the conference in Winston Salem. Wake has lost five more times than they were underdogs, but did post a 5-2 record last year.
9. NC State - Carter-Finley Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 36-24 (.600)
FBS Rank: 72
Games as Underdog: 20
The Wolfpack were a menace under Chuck Amato especially when Philip Rivers was around. Now Tom O'Brien is trying to rebuild a program who has made major renovations to their stadium over the last few years. The Wolfpack need to improve on a 4-3 record last year to move up.
8. Georgia Tech - Bobby Dodd Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 39-18 (.684)
FBS Rank: 43
Games as Underdog: 13
The Yellow Jackets play in FBS' oldest stadium and it has been pretty good to them over the years. This is also one of the few BCS stadiums in a major urban area. One area of concern is the 18 home losses vs 13 times as an underdog. Paul Johnson went 6-1 at home in year one.
7. Clemson - Memorial Stadium aka "Death Valley"
00-08 Home Record: 44-16 (.733)
FBS Rank: 37
Games as Underdog: 13
Clemson's Death Valley may be the loudest stadium in the ACC. Players rub Howard's Rock and run down the hill for their entrance. Despite some up and down seasons as of late, the Tigers have won roughly three out of every four home games. Clemson was a respectable 5-2 last season.
6. Virginia - Scott Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 42-15 (.737)
FBS Rank: 36
Games as Underdog: 23
The first surprise on the list to many is in Charlottesville. The most remarkable stat about UVA is their 23 games as an underdog with just 15 losses; this difference is tops in the nation. However, the Cavs went just 4-3 in 2008 at home.
5. Florida State - Doak Campbell Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 42-14 (.750)
FBS Rank: 29
Games as Underdog: 4
Once impossible to win at, Doak Campbell has slipped in stature along with the Seminoles. Attesting to the former dominance is evidenced by FSU being an underdog just four times at home in the last eight seasons. But FSU has lost 14 times and that 10 game difference is second nationally.
4. Maryland - Byrd Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 43-14 (.754)
FBS Rank: 27
Games as Underdog: 18
This was the biggest surprise to me, but Maryland's record at home is very, very good. Even in an average year like 2008, the Terps still went 6-1 in College Park. Upon Ralph Friedgen's arrival, Maryland experienced a few undefeated seasons at home.
3. Boston College - Alumni Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 45-12 (.789)
FBS Rank: 19
Games as Underdog: 9
BC, a relative newcomer to the ACC, shouldn't be too much of a surprise here as they have played in the last two ACC Championship Games. The Eagles went 5-2 in Chesnut Hill last season.
2. Miami - Land Shark Stadium/Orange Bowl
00-08 Home Record: 46-11 (.807)
FBS Rank: 13
Games as Underdog: 3
The Hurricanes recently moved out of their long time home into the Miami Dolphins facility. In the 80s and early 90s Miami was impossible to beat at home winning 58 straight at one point. Times are not as good as they used to be and Miami went just 4-2 last season. But their success early in the decade vaults them near the top.
1. Virginia Tech - Lane Stadium
00-08 Home Record: 52-9 (.852)
FBS Rank: 8
Games as Underdog: 3
No surprise here with the Metallica entrance spelling doom for most visitors. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lane Stadium was very kind to the Hokies in 2008 as they went undefeated at home.
General thoughts on the rankings-
On average, the ACC went 38-19 (.664) at home over the past eight seasons and was underdogs twice per year. I thought about different ways of ranking the stadiums - just use 2008 record, use the current coaches home record, use ATS data, etc. Using just last season is too small a data point. ATS data is good, but punishes really good teams who are often favored. The current coaches record I think could be a suitable replacement for my data but coaches have varying tenures so you are not pulling the same number of data points for each.
I found overall record was the best indicator because even if a stadium is tough to win in, its overall record is the biggest determinant. I have heard coaches and players say Duke is tough to play because of the small crowd and lack of energy, but the record does not back this up. Certain stadiums like Clemson's may be louder, but BC's much smaller home field has been tougher to win at than the Tigers.
Obviously with certain teams on the upswing and others on the downswing, this ranking is by no means a reflection of what teams' home records will be this year.
What are your thoughts on what are the toughest stadiums in the ACC?