Last postseason, the SEC might have reclaimed its spot as the dominant college football conference of the Power-5. But there’s one thing you still can’t say about the SEC. They’re not the deepest conference in college football.
Neither is any conference not called the ACC.
Bayer Mayfield wouldn’t have looked so dumb taunting Kansas if the Jayhawks had any chance to beat OU. I can’t see present-day Cal beating a great Washington or USC team. Can’t see Indiana whipping Penn State, or Kentucky tripping Alabama.
But can I see the ACC’s Syracuse Orange beating Clemson? Oh yeah. That happened recently, in fact. What’s more, the Tigers can lose to Syracuse and then also to Pittsburgh. Or Georgia Tech. Or NC State. or Florida State, or Miami. Or VT.
Don’t forget Boston College, who beat FSU and Lamar Jackson’s Louisville squad while averaging 10 points a quarter.
A crowded ACC puts value in sleepers in futures gambling, but what about win-total picks? Here’s some Star Trek battle scene-caliber leaning, and a few choice futures angles.
Clemson: Getting by Without Fireworks
Dabo Swinney will talk about blocking, fundamentals, and Lord bless ‘em, turnover ratio. But it’s time to concede that the Tigers aren’t as explosive a football team without Deshaun Watson at the helm. Bettors must decide if Swinney’s NFL-caliber DL and Kendall Joseph prowling behind it are enough to buoy Kelly Bryant all the way back to the CFP.
The Tigers’ consensus O/U total is between (10 ½) and (11) wins, a tall order in a conference with many minefields. Lean: Under
ACC Powerhouses: FSU, Miami, Virginia Tech
Florida State is at 50/1 odds to win the College Football Playoff. That’s a tempting couch-cushion wager since the Seminoles could make noise in the national landscape if all goes well. Deondre Francois is tossing passes and feeling close to healthy, Cam Akers is a fine tailback, and DT Demarcus Christmas will anchor a speedy defense.
The core of the secondary left for the NFL, however, and coach Willie Taggart is not the long-term savior.
Some sportsbooks have been listing the Seminoles’ total as (7 ½) with a low payoff on the winner. O/U (8) wins at (+100) or (-110) is safer. Lean: None
Mark Richt’s recruiting is a boon for Miami, and the Hurricanes are a “sexy” pick to win the ACC. WR Ahmmon Richards had a 1000-yard frosh season, and Jonathan Garvin sets the edge for the defense.
Richt will have green-as-a-palm-leaf N’Kosi Perry taking snaps, though, and teenage PK Bubba Baxa kicking off when the ‘Canes travel to LSU on 9/2. That doesn’t assure a strong start for Perry. Miami’s win-total line at MyBookie is a hefty (9 ½). Lean: Under
Virginia Tech will find a way to be competitive in ’18. They always do. But there are questions about the program’s ceiling. VT’s win-total line at MyBookie is (8 ½) which may be too generous, for instance. The ’18 roster is short on productive upperclassmen, and 6 starters from the defense have graduated. Cam Phillips has moved on. So has kicker Joey Slye. Lean: Under
Liner Notes: More Tips on the ACC
Boston College is my upset pick for ACC champion at (+4000). The Eagles’ trouncing of FSU was the shocker of 2017 (next to Syracuse over Clemson) and BC followed it up by taking NC State and Iowa to the limit.
A soft early schedule will help hold serve until Anthony Brown is healthy, and A.J. Dillon’s running will help keep a talented defense rested.
Ryan Finley chose to forego the NFL draft and keep playing QB at NC State, but he’ll need a new left tackle to replace Will Richardson. Bradley Chubb’s absence will also hurt the defense in the trenches. But the Wolfpack has shown steady improvement and cracked the Top 25 with coach Dave Doeren at the helm.
Look for NC State to exceed a modest (7) win-total line.
Georgia Tech’s O/U total is merely (6) wins, making me like the Ramblin’ Wreck as an over bet. Alcorn State and Bowling Green provide 2 gimmes, and at least 5 or 6 other teams on the slate will have problems stopping TaQuon Marshall.
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.