While the SEC may be the best team for team conference, the ACC may be one of the most competitive from top to bottom. The ACC has provided plenty of thrills over the last couple of years with teams like Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech and Clemson leading the way. This year we’ll be tuning in to see if some anticipated changes take place. How far will BC fall without Matt Ryan at the helm and a host of others? Will Bobby Bowden and Florida State return to the top? Is Clemson really the best team in the ACC and perhaps a contender for the National Title? From a betting standpoint, based on the current odds to win the ACC, if you’re looking for a long shot to make a score, perhaps Maryland at 25-1 Odds is worth a shot. With Clemson being 8-5, you’d have to toss them. Let’s dig in and take a look at a;; the ACC teams.
Clemson Odds 8-5 – Let’s start with Clemson, mainly because the Tigers are on top of most pundits lists of teams likely to win the ACC and , perhaps contend for a National Title. I can understand where the enthusiasm comes from. Clemson is always an 8 or 9 win team. Tommy Bowden is entering his 10th year at the helm and the Tigers return 8 starters on both sides of the ball. But usually, teams show signs the year before if they are going to be National Title material the following year. I just don’t see that with Clemson. They played Auburn tough in a bowl Game, and they were shorthanded due to suspensions. That’s a plus. But really, there’s nothing else you can point to from last year and say, this team is on the move. They lost to Boston College, and though BC had a great year, they still weren’t really a “great” team. Likewise, they just squeaked by a South Carolina team, that was just ok. They lost to Virginia Tech at home by almost 20 points and lost to Georgia Tech 13-3. I just don’t see anything that stands out from a year ago that would spell National Title this year. Yes, they were good, and return all the key players. They certainly should contend for the ACC crown but National Title seems a bit to much here. Heck, they play Alabama to start the year and could see National Title hopes end right there! But it is a cooperative a Schedule. If they can get by Bama and then a couple of late season Games against the likes of an improved Florida State and South Carolina, well, then we’ll talk.
Florida State Odds 4-1 – If there’s a team to watch out for this year, it’s Florida State. After a 7-6 year in 2007, Bobby Bowden cleaned house on the coaching staff. prior to last season. With such drastic changes, it would be understandable to have a down year. They opened up against Clemson last season and it looked right off the bat like the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. They trailed the Game 24-3 at halftime. Not only did they come back and make a Game of it, they almost won! They went on to have a year plagued by injuries, and then, suspensions, yet still managed to win 7 Games. They almost won their Bowl Game against Kentucky and they were playing with half a team. Those results are the direct result of coaching. Give Bowden all the credit. This year, they still have to play their first 3 Games with suspensions, but fortunately, they get Western Carolina and ChattanooGA to start the year. I’m not going out on too much of a limb predicting 10 wins for the Seminoles. The talent is there. The coaching is there.
Wake Forest Odds 8-1 – The Demon Deacons became one of my favorite college football teams in 2006, and not just because I saw that good year coming and was on the right side of lots of their Games that year! Everyone like to root for an underdog and when a team that rarely wins more than 5 Games year after year, how can you not root for them during an 11-3 season. To their credit, and of course coach Jim Grobes credit, they didn’t fall off the map last year. They went a very respectable 9-4 and were competitive in all but one of their losses, which was a 44-10 loss to Clemson. So now what? Can they continue to win? Let’s start with the good news – they return 9 starters on defense. Now the bad news – The defense wasn’t all that great. But it wasn’t all that bad either, despite the yards per point number of 15 and giving up 36 points to Duke of all teams. They someone managed to a + 9 in turnovers. +13 the year before. It goes to show, when you end up + in the turnover department, you win ball Games. The offense returns Skinner at QB but only 4 others from last years unit. But this unorthodox offense manages to put points on the board. Should be interesting. I think Wake has another winning season, making it 3 in a row. I just don’t think it will match last years 9 win mark. I think 7 is more realistic, but I’ll be rooting for more. I really like this team.
Boston College Odds 25-1 – Last year was a special one for BC as they climbed as high as number 2 in the nation starting off 8-0. But this year there will be some question marks. Last year was coach Jeff Jagodzinski’s first at BC and the team he took over was the work of former BC coach Tom O’Brien. He loses star QB Matt Ryan to the NFL and a host of others to graduation. Losing Ryan and some targets has to hurt this team, badly. Ryan was the differeNCe in more than a couple of Games last year. I really only see 3 Games that you can give them automatic W’s in. With 12 Games on the card, and 9 that can go either way, it looks to me like 7 would be the most wins we can expect. Although it’s worth mentioning that they have 7 home Games and get Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Va Tech all at home.
Maryland Odds 25-1 – The Terps strung together 3 consecutive 10+ win seasons back in the beginning of this decade but since then the only bright spot was 2006 when they went 9-4. Otherwise it’s been 5 and 6 win seasons iNCluding last years 6-7, although they did go to a Bowl. But it’s not as if this is a bad program with no talent. Last year they beat BC, Rutgers and Georgia Tech. Their offense put up some big numbers a few times last season and returns 8. Looking at the Schedule, it looks to me like their bowl hopes will rest on their performance in their last two Games, Florida State at home and at BC. They have a good shot at being 6-4 heading into that final two Game stretch.
NC ST Odds 30-1 – Can Tom Obrien work the same magic at NC ST that he worked at Boston College? Well, these things take time. He did improve the teams record from 2006, by 2 wins, to 5-7 last year, however, they simply were not competitive against the good teams they faced. BC, Clemson, Louisville, Florida State, Wake Forest and Maryland all blew his team out. The goal this year should be 6 wins and an outside chance at a bowl Game. Anything more than 6 wins should earn Obrien coach of the year honors
Virginia Tech Odds 3-1 – Why not start off the Coastal Division write up with Virginia Tech. While this team loses several key players, particularly on offense, Tech is one of those schools where it doesn’t really seem to matter. They win year after year reGArdless of returning starters from the year before. As a matter of fact a look at the yards per point numbers on offense and defense over the last several years show us that this team is one of the most consistent in the land. They have put up steady offensive numbers of 11 or 12 which is great, and defensive numbers usually between 18-20 which is fantastic. All the while, winning 10 or 11 Games each year. It’s tough to argue with those results. So, we won’t. Should be anywhere from 8 to 11 wins and a nice bowl Game oNCe again for Virginia Tech.
Miami Odds 6-1 – Hard to gauge this team. The Hurricanes are off of their worst year in 30 seasons, with a 5-7 mark last year, and return only 5 on offense and 7 on defense. Anything less than 7 wins and a bowl Game and heads will roll on Miami. But it’s hard to look at last year and come away with any positives, or building blocks. The glaring problem is that they couldn’t compete with the top teams in the country. Their Games against ranked opponents were not even close with the exception of beating Texas A&M. But then, A&M is no powerhouse. They were blown off the field by Oklahoma, Virginia and Virginia Tech. They had some close Games against middle of the road type teams like NC ST, but that pretty much makes them a middle of the road team. The GAp between the elite teams and Miami is just too large to expect Miami to return to their glory days. Fortunately for them, their Schedule doesn’t contain many of the elite. It’s a Schedule they should be able to work with and realistically have a shot at reaching 7 wins and a bowl.
Virginia Odds 50-1 – The Cavs were a lot of fun to watch last year. They GAve us some thrilling Games winning 5 Games by 1 or 2 points. The fact that they won so many close Games isn’t necessarily a good thing when looking at this year though. To win so many Games by such close margins means the ball is bouNCing your way. Teams that have above average years usually get the breaks. Getting all the breaks and bouNCes two years in a row is rare, so if Virginia is going to have a good year, they are going to have to earn it. But the Cavs put a decent team on the field each year, and generally can be counted on to win 7 or 8 Games. They are consistently in that win range, and have fairly consistent yards per point numbers, respectable on both sides of the ball each year. They lose key guys from a year ago, such as Chris Long from the defensive line, and they have to kick the year of against USC of all teams. But after USC they have a string of 8 Games or so that are against teams of their ability, or worse. So, it’s a workable Schedule for the most part, until their final two Games against Virginia Tech and Clemson. No reason this team can’t get their 7 wins this year.
North Carolina Odds 8-1 – The first thing to note about this years Tar Heel team is that they are loaded with returning starters from a year ago. 10 on offense iNCluding the QB and 8 on defense. The next question you have to ask is, does it matter? The answer is, it might. You have to look at last years results and when you do, you see that while they only won 4 Games, they were close in many. For instaNCe, they were able to beat Maryland. Then, they came close against the likes of Virginia, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Real close as a matter of fact as all of those Games, against god teams were decided by a touchdown or less. So, yes, this team is right there, pretty much the same team as a year ago with another year under their belts with Butch Davis at the helm. The Schedule looks to be a little more difficult this year, but they should improve by a few Games at least over last years mark. Let’s call it at least 7 wins and a bowl Game with kudos going to Butch Davis for a job well done.
Georgia Tech Odds 30-1 – The Yellow Jackets are another example of a team that can compete with the middle of the road teams but are still far apart from the cream of the crop in college football, although they did knock off Clemson last year. They lost quite a few key players and have a new coach to boot. Looking at their Schedule, I give them 4 automatic losses right off the bat. That leaves 8 “swing Games” to determine their fate. Looks to me like a down year. Let’s call it a 6 win year.
Duke Odds 100-1 – Duke has lots of returning starters. So what. They were 1-11 last year. Our editor says we aren’t allowed to take up more than two lines with Duke Football. Next.
The ACC should oNCe again be very competitive this year. There are more teams that fit into the category of “middle of the road” than there are elite teams, which always makes for some exciting, close Games that can go either way. Personally, I’m most anxious to see what Jim Grobe and Wake Forest can do this year and really hope they can stay in the mix. I’m also looking forward to watching Florida States return to promineNCe and am interested in seeing how the Hurricanes make out this year. Let’s call it Florida State in the Atlantic and Virginia Tech in the Coastal.