- Mar 6, 2018
Best ACC college football bets: Will the Tar Heels win 10 games?ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)
Our college football conference preview continues a close look at the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The win totals, conference title odds and national championship odds for every FBS team have been released, and below our experts -- Bill Connelly, David Hale, Doug Kezirian, Joe Fortenbaugh and Tyler Fulghum -- give their best best bets for the ACC.
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
ACC best bets
North Carolina Tar Heels Under 10 wins (-145)Fulghum: The excitement for this upcoming season in Chapel Hill is justifiable. Sam Howell is a Heisman Trophy candidate. Mack Brown has done a wonderful job rebuilding the program. But 11 wins are needed to clear this number. Anything more than one loss this season for the Tar Heels misses the mark. Despite Howell's presence, the Tar Heels lost more than 40 TD and 4,000+ yards of offense to the NFL Draft (RB Javonte Williams, RB Michael Carter, WR Dyami Brown, WR Dazz Newsome). That's too much for me to bet the over.
Connelly: Even though SP+ considers UNC a top-10 caliber team, it also leans under -- the Heels drew road trips to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Pitt, NC State and Georgia Tech and a home game against Miami, and while they are projected 11th overall, SP+ only gives them a 21% chance of topping 10 wins and a 28% chance of hitting exactly 10. You don't make bets hoping to push.
Virginia Tech Hokies Over 7 wins (+110)Connelly: I'm not sure things are quite as dire in Blacksburg as we've been led to believe. Losing running back Khalil Herbert hurts, and there have been just enough transfers to further an "instability" narrative if you choose to further it. But the passing game should be excellent and the defense is far more experienced, both on the two-deep and in the coordinator chair, than it was in 2020. And then there's this: somehow, Justin Fuente's Hokies only play five projected top-50 opponents, per SP+, while playing four teams projected 102nd or worse. SP+ gives them a 54% chance of winning eight or more and only a 22% chance of winning six or fewer.
Louisville Cardinals under 6.5 wins (-110)Kezirian: This is tough for me because I absolutely love Scott Satterfield, dating back to his Appalachian State days. He debuted with the Cardinals with a 8-5 record and injected optimism but last year took a giant step back with four wins and an apology letter to fans for flirting with the South Carolina opening. He will take over as the offensive play-caller and hopes to restore QB Malik Cunningham to his 2019 form. That will be tough after losing his top two options, including WR Tutu Atwell to the NFL.
This schedule will be a grind and I doubt Louisville has the depth and resiliency to handle the multiple factors that could derail the Cardinals. They open against a high-powered Ole Miss offense and also face championship contender Clemson. And then they have a slew of losable games: at Florida State, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Boston College, at NC State and Kentucky. A .500 season is doable, especially for a guy like Satterfield, but I have to play the percentages and take the under.
Syracuse Orange over 3 wins (-125)Kezirian: A cardiologist would not recommend this play but sometimes you just have to take your medicine and hope for the best. And you cannot be afraid of a push. I think the Orange can surprise some opponents, despite only averaging 265 yards per game in 2020. That is embarrassing and must improve, and it should with a stronger offensive line. The trenches was the biggest weakness last season. QB Tomnmy DeVito returns and needs a sturdier offensive line to stay healthy and provide a much-needed offensive spark.
As for the schedule, you could honestly cash this over in September. While that's a bit optimistic, it's still conceivable. Winning at Ohio and then at home to Rutgers, Albany and Liberty is not that farfetched. Let's say the Orange win three of those and you're already pushing. The rest of the slate doesn't offer anything easy but maybe the 'Cuse surprise Boston College or Pittsburgh at home. After all, this is a school that upset Clemson in 2017 and lost by four points in 2018. College football is wild. Ignore your doctor.
Boston College Eagles Under 7 wins (+135)
Hale: The narrative on BC goes like this: Good head coach entering second year with an emerging star QB and a shaky defense tries to build on a surprise season from the year before. It all sounds good. It was also essentially the exact same logic that could've been applied to an incredibly disappointing Louisville team last year. Yes, BC played surprisingly well in losses to UNC and Clemson. The Eagles also looked bad in wins over Texas State and Syracuse. And then there's this nugget: From 2016 to 2018, 21 teams finished with a winning record thanks in large part to a positive turnover margin, despite a negative yardage differential for the season. Of that group, 15 finished with a worse record the following season (including all five from 2019 to 2020). That's BC's profile.