The ACC has some very intriguing storylines entering the 2021 college football season with Clemson hoping to continue its domination of the conference while the likes of North Carolina in the Coastal Division and NC State in the Atlantic hope to dethrone the Tigers. The Tar Heels have the potential No. 1 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in quarterback Sam Howell while the Wolfpack feature 17 returning starters. There's a lot of depth in the ACC so let's take a look at each team's win total and try to find some value.
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of DraftKings.
Boston College (Over 7 -148...Under 7 +115)
Non-Conference Games: Colgate, at UMass, at Temple, Missouri
Schedule Notes: Boston College has some very interesting non-conference games including a home tilt against an SEC team before a road trip to Clemson. The Eagles host Virginia Tech and Florida State in November as part of a closing stretch of three of four at home.
QB: Phil Jurkovec
Roster Notes: Jurkovec and WR Zay Flowers are a great start for an offense that found its footing last season under new head coach Jeff Hafley, who led the team to six victories. The offensive line has two rocks in Alec Lindstrom and Ben Petrula, but last season's leading rusher, David Bailey, transferred. The defense returns nine starters from an unit that needs to generate make more plays behind the line of scrimmage.
Prediction: Lean to the over here as the schedule lines up nicely, but not at this price. Shop around to find something better.
Related: ACC Football 2021 Predictions
Clemson (Over 11.5 +110...Under 11.5 -139)
Non-Conference Games: Georgia (in Charlotte, N.C.), South Carolina State, Connecticut, at South Carolina
Schedule Notes: The Tigers open up with a massive test against one of the SEC's best. The other regular-season test comes on Sept. 25 in Raleigh against NC State. Clemson closes out the year with three of its final five at home.
QB: DJ Uiagalelei
Roster Notes: Uiagalelei got his first taste of action last year and threw five touchdowns with no interceptions. He's got no safety net behind him so health is an important factor. Wide receiver Justyn Ross' return from a neck injury could be a huge boost and the receiving corps also features TE Braden Galloway, a legitimate NFL prospect. The offensive line should be rock-solid with Lyn J-Dixon leading a talented stable of running backs. Ten starters return on defense, which starts up front with an athletic and deep defensive line. The secondary will miss cornerback Derion Kendrick (who transferred to Georgia), but this group should be able to get the job done.
Prediction: I don't see this Clemson team going undefeated so I'd take the under.
Florida State (Over 5.5 -134...Under 5.5 +105)
Non-Conference Games: Notre Dame, Jacksonville State, UMass, at Florida
Schedule Notes: There is a real opportunity to start fast as the Seminoles have five of their first seven at home before a road trip to Clemson. They close with potentially two road dates against Boston College and Florida.
QB: UCF transfer McKenzie Milton vs. Jordan Travis
Roster Notes: If Milton is healthy and he beats Travis for the job, FSU could be interesting to watch on offense. Travis' mobility (seven rushing TDs in 2020) and experience in the system will keep him in the competition for the No. 1 spot into fall camp most likely. There are plenty of weapons at WR in Ontaria Wilson, Keyshawn Helton, and Kansas transfer Andrew Parchment. The offensive line returns intact for former Texas A&M transfer Jashaun Corbin to run behind. The defense returns just five starters, but their top three tacklers are part of that group. We'll see if some SEC transfers can help improve this side of the ball.
Prediction: I come up with five or six wins, but lean a little bit to the over. If the defense can take the next step and gel with the transfers then this could be a seven-win team. But there's not a lot of margin for error either, so be wary of the under.
Louisville (Over 7 +125...Under -159)
Non-Conference Games: Ole Miss (in Atlanta), Eastern Kentucky, UCF, Kentucky
Schedule Notes: The Cardinals have just two true home games over the first five weeks of the season. They host Clemson on Nov. 6 the week after they travel to NC State. Three of the final four contests are at home.
QB: Malik Cunningham
Roster Notes: The offense has plenty of starters back in all the right places with Cunningham leading the way. He had 19 touchdowns, but also accounted for 15 turnovers. It'll be interesting to see how they use Georgia Southern transfer Shai Werts, who was a dual-threat quarterback for the Eagles that is expected to line up at wide receiver for Louisville. Hassan Hall and Jalen Mitchell are a pretty solid running back duo. On defense, the team's top two tacklers are gone and only five starters return. This side of the ball was solid last season but is a concern entering 2021 because of the roster turnover.
Prediction: The money move is right as I have six or seven wins.
NC State (Over 6 -159...Under 6 +125)
Non-Conference Games: USF, at Mississippi State, Furman, Louisiana Tech
Schedule Notes: The Wolfpack have four of their first five at home, but the Louisiana Tech game on Oct. 2 could be a potential banana peel contest after hosting Clemson the week before. After a bye week NC State plays four of five on the road before closing things out with back-to-back home games.
QB: Devin Leary
Roster Notes: Leary had eight touchdown passes to two interceptions last year before breaking his leg. He should be healthy and he'll have his top three targets back in Emeka Emezie, Thayer Thomas and Devin Carter. The offensive line needs improvement but returns four starters and the running game should be solid with Bam Knight and Ricky Person Jr. sharing carries. Defensive tackle Alim McNeill will be missed but the linebacking corps ranks among the best in the nation with Payton Wilson, Isaiah Moore and Drake Thomas.
Prediction: Slightest of leans to the over but definitely not at this price.
Syracuse (Over 3.5 +105...Under 3.5 -134)
Non-Conference Games: at Ohio, Rutgers, Albany, Liberty
Schedule Notes: After a tough road trip to a MAC school, the Orange have five of their next six at home. They host Clemson, but also have road trips to NC State and Virginia Tech.
QB Battle: Tommy DeVito vs. Mississippi State transfer Garrett Shrader
Roster Notes: DeVito has the edge because he's been in the system, but Shrader is the more intriguing quarterback option because of his mobility. The offensive line was hideous last year, allowing almost four sacks per game so it may be a good thing that just two starters return up front. There's a solid group of running backs along with Taj Harris and Anthony Queeley out wide. Experience is not an issue on defense with 10 starters back and 11 of the top 12 tacklers from last season. There are three super seniors up front in Josh Black, McKinley Williams and Kingsley Jonathan. They'll need to get pressure to protect a secondary that may take some time to come together.
Prediction: The Orange will probably only squeeze out three or four wins, so no play here.
Wake Forest (Over 6.5 -134...Under 6.5 +105)
Non-Conference Games: Old Dominion, Norfolk State, at Army, at North Carolina
Schedule Notes: Wake Forest's Nov. 6 road game against North Carolina is a non-conference contest and precedes a closing stretch of NC State, at Clemson, at Boston College. The Demon Deacons are at home for four of their first five games but close things out with five of seven on the road.
QB: Sam Hartman
Roster Notes: Hartman has some very good receivers to throw to in Jaquarii Roberson and Taylor Morin. The offensive line was shaky last season, particularly with pass protection, but all five starters return so this continuity could turn into a strength. Christian Beal-Smith returns to lead the ground game and should see plenty of work as the Demon Deacons may be in quite a few high-scoring affairs. The defense lost top pass rusher Carlos Basham Jr. but eight starters return. Improvement is needed from a secondary that had its struggles in 2020.
Prediction: Love the over here especially if Wake Forest finds some defense. The Demon Deacons could be 5-1 out of the gate if things break right.
Duke (Over 3.5 -125....Under 3.5 +100)
Non-Conference Games: at Charlotte, North Carolina A&T, Northwestern, Kansas
Schedule Notes: The team doesn't leave North Carolina until Oct. 16 when the Blue Devils head to Charlottesville to face Virginia. Duke also gets North Carolina and Virginia Tech at home in divisional play while Miami and Pittsburgh come to Durham.
QB: Gunnar Holmberg
Roster Notes: David Cutcliffe is a miracle worker with quarterbacks, but he's going to have to do big things with Holmberg, who has seen limited playing time in his career due to injuries. Mataeo Durant is expected to anchor the backfield with Jalon Calhoun and Jake Bobo out wide. The offensive line returns three starters but has plenty of room for improvement. Turnovers were a big issue for this unit last season. The defense lost a lot of production up front and there are questions at linebacker as well outside of Shaka Heyward. The secondary was beset by injuries last season.
Prediction: Slight lean to the over although I need to see some good reports in August from practice.
Georgia Tech (Over 5 -113...Under 5 -113)
Non-Conference Games: Northern Illinois, Kennesaw State, at Notre Dame, Georgia
Schedule Notes: Poor Georgia Tech has to play at Clemson and Notre Dame as well as host North Carolina and Georgia. At least the Yellow Jackets will get the chance to start 2-0 with two early cupcakes.
QB: Jeff Sims
Roster Notes: Sims showed a lot last year as the team continued to transition away from the triple option. He ran for six touchdowns to go with 13 touchdown passes, but also tossed just as many interceptions. Jahmyr Gibbs and Jordan Mason form a solid duo in the backfield, but the offensive line has to open more holes for them. The defense loses last year's leading tackler in David Curry but has six starters back. I think the secondary could be a lot better than it was last year.
Prediction: Lean to the under as the schedule is just ridiculously brutal. Five wins are Georgia Tech's ceiling as I don't see this team going over.
Miami (Over 9.5 +115...Under 9.5 -148)
Non-Conference Games: Alabama (in Atlanta), Appalachian State, Michigan State, Central Connecticut
Schedule Notes: The Hurricanes get four straight at home after opening the season against defending national champion Alabama in Atlanta. After that, Miami alternates road and home contests the rest of the season, including trips to Florida State and North Carolina in ACC play.
QB: D'Eriq King
Roster Notes: King's health is the key for this offense, which is entering year two in coordinator Rhett Lashlee's system. There are plenty of weapons with Mike Harley, Mark Pope, Dee Wiggins, and Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo out wide. Brevin Jordan is gone, but Will Mallory is going to try and continue the tradition of solid tight ends at Miami. The secondary is going to be really good and will be tested right out of the gates against the Crimson Tide. The defensive line will have a new look following the departures of NFL draft picks Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche.
Prediction: I came up with nine or 10 wins for Miami but the worry is if King will be close to 100 percent coming back from a torn ACL suffered in late December.
North Carolina (Over 10 +110...Under 10 -139)
Non-Conference Games: Georgia State, at Notre Dame, Wake Forest, Wofford
Schedule Notes: Things start out interesting with a road trip to Blacksburg on a Friday night. The Tar Heels alternate home and road games over the last six weeks of the season. Miami comes to Chapel Hill on Oct. 16 in a game that could decide the Coastal and UNC gets a bye week before playing in South Bend. That's followed by a visit from Wake Forest for what is a non-conference contest due to a scheduling quirk.
QB: Sam Howell
Roster Notes: A lot on the line for Howell who could be the Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft with another stellar season. To accomplish this he will need to find two new top targets following the departures of Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome. There are plenty of options on the roster no track record. Howell will be supported by an offensive line that returns intact and a new-look running game featuring Tennessee transfer Ty Chandler with Javonte Williams and Michael Carter both in the NFL. The defense returns eight starters but will miss linebacker Chazz Surratt's production and presence. This unit needs to improve after giving up 30 or more points six times (2-4 in those games).
Prediction: Ten is a fantastic number.
Pittsburgh (Over 7 -134...Under 7 +105)
Non-Conference Games: UMass, at Tennessee, Western Michigan, New Hampshire
Schedule Notes: Three of the first four are at home and all are very winnable. The Panthers get Clemson and Miami back-to-back at home to close out October. North Carolina also has to come to Heinz Field in late November. Beware the sandwich game at Duke on Nov. 6 between home dates with the Hurricanes and Tar Heels.
QB: Kenny Pickett
Roster Notes: It feels like Pickett has been in college for 10 years and he's coming off a 13-touchdown, nine-interception campaign. He's got six of his top seven wide receivers back led by Jordan Addison. This is important because the run game has been a massive disappointment. The defense lost a couple of NFL draft picks up front, but the linebackers should be solid. The secondary also will have a new look following the departures of star safeties Damar Hamlin and Paris Ford.
Prediction: Slight lean to the over so shop around and see if there's a better price.
Virginia (Over 6 -135...Under 6 +105)
Non-Conference Games: William & Mary, Illinois, at BYU, Notre Dame
Schedule Notes: Three of the first four games are at home with road trips to Miami and North Carolina coming in ACC play. The Cavaliers host Notre Dame after a bye week in November and get the rival Hokies in Charlottesville on Nov. 27.
QB: Brennan Armstrong
Roster Notes: Last year Virginia allowed the fewest tackles for a loss in the ACC and that offensive line returns virtually intact. Armstrong produced 23 total touchdowns but he needs to improve his decision-making (11 INTs). Keytaon Thompson will be Swiss Army knife as offensive coordinator Robert Anae will move the backup quarterback to other spots. Armstrong needs more support from his running backs and wide receivers. The defense returns seven starters including leaders on every level in end Mandy Alonso, linebacker Nick Jackson, and safety Joey Blount.
Prediction: Six is the number I came up with.
Virginia Tech (Over 7 +105...Under 7 -135)
Non-Conference Games: Middle Tennessee, at West Virginia, Richmond, Notre Dame
Schedule Notes: Much like Miami, Virginia Tech has four in a row at home and plays six of its first seven overall in Lane Stadium. The Hokies host North Carolina to open the season but finish the slate with road games against Miami and Virginia.
QB: Braxton Burmeister
Roster Notes: Burmeister has some weapons to throw to in wide receivers Tayvion Robinson and Tre Turner as well as tight end James Mitchell. The offensive line returns three starters but it remains to be seen how this unit will come together. The defense struggled mightily following veteran coordinator Bud Foster's retirement and had to deal with other obstacles during the season. A parade of players left via the transfer portal after the season so this will be second-year coordinator Justin Hamilton's chance to mold this unit. Clemson transfer Jordan Williams will bolster the defensive line while Vanderbilt transfer Tae Daley joins the secondary. The back end could develop into a strength especially if top cornerback Jermaine Waller can bounce back after an injury-plagued 2020.
Prediction: Seven is a really good number here as well.