There's Clemson and everyone else
I spent a couple of days in Charlotte at ACC Media Days and the prevailing thought was that the conference was going to be ruled by Clemson. Florida State and NC State each has some talent, but still need to rebuild in certain areas if they hope to catch the Tigers. The Coastal, meanwhile, could be a two- or three-team race with Miami, Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech leading the way followed by Duke playing catch up. Let's take a look at the South Point Sportsbook's win total numbers for this conference and see if we can find some value when it comes to the over/under for each team.
Over 6 wins -150...Under 6 wins +130
Non-Conference Games: UMass, Holy Cross, at Purdue, Temple
Running back AJ Dillon was named the preseason player of the year by the media and he's a good place for this offense to start. The Eagles' offense increased its output by five points per game last year. Quarterback Anthony Brown is going to rely on Tommy Sweeney a lot as he's probably the conference's best tight end. Steve Addazio-coached teams are usually known for defense and this year's version at Boston College has six starters back with potential difference-makers at each level. The Eagles have surrendered 25 points or fewer per game in each of the past four seasons. Wins will need to come early with Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and Florida State lined up in a row starting in late October.
Verdict: I really wanted to go under because that price is a bit insane. Unfortunately I came up with 6-7 wins for the Eagles, which means no play.
Over 11 wins -115...Under 11 wins -105
Non-Conference Games: Furman, at Texas A&M, Georgia Southern, South Carolina
The Tigers' best present came this offseason when their defensive line decided to forego the NFL to return to wreak havoc on their opponents. Their front four is so deep and all four starters could be first-round picks next year. If there's any sort of weakness on the defense, maybe it's in the secondary where two starters need to be replaced, but there are no lack of options. Kelly Bryant figures to start at quarterback, but intriguing freshman Trevor Lawrence lurks. Bryant was fantastic for the most part last season and he'll have plenty of weapons to throw to. Hunter Renfrow makes nothing but clutch catches it seems and sophomore Tee Higgins is intriguing as well. This team may want to make their reservations for the College Football Playoff now.
Verdict: Road trips to Georgia Tech and Florida State represent the biggest challenges. The total gives me no room for error, so no play here.
Over 8 wins -105...Under 8 wins -115
Non-Conference Games: Samford, Northern Illinois, at Notre Dame, Florida
Willie Taggart has a quarterback decision of his own as he enters year one in Tallahassee. Deondre Francois put up some good numbers in 2016 but was lost for the season when he got hurt in the '17 opener against Alabama. James Blackman took over, but showed some freshman struggles. He really needed to use this offseason to add some weight to his fame and get into shape. Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick are a solid place to start in the backfield. The offensive line has 90 starts back among the group so this group should take a step forward. The questions come on defense with just three returning starters. Defensive end Brian Burns has been fantastic up front and continues to get better. The Seminoles open up with Virginia Tech at home so they jump right into the proverbial fire.
Verdict: The under might be worth a look here as I think Florida State could end up with seven or eight wins.
Over 7 wins +105...Under 7 wins -125
Non-Conference Games: vs. Alabama, Indiana State, Western Kentucky, Kentucky
Getting Alabama in week one is terrible timing as the team with Louisville breaking in a new quarterback as well as nine starters on defense. Bobby Petrino has done wonders for this team since returning, but this will be his toughest challenge. Jawon Pass is going to be a different QB from Lamar Jackson as he's more of a passer and not as explosive on the ground. Pass does have a strong wide receiving corps to work with, a group that's led by Jaylen Smith, as well as a pretty solid offensive line. Brian VanGorder takes over as defensive coordinator and he's basically starting over. The Cardinals play just four true road games although the opener against Alabama in Orlando, Florida, will probably feel like one as well.
Verdict: The under really looks intriguing, but not at this price. I think Louisville could very easily lose at Virginia and Syracuse. If you think the Cardinals win those, then the over is worth a look.
Over 7 wins -125...Under 7 wins +105
Non-Conference Games: James Madison, Georgia State West Virginia, at Marshall
The Wolfpack probably have the best quarterback in the conference in Ryan Finley. He completed 65 percent of his passes with 17 touchdowns and just six interceptions. Jaylen Samuels is gone but Finley still has Kelvin Harmon and Jakobi Meyers to throw to. The running backs are unproven as well. The losses on defense are significant, as just three starters return and none of those are up front. As good as NC State's defense was last season it has been an issue during Dave Doeren's tenure. The Wolfpack have five of their first six games at home, but the opener against FCS opponent James Madison could be a bit of a banana peel considering how good the Dukes are.
Verdict: I agree with the money move and think the over is the way to go.
Over 5.5 wins -120...Under 5.5 wins EVEN
Non-Conference Games: at Western Michigan, Wagner, UConn, vs. Notre Dame
The Orange's season could go as QB Eric Dungey goes. He's got to make it through 12 games if this team hopes to earn a bowl invite. Dungey got hurt last year and the bottom fell out to end the season. The signal-caller will be working with a reshuffled receiving corps but has some good backfield options in Dontae Strickland and Moe Neal. The defense has six starters back from a unit that allowed 32.2 points per game last year. The secondary has been a weakness in the past but has enough experience returning to make some strides. The opener at Western Michigan will set the tone for Syracuse's season.
Verdict: I think the over is a real nice play here, but that's contingent on Dungey lasting all year. The team has a lot of winnable home games. Of course if they lose to WMU, then this could be another long season.
Over 6.5 wins +105...Under 6.5 wins -125
Non-Conference Games: at Tulane, Towson, Notre Dame, Rice
Wake Forest has the rare five straight at home including another shot at Notre Dame.
The Demon Deacons have never beaten the Irish in their four previous meetings. The defense should be strong once again after taking a step back in 2017. Willie Yarbary is part of a stout defensive line that's good at getting pressure on the quarterback. Dave Clawson's offense should also be pretty good if he can figure out the quarterback position. His candidates are pretty young and don't have a ton of experience. Wide receiver Greg Dortch is healthy after putting up 722 yards and nine TDs as a freshman. Matt Colburn and Cade Carney are bruising running backs.
Verdict: The money move is a good one as I think 6-6 is a realistic expectation. Wake Forest could be slightly worse if the quarterback position doesn't pan out.
Over 6 wins -105...Under 6 wins -115
Non-Conference Games: Army, at Northwestern, at Baylor, NC Central
It's very hard to bet against David Cutcliffe, who is a very good coach despite the losing record at Duke. The Blue Devils went 7-6 last year with four losses coming by seven points or fewer. Quarterback Daniel Jones needs to cut down on the turnovers. He threw 11 interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns last season. Still, Jones has the tools be very good when healthy. Seven of the team's top eight receivers are back but leading rusher Shaun Wilson will have to be replaced. The defense returns seven starters and is led by linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. Duke has to deal with conference road games at Clemson, Miami and Georgia Tech.
Verdict: Slight lean to the under because Duke has some tough road games sprinkled throughout the schedule.
Over 5.5 wins -145...Under 5.5 wins +125
Non-Conference Games: Alcorn State, at USF, Bowling Green, at Georgia
TaQuon Marshall ran the triple option very well last year and is back for his senior season. He's got his top five running backs and an experienced offensive line around him. This could be one of the best offenses the Yellow Jackets have had in several seasons. The defense has six starters back but is changing schemes (from a 4-2-5 to 3-4) under new coordinator Nate Woody. Pressuring the quarterback will be key as the secondary is pretty young and inexperienced. Georgia Tech hosts Clemson and Miami and has road games against Virginia Tech and Georgia.
Verdict: The over is a great play, but not at that price.
Over 9.5 wins +105...Under 9.5 wins -125
Non-Conference Games: vs. LSU, Savannah State, at Toledo, FIU
It's year three for Mark Richt and Miami's feeling great about its future. The team went 10-3 in 2017 and benefited from having seven home games, including late ones against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. The Hurricanes have 13 starters returning, but there are some question marks. Malik Rosier put up some good numbers at quarterback, but he also threw 14 interceptions and struggled during the team's three-game losing streak to end the season. The skill positions feature a ton of talent while the offensive line has three starters back. The defense boats one of the top linebacking corps in the country and two standouts in the secondary in cornerback Michael Jackson and safety Jaquan Johnson. Miami finishes with four of its final six on the road, including back-to-back against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech.
Verdict: The Hurricanes will have a very good season, but I'm looking at nine wins.
Over 5.5 wins -130...Under 5.5 wins +110
Non-Conference Games: at California, at East Carolina, UCF, Western Carolina
The Tar Heels made headlines in Charlotte over head coach Larry Fedora's comments about concussions and the state of football. This could be a shrewd move from the coach to hide the fact that it could be another long season for UNC. Fedora's offense has just five starters back while the defense brings back sevfen. I'm not a huge fan of Chazz Surratt, who should be the starting quarterback unless Nathan Elliott wins the job. Anthony Ratliff-Williams is a very good wide receiver but he's the only established playmaker on that side of the ball. The offensive line has just one starter back so there could be some struggles there. The defense should improve after allowing 31.3 points per game in 2017. The non-conference schedule is really intriguing and features some interesting opponents.
Verdict: At this price, I love the under. I just don't think this North Carolina team is good enough, especially with road games against Miami, Duke and Syracuse on the ACC slate.
Over 5 wins -135...Under 5 wins +115
Non-Conference Games: Albany, Penn State, at UCF, at Notre Dame
The Panthers get three straight and four of their first six at home. It could be a nice tone-setter for the team that has some very difficult games at the end. Pittsburgh's quarterback position will be a question mark with Kenny Pickett back after orchestrating the upset of Miami in last season's finale. Pitt figures to run it a lot with Darrin Hall and Qadree Ollison back as well as fullback George Aston, who the coaching staff thinks is a big piece to the offense. The defense has seven starters back. This unit's struggles in recent seasons have been a surprise considering head coach Pat Narduzzi's background.
Verdict: At this price, I think the under is definitely worth a look. Playing at UCF, Notre Dame and Miami is very tough.
Over 5 wins -110...Under 5 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: Richmond, at Indiana, Ohio, Liberty
The Cavaliers made a bowl game last year, but failed to show up, as they were blown out by Navy. Still, it was a good season after going 2-10 in head coach Bronco Mendenhall's debut. Now Virginia looks to build off of that success with 11 starters returning. Junior college transfer figures to be the starting quarterback and the most intriguing part is that we really don't know too much about him other than the hype coming out of practice. Perkins has good mobility and a good arm as well. Wide receivers Olamide Zaccheus and Joe Reed are the team's top pass catchers. The defense brings back six starters but has to replace linebacker Micah Kiser, safety Quin Blanding and defensive end Andrew Brown. Linebacker should be in good hands with Chris Peace and Malcolm Cook leading the way but there are plenty of questions up front.
Verdict: I think the over is definitely worth a look here as I think there's a good chance Virginia goes undefeated at home. Outside of Louisville and Miami, the slate is full of winnable games against bad teams.
Over 8.5 wins +120...Under 8.5 wins -140
Non-Conference Games: William & Mary, East Carolina, at Old Dominion, Notre Dame
Ask a Hokies fan about Josh Jackson and a lot of them will nitpick the freshman's performance from last season. Jackson had some very nice moments, but wilted a bit down the stretch as Virginia Tech lost three of its final five games. Jackson is back and doesn't really have to look over his shoulder. He probably needs to run the ball less, but production from the running back position has been an issue in recent seasons. Cam Phillips is gone so someone from the young wide receiving corps needs to step up. That could be Eric Kumah, Sean Savoy and/or Damon Hazleton. It's been a rough offseason for the defense, which was already tasked with replacing four NFL draft picks. But since late April, Adonis Alexander put his name in the supplemental draft, Mook Reynolds was kicked off of the team, and incoming junior college transfer cornerback Jeremy Webb was declared out for the season with an Achilles injury. Still, Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators in the nation and he has tackle Ricky Walker to anchor things up front.
Verdict: I think the over is worth a look, maybe. The schedule is very manageable. Virginia Tech closes out with four of its final five in Blacksburg.
-- Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.