2018 ACC Football Preview: Clemson & Everyone Else?

The college football season is inching closer and there’s no better time than the present to give our opinions on the Atlantic Coast Conference. Let’s check out these ACC entries and see what the oddsmakers are dealing as well.

 

Atlantic Division

Clemson Tigers (2017 record: 12-2, Reg Season Wins 10 ½ O-155, ACC -210, National Championship +450) – There will be plenty to prove for a Tigers team that was ranked No. 1 in the nation but lost in the opening round of the CFP to the eventual national champion, Alabama. Their defense is essentially back intact – the front four could be historically good — from last season, which should worry every other team in the nation. The offense has plenty of weapons and another ACC title is almost a foregone conclusion. A quick check over to our sports betting bible, Sportsbook Review, tells us that the best online sportsbooks are dealing the Tigers as the second choice, behind only Alabama, to win the national title at +450. 2018 Reg Season Prediction: 12-0

NC State Wolfpack (2017 record: 9-4, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ U-155, ACC +2000, National Championship +35,000) – The good news for the Wolfpack is the return of senior quarterback Ryan Finley and an impressive arsenal of receivers, but the bad news is that they’re still in the ACC Atlantic, where second-best is about the best one can hope for when the Clemson Tigers reside in the same space. Prediction: 9-3

Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2017 record: 8-5, Reg Season Wins 6 ½ U-150, ACC +5000, National Championship +40,000) – Quarterback John Wolford saved his best season for last and had a year worthy of his selection as a second-team All-ACC member, but even without him the Deacons are returning a tough offensive line intact which is good news for whomever assumes the starting role. It could be a rough start as the presumed starter Kendall Hilton has been suspended for three games so it will be up to third-year sophomore Jamie Newman or freshman Sam Hartman to seize the day and guide this up and coming program through treacherous waters. Prediction: 6-6

Boston College Eagles (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 6 ½ O-115, ACC +2500, National Championship +50,000) – The Eagles stumbled out of the gates last season with a 2-5 record but then turned it all around by winning five of six to wrap the regular season and scored an invitation to the Pinstripe Bowl, where they lost to Iowa. Boston College has gone 7-6 in four of their last five seasons but don’t be surprised to see regression in ’18 with a quarterback situation that is muddled due to Anthony Brown’s return from surgery on his lower leg and lack of depth at the skill positions. Prediction: 5-7

Louisville Cardinals (2017 record: 8-5, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ U-150, ACC +1600, National Championship +30,000) – Anxiety in Louisville regarding the exit of all-everything quarterback Lamar Jackson to the NFL is unnecessary because his understudy over the last two years is ready for his close-up. Jawon Pass is as cool as the other side of the pillow and although he may not make Redbird fans forget all about Jackson, it wouldn’t surprise if he did. Yeah, he’s that good. Prediction: 8-4

Florida State Seminoles (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ U-140, ACC +900, National Championship +4500) – Head coach Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M and now the new shot-caller is Willie Taggart. A different system recently installed on a team that took some steep hits with Derwin James, Nate Andrews, Tarvarus McFadden and Trey Marshall all departing the secondary, and an offensive line that was subpar with no expectation for improvement, is cause for alarm. Some may be bullish on the Noles but we are not one of them. Prediction: 7-5

Syracuse Orange (2017 record: 4-8, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ U-115, ACC +7500, National Championship +60,000) – Harken back to an October night last year when the Orange greeted the second-ranked team in the nation, Clemson, as 24-point home underdogs, and proceeded to send the Carrier Dome into a frenzy when they claimed a 27-24 victory. Keep that memory precious and hold it dear Syracuse fans during what will be a long, trying season. Prediction: 2-10

Coastal Division

Miami Hurricanes (2017 record: 10-3, Reg Season Wins 8 ½ O-170, ACC +400, National Championship +2800) – Malik Rosier may not be the man under center for Miami this entire season, as redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry and true freshman Jarren Williams will push him if Rosier struggles as he did late last year. Whichever QB will have to take this offense to the next level against the teams that matter. The defense is the star of the show and should be sensational once more (turnover chain!). The U becomes a legitimate player, for the first time in a long time, this season. Prediction: 11-1

Virginia Tech Hokies (2017 record: 9-4, Reg Season Wins 7 ½ O-170, ACC +1600, National Championship +10,000) – Quarterback Josh Jackson’s favorite target last season, Cam Phillips, is now a Buffalo Bill and now one of the Hokie receivers will have to fill that immense void. A solid quarterback, stout defense, and fairly easy schedule should make this a very good season for Tech. Prediction: 9-3

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2017 record: 5-6, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ O-140, ACC +4000, National Championship +60,000) – Tech runs the option and even good teams can have trouble defending it, which makes the Yellow Jackets a team that can pull the upset when the moon and stars align. That said, this defense isn’t deep enough nor the aerial offense dangerous enough to compete in a conference as tough as the ACC. Factor in the unexpected departures, due to medical concerns of starting safety A.J. Gray and offensive tackle Jake Stickler and things just got even murkier down in Atlanta. Prediction: 5-7

Pittsburgh Panthers (2017 record: 5-7, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ -110, ACC +6600, National Championship +50,000) – The Panthers regressed from an 8-4 regular-season record in 2016 to an underwhelming 5-7 slate last year. But this group has produced shocking wins two years running with a monumental victory over Clemson in ’16 and another stunner over Miami in ’17. This edition should be better than last but not as good as two years ago which brings us to a .500 record in 2018. Prediction: 6-6

Virginia Cavaliers (2017 record: 6-7, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ U-160, ACC +10,000, National Championship +100,000) – Arizona State transfer Bryce Perkins is a solid replacement for last season’s cannon-armed QB Kurt Benkert due to his sheer mobility, which will enhance the offense created by head coach Bronco Mendenhall. The Cavs will be cannon fodder for the better teams but will prove a worthy adversary for the rest. Prediction: 6-6

Duke Blue Devils (2017 record: 7-6, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ O-145, ACC +5000, National Championship +60,000) – Duke has seven starters returning on offense with quarterback Daniel Jones and speedster wideout T.J. Rahming leading the way, while linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and cornerback Mark Gilbert are two of the cornerstones on defense set to play another season in Durham. Don’t be surprised if Duke is the Cinderella of the ACC this season. Prediction: 8-4

North Carolina Tar Heels (2017 record: 3-9, Reg Season Wins 5 ½ -110, ACC +10,000, National Championship +55,000) – Head coach Larry Fedora will have his hat in his hand begging for another year of employment if the Heels don’t turn it around this season. The pieces of the puzzle on this North Carolina team are too rough and jagged to resemble anything close to a .500 season. Prediction: 2-10

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