ACC Picks, Predictions and Odds
Can anyone catch Clemson? The Tigers have won the last six conference championships, and it’s been 11 years since a representative from the Coastal division lifted the trophy. WagerTalk handicapper Tony Mejia offers his thoughts on the ACC landscape this season from a variety of handicapping angles.
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Team to Watch
With Notre Dame back in the Independent ranks, Clemson will again be looking for someone to join it atop this league as a serious challenger. The Tigers avenged last regular season’s loss to the Fighting Irish in the ACC title game before falling in the national semifinals against Ohio State but lost QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne and the top three most productive receivers from a year ago. DJ Uagaleilei (Ooh-ee-uh-guh-lay-lay) is set to become a household name in taking over for Lawrence, while true freshman Will Shipley looks like he’ll be the primary back. With a game in Charlotte against Georgia to open things up and neither North Carolina or Miami on the schedule, Clemson is likely to go undefeated in ACC play and will be in the national title mix behind a defense that returns nine starters, including DE’s Myles Murphy, Xavier Thomas and DT Bryan Breese up front. You’ll have to deal with some inflated spreads but Clemson is 80-56-3 ATS over the past 10 years and are 79-7 straight up since 2015.
Team to Fade
Mike Norvell’s first team at Florida State was a disaster. The Seminoles finished 2-6 against FBS competition and struggled to defeat the one FCS team on their slate in Jacksonville State. FSU has lost its last four season openers, faltering under Jimbo Fisher, Willie Taggart, and Norvell last year. The ‘Noles will be an underdog at home against Notre Dame on Sept. 5 and have to visit North Carolina and Clemson in addition to Florida in the regular-season finale. Other talented team like N.C. State and Miami come through Tallahassee in November. The offensive line returns intact, but that may not be great news given their struggles blocking up front. That could end up resulting in a rough go of it for UCF transfer McKenzie Milton, who has made it back from a gruesome knee injury suffered years ago and looks to be the guy set to line up under center ahead of Jordan Travis and Chubba Purdy. FSU’s top four returning tacklers are back but the defense gave up 41 or more points in half of their FBS games last season. Norvell should be able to get things turned around at Florida State but given the tough schedule, even a .500 season would be a real achievement in 2021.
— Tar Heel Blog (@tarheelblog) August 16, 2021
Sleeper to Watch
N.C. State could put together a really fun season if sophomore QB Devin Leary makes a big leap. The Wolfpack went 8-4 last year and put together a pair of nine-win seasons under Dave Doeren in 2017 and ’18, so they’ve got a winning culture established in Raleigh. After winning its last four games last season, N.C. State has a promising campaign ahead considering they return 10 starters and are loaded up front. The top 12 tacklers are back and the offense returns the top three rushers and receivers. RB Zonovan “Bam” Knight and WR Emeka Ekezie are all-ACC types. Clemson and North Carolina both come through town and a big start could be in the cards if the Wolfpack can pull off a road win at Mississippi State on Sept. 11.
Player to Watch
North Carolina QB Sam Howell has been the runner-up to Lawrence in terms of all-ACC honors the past two seasons and threw for over 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. He’ll have to roll without top targets Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome for his second sophomore campaign but gets a great weapon in Tennessee transfer RB Ty Chandler to take some pressure off him. Howell hung 41 or more points in six of the last seven regular-season games in 2020, closing with a 62-point explosion against Miami. That gives Howell the edge over Hurricanes’ dual-threat standout D’Eriq King, which segues nicely into the 2021 ACC game of the year.
Game of the Year
The ‘Canes are going to have their Oct. 16 game in Chapel Hill circled after being embarrassed in South Florida in the manner that they were, and it’s very possible that the winner of this Coastal Division clash will wind up opposite Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Manny Diaz’s team had won five straight games prior to getting crushed by the Tar Heels last season and returns their entire offensive line, King, top rusher Cam’Ron Harris and No. 1 receiver Mike Harley in addition to their top three tacklers on defense. Miami will be coming off a bye and will have its entire focus on rattling Howell. The underdog in this series has covered in 12 of the last 17, posting eight outright upsets. If Howell is healthy, Mack Brown’s Heels will likely be favored at home.
|ACC Championship Odds from Caesars||As of August 18|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||+900|
|Miami (Fla) Hurricanes||+1000|
|North Carolina State Wolfpack||+2000|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||+3000|
|Florida State Seminoles||+3000|
|Boston College Eagles||+6000|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||+7500|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||+10000|
|Duke Blue Devils||+15000|
|ACC Regular Season Win Totals||As of August 18|
|Clemson Tigers||11.5 (o +115 / u -135)|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||10 (o +125 / u -145)|
|Miami (Fla) Hurricanes||9.5 (o +135 / u -155)|
|North Carolina State Wolfpack||6.5 (o +110 / u -130)|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||7 (o +110 / u -130)|
|Louisville Cardinals||6.5 (-110 each way)|
|Florida State Seminoles||5.5 (o -130 / u +110)|
|Virginia Cavaliers||6 (o -125 / u +105)|
|Pittsburgh Panthers||7 (o -125 / u +105)|
|Boston College Eagles||7 (o -155 / u +135)|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||5 (o -105 / u -115)|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||6.5 (o -145 / u +125)|
|Syracuse Orange||3 (o -125 / u +105)|
|Duke Blue Devils||3.5 (o -130 / u +110)|
Meet the Capper: Tony Mejia
A leading handicapper in the industry, Tony Mejia has handicapped most major sports and events and got his start by opening his career as a writer at SportsLine.com, which was then bought by CBS. Mejia handicapped under a pseudonym due to compliance issues but also created Mejia’s Selections, a popular feature projecting scores for most major sports. He landed the national NBA beat for CBS SportsLine from 2005-09, so Mejia took a break from handicapping to handle stories and analysis with more of an emphasis on writing. He moved on to Pro Basketball News as a writer/publisher before taking on more of a full-time role at VegasInsider, providing written analysis and winning multiple titles over the course of the season in NFL, NBA, college football, college basketball, and soccer. He utilizes a combination of making his own lines to open the week, seeking discrepancies, tracking weather, injuries, and line movements to try and secure every advantage before getting in on a ticket. He believes watching is the key to it all, so odds are he’s watching a sport if it’s on regardless of whether it’s the Super Bowl or a mid-week college hoops matchup between Quinnipiac and Iona. Mejia was born in Queens, New York, and roots only for the Yankees, Colombia’s soccer team, and the UCF Knights since he attended the University of Central Florida in Orlando. They won a national championship once, whether you believe it or not. Ride Mejia to make some dinero because he’s always hustling to seek out an edge.
WagerTalk’s Live Odds Screen
Since the conclusion of last season’s National Championship game, WagerTalk has continued to improve and enhance our Live Odds screen. Bettors can view the up-to-the-minute odds from a variety of offshore and Vegas-based sports books. Color-coded alerts will let you know when and how a line has moved. Click on the individual cells to view a line history at each sports book. Interested in knowing what a point spread was on a previous game? Use the “archive” feature to find a previous matchup. View real-time odds on nearly every point spread market: Full games, first halves, first quarters, team totals and moneylines.
College Football Offseason Previews
In this week’s edition of The Best Damn College Football Show, Drew Martin and Rob Veno offer an early look toward the ACC Coastal Division. Rob and Drew take a look at the new coaches and quarterback transfers that are coming into the ACC Coastal this season. Who is a mid-pack team that might surprise some people and make a move up this year, and who is a team to fade that might struggle this year?
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