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ACC Futures Picks: Betting Odds and Predictions for 2018-19

Florida State(15 titles) @ Clemson(17 titles)

  • Where: Bank of America Stadium. Charlotte, NC
  • When: December 1, 2018 7:30 pm EST
  • Moneyline: Clemson -190 Miami +550 Florida State +900 Virginia Tech +1400 Georgia Tech +4000 NC State +3300 Louisville +3300 Boston College +4000 Duke +5000 Wake Forest +5000

At some point, MSB’s conference-winner picks might seem to contradict the analysis found in our national title futures betting preview. Time passes and opinions change, but it isn’t all by accident.

Successful handicapping is about determining the real odds of a given result, which can in-turn inform a smart wager that has a high-percentage chance to pay off. It’s not about predicting the winner, per se. It’s also not about hitching one’s wagon to a team, school or franchise and “believing in” them, because there’s no destined outcome.

A program with a high level of consistency but a relatively-low ceiling might make a terrific conference-winner or O/U win-total pick but also a lousy futures gamble to win the College Football Playoff. A school with a Schrodinger’s Cat situation at QB could make a nice long-shot CFP pick, assuming the team could conceivably get very hot if things work out in the backfield. But the same squad might make a bad league-winner choice at less high-payoff odds if they’ve got a tough division or a fierce rival to deal with.

As for today’s preview, the Atlantic Coast Conference doesn’t house any of the 3 schools we’re touting as national title picks. That doesn’t mean the league isn’t stacked with excellent programs. Remember, handicapping isn’t a summation of who the best teams are. But a thinning ledger of proven next-level QBs going into 2018 has pundits wondering if the ACC is losing its biggest – and perhaps only – trump card vs the SEC.

Here’s an up-to-date rundown on a few familiar ACC conference powers…and another that could surprise on the gridiron (and win long-shot futures bets) in 2018.

Clemson Tigers (-190 Odds-to-win ACC Championship Game)

There’s a lot to like about the Tigers’ personnel headed into the fall of 2018.

QB Kelly Bryant may not have the open-field speed and elusiveness of predecessor Deshaun Watson, but the 21 year old is an excellent passer and crafty runner who got some big-time seasoning in 2017-18 despite the eventual playoff loss.

Blocking should remain solid, and coaches are excited about an up-and-coming batch of sophomore and junior WRs. Tailbacks like Travis Etienne will punish any defense that overcommits to the coverage game.

Clemson’s powerful defensive line is comprised mostly of NFL prospects like Christian Wilkins, Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell. Linebacker is another bright spot. Kendall Joseph would likely have been drafted by The Shield but chose to stay in South Carolina another year.

But the biggest factor in the program’s success continues to be coaching. Swinney’s teams run the same offense as 100 other FBS schools – shotgun read-options, quick screens and downfield passes. But they do it better. There’s nothing all that unique about Clemson’s front-7 scheme, but the players are taught to read, react, shed blocks and tackle like the annual national-title contenders they are.

I’m just not sure if the Tigers deserve a wager at (-190) when many other plausible ACC winners are at 5/1 payoff odds or better. The best thing Clemson has going for it at such short odds is belonging to the Atlantic Division, which is looking weaker-than-advertised in ’18.

Miami Hurricanes (-550)

Coach Mark Richt is another example of a skipper who doesn’t believe in “different,” just “better.”

His Miami Hurricanes play college football by the book, but their tome reads bigger, faster and more dynamic than most.

Credit Richt’s recruiting prowess. The former Georgia skipper has rebuilt The U’s 2-deep roster with talents like WR Ahmmon Richards, who caught around 1000 yards’ worth of passes as a freshman in 2016. The defense is stacked with vicious edge-rushers like Jonathan Garvin.

The ‘Canes are all-but-anointed in the press as a major bowl team in 2018-19. But that might be Richt’s old SEC media connections working their magic. The program has major questions at quarterback, where unproven freshman N’Kosi Perry is likely to start. The interior defensive line has been lost to graduation, and while frosh PK Bubba Baxa may have the best name and the strongest leg of any teenage kicker in the country, he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn last season.

Freshman QBs play better when the team opens against a cupcake, allowing the youngster to get the feel of big-time FBS football in a stress-free setting. Miami opens against LSU on September 2nd. Cough.

Florida State Seminoles (+900)

FSU is another talented team that could have some key factors ruling them out as a strong conference-winner wager. Cam Akers is a tremendous young tailback who ran for over 1000 yards in 2017.

Deondre Francois is a dynamic QB who is still on the roster after missing most of 2017 with an injury. DT Demarcus Christmas will anchor a Seminole defense that has plenty of speed and talent in the defensive backfield.

But Francois is still recovering and is not a lock to begin the season as the starter behind center. DBs Derwin James and Tarvarus McFadden have left for the NFL instead of playing out their senior seasons in Tallahassee. The wide receiver position is thin, and coach Willie Taggart – who bolted Oregon before bowl season for a larger paycheck – might be the most overrated skipper in the FBS.

ACC Sleeper Picks: 2018 Conference Winner Futures

Click here to bet on the BC Eagles to win the ACC title in 2018 and enjoy a welcome bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

All 3 favorites listed above seem to offer poor value in the odds. Picking a Clemson at around half-wager payoff and then hoping against hope they don’t slip in conference play feels like a bummer.

Miami and FSU are bigger question marks than the hype is letting on, and mid-card contenders like Virginia Tech and NC State are unlikely to play perfect football for the 5 or 6-week span that an ACC title would require.

Betting value  lies mostly in a true sleeper – Boston College at (+4000) odds.

Head coach Steve Addazio doesn’t have a sparkling overall record with BC, but he has patiently built an improved 2-deep roster while taking the school to several bowl games since 2013. Last season, the Maroon & Gold beat Lamar Jackson and Louisville 45-42, demolished Florida State 35-3 in one of the most stunning blow-outs in ACC history, and took NC State and Iowa to the limit in November and December respectively.

QB Anthony Brown’s knee injury may keep him sidelined for much of September. But if Brown heals and gets back on the field, he’ll keep the Eagles flying in the right direction. AJ Dillon is a fabulous veteran RB, and a powerful defense returns the bulk of its size, speed and experience in 2018.

Boston College opens with a pair of home games against UMass and Holy Cross before the conference slate begins at Wake Forest. That’s perfect for a team needing to phase-in its star quarterback.

At 40-to-1 payoff the Eagles are a perfect spare-change futures bet with a jackpot in the offing.

FSU and Clemson can soak in the hype. We’ll go with a lunch-bucket program that could potentially eat the ACC Atlantic Division for dinner in 2018.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.

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