2013 ACC Football Predictions and Futures Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 8/16/2013
The Atlantic Coast Conference used to be a pretty respectable league. Now they are nothing more than the SEC’s half-witted cousin. There is a load of top-flight individual talent in this conference, as indicated by their NFL Draft picks and preseason awards finalists, but on the whole the ACC is one of the least predictable and least stable leagues in the country.
This year should be a two-horse race between Clemson and Florida State. Perpetually rebuilding Miami is another team with some preseason buzz, and Virginia Tech has a clear path to the ACC Championship Game. But if those first three programs are good for anything it is complete and total meltdowns on their way to underachieving seasons.
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The same can be said for the entire ACC, which is a pitiful 2-13 in BCS bowl games.
After that top tier is just a gob of mediocrity. Truly, how do you separate Maryland from North Carolina State from Boston College from Pittsburgh from Syracuse? You can’t. And as a result the ACC should again be one of the best conferences in football for underdog bettors and moneyline upset picks.
The Favorite: Clemson (+200)
Clemson’s dynamic duo of quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins give the Tigers an advantage against just about any opponent they face this year. Watkins should bounce back from an injury- and scandal-plagued season and flash his freshman form. Boyd is a three-year starter and did a great job with his decision-making last season. This team will miss Andre Ellington in the running game. But Clemson has a very talented offensive line to help out. The big question for the Tigers is on defense. Six starters return, but they lost four of their top-six tacklers and will have three new starters in the secondary. The Tigers have a chance to throw themselves into the national title race with an opening-week win at home over Georgia. If the Tigers do that, then their Oct. 19 home game against Florida State and a regular-season finale at South Carolina should be their only impediments. But then again, we’ve seen this before from the Tigers, the Kings of August. They finally managed to break through in the last two years and reach their potential. We will see if Dabo Sweeney can keep this group focused this season.
The Challenger: Florida State (+250)
Jimbo Fisher had a breakout season in 2012, leading the Seminoles to 12 wins and a BCS victory (albeit over Northern Illinois). Florida State finally seemed to cash in on the promise and potential that they had displayed throughout the last 10 years, and it was a big season for them. But while some people are quick to say Florida State football is “back,” I am a bit more skeptical. This program has underachieved too many times for me to buy back in. And they lost a ton of talent, with 11 players going to the pros. FSU is breaking in a new quarterback, and they have just four starters back from a ferocious defense. But once again they have the best offensive line in the ACC and enough speed and skill talent to be dangerous. Florida State also has just four ACC road games, and they will likely be double-digit favorites in three of them (at Pitt, at B.C. and at Wake). Right now the difference between them and Clemson is that the Tigers host the big meeting this year. But FSU does have a bye week to prepare, and they did beat them handily last year.
The Dark Horse: Virginia Tech (+700)
It may not be, but this feels like an important season for the Hokies. Their 7-6 mark in 2012 was their worst since 2003 (8-5) and snapped a streak of eight straight season with 10 or more victories. Frank Beamer knows how to coach and is one of the best in the business. He will have to work with shaky Logan Thomas and an offense devoid of experienced skill players. He also welcomes back nine defensive starters, but that’s from a defense that was one of the worst Tech had seen in a decade. Based on my statistical indicators, Virginia Tech overachieved from 2009-2011. An easy schedule and playing in a feeble conference seemed to be their greatest strengths. This year we will see if 2012 was an aberration or the start of a regression. The good news for the Hokies is – surprise, surprise – that they play a favorable schedule. They avoid both Clemson and Florida State out of the Atlantic and should find their way to the ACC Title Game. But once they are there they will need to prove that they are legit and the ACC’s best.
The X-Factor Horse: Miami (+350)
Much like Florida State, we have been hearing that Miami football is “back” for at least 10 years now. But until I actually see this group make it through a season without slamming its face into the wall I refuse to believe it. That said, this year is as good of a time as any. It is Al Golden’s third season, and his roster is stocked with experience. Miami has 18 returning starters, including 10 on offense, and they are in the Top 10 in terms of most experienced clubs in the country. Will any of that translate into wins? Who knows? Miami has gone just 20-17 the last three seasons. They should be motivated by not playing in a bowl last year. And outside of a trip up the road to Tallahassee, Miami gets its toughest opponents in Coral Gables. This team overachieved last year and went 8-3-1 against the spread. They are on everyone’s radar going into the season, and I don’t know how much value this streaky team actually has.
The Disappointment: Syracuse (+6600)
How can a team with +6600 odds be a disappointment in the league? Well, I suppose it can’t. But since I don’t see any of the top teams faltering too much, I had to troll through the rest of the mediocrity to find someone that may not surpass their modest expectations. After eight wins and a bowl blowout over West Virginia, the feeling was that the Orange program was restored and that Syracuse was ready to take on the ACC. But then coach Doug Marrone bolted to Buffalo and left a paper-thin roster behind him. Syracuse has no quarterback, no receivers and no offensive line to build around. And even though new coach Scott Shafer is a defensive wiz, there isn’t a lot of talent on that side of the ball as well. The Orange have earned bowl wins in two of the last three years. However, even though they are stepping down in class to the ACC I think the Orange are in for a long year.
North Carolina (+900) – I am a big fan of quarterback Bryn Renner, and the Tar Heels have done well to keep their head above water the last few seasons in the face of some off-field distractions. The Tar Heels are in their second year under Larry Fedora, and things should feel a lot more stable for them. UNC also avoids Florida State and Clemson for the second straight season, and they swept rivals Virginia Tech and Miami last year. They open the season with three of five on the road, including a brutal opener at South Carolina and road trips to face Georgia Tech and to Blacksburg. But they close with five of seven games at home after a bye week, and this could be a big late-season momentum team.
Georgia Tech (+1000) – I am looking forward to what Paul Johnson can do with this Tech team. The Jackets faithful have not embraced Johnson, and his option system is still seen as a gimmick in a lot of college football circles. But Johnson gets the most out of his talent and is always one of the best bets in college football in an underdog role. He has a very experienced offensive line and 16 of his top 19 tacklers back in the fold. Tech improved after switching defensive coordinators midseason, and I think that they will play with a chip on their collective shoulders all season long.
Pittsburgh (+3300) – The Panthers are the other new members of the ACC, and they will bring Big East pride into this new league. Unfortunately, that’s about all they will bring. The Panthers have to replace savvy quarterback Tino Sunseri and bell cow running back Ray Graham among six lost offensive starters. Pitt has a sound defense and some statistical indicators pointing towards a better season. But they have to play eight straight games with no bye weeks to close the year, and they may only be favored in two of those games. With tilts against FSU, at Virginia Tech and at Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Miami, I think Paul Chryst will be fortunate to go bowling.
Virginia (+3300) –Mike London is a crafty coach. He kept his team from bottoming out last year in what was clearly a rebuilding season. But last year’s losses may have galvanized this young group. Virginia has 16 starters back, and if they can get consistent quarterback play from either David Watford or Philip Sims then they could be in business. Virginia only has four road games all season, and right now I think they are being undervalued a bit.
Maryland (+6600) – It is Year 3 for Randy Edsall, and it is time for him to show some progress after a 6-18 start. Granted, a bizarre run of injuries at the quarterback position sabotaged Maryland’s 2012 season. But I still don’t understand why Edsall left Connecticut, where his team’s always overachieved, to take over this mediocre Maryland program. The return of veteran quarterback C.J. Brown is crucial for this team. And so is a fast start, or the buzzards may start circling Edsall. The Terps have a pair of revenge games UConn and West Virginia this September. Some college analysts are high on this team, but I still think it will be a struggle for them to snap a two-year bowl drought in their last season before bolting to the Big Ten.
Boston College (+7500) –New coach Steve Addazio will have to clean up the mess that Frank Spaziani left behind. The Eagles are short on skill and talent but long on experience and toughness. They welcome back 10 defensive starters from one of the worst B.C. stop units of the last 20 years. But I expect marked improvement on that side of the ball. Senior quarterback Chase Rettig needs to make better decisions and show marked improvement because he doesn’t have a lot to work with on offense. But this team is loaded with seniors that have seen their win total dip in three straight seasons. This is their last chance to make a statement, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles spring an upset or two.
North Carolina State (+5000)–Tom O’Brien is out after six lackluster years at the helm. (Like Edsall with Connecticut, I don’t think O’Brien ever should’ve made the lateral move from Boston College.) New coach Dave Doeren really doesn’t have much to work with as he inherits just five senior starters. But he does inherit one of the easier schedules in the league. If State can sweep its four nonconference games – not a given with Louisiana Tech and Central Michigan on the card – then they just have to steal a couple wins for bowl eligibility. Doeren comes over from Wisconsin, and it will take him at least a year or two to weed out players and recruit guys that will fit his system.
Wake Forest (+10000) –This is the type of team that Jim Grobe has been known to work wonders with. This is an upperclassmen-dominated lineup and a team that made a bowl game two seasons ago. Wake Forest also has one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country in one-man-gang Tanner Price. Price had a big 2011 but regressed somewhat last year. He needs to play at peak performance. If he does then there are definitely six wins on this schedule, and I think that Wake will be bowling again this December.
Duke (+10000) –David Cutcliffe is fighting the good fight. But at the end of the day this is still Duke. They will benefit from their extra bowl practices, and this team does return 14 total starters. But their easiest games are on the road this year, and this team is going to have problems stopping people. Also, after making a bowl last year – the first bowl game for Duke since 1994 – this could be a letdown season. I don’t think Duke is going to be able to sneak up on anyone this year. And unless they beat Navy on Oct. 12, I think there is little chance for back-to-back bowl appearances.
2013 ACC Conference Predictions: Predicted Order of Finish
1. Florida State
3. Boston College
5. Wake Forest
6. N.C. State
1. Virginia Tech
2. Georgia Tech
4. North Carolina
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Robert Ferringo is a lead writer for Doc’s Sport and he has earned over $9,000 in football profit for his clients over the last 15 football months. He went 5-1 last week with his NFL preseason selections and will have an 8-Unit and a 5-Unit NFL futures bet released this week. Also, for the first time ever, Robert will release selections from his incredible KING College Football Betting System. (Learn more HERE.) We are so confident that you will be amazed by this moneymaking system we are going to give you a free, no-strings-attached $60 credit to use toward a purchase of Robert’s football selections. CLICK HERE for $60 absolutely free!
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