College football is back, and that means so is gambling on college football. (Sorry, NCAA!) Whether you are a casual fan who likes to have an idea what the lines are for the week or a hardcore gambler looking for an edge - in which case you are probably in the wrong place - you have come to the right place!
Each week we’ll take a look at what Vegas and other oddsmakers have to say about the various ACC matchups for that week, including the Virginia Cavaliers, and I’ll give you my expert advice (actually, legal says I probably shouldn’t say that) on which side of the spread to pick. Follow my advice to a T and you’re guaranteed to win money (again, legal says I can’t say that).
Lopsided FBS-FCS Matchups:
Furman @ #2 Clemson (Saturday, 12:20 PM)
Spread: Clemson -48.5
Alcorn State @ Georgia Tech (Saturday, 12:30 PM)
Spread: Georgia Tech -43.5
Albany @ Pittsburgh (Saturday, 3:30 PM)
Spread: Pittsburgh -24
UMass @ Boston College (Saturday, 1PM)
Spread: Boston College -18.5
Three ACC teams start their year with especially lopsided matchups against FCS foes. Clemson, an almost unanimous pick to win the ACC Coastal, almost covered a spread this large in the National Championship game last season and should coast, even against a relatively serviceable Furman squad.
Georgia Tech won’t put up video game points as easily; it’s been 3 years, since the start of the 2015 season, since they scored over 43 points. Bill Connelly forecasts a 36 point win; easy, but not enough to cover this large spread.
Pitt started last year by playing overtime against Youngstown State. We won’t be giving them the benefit of the doubt again.
BC returns a promising roster coming off two consecutive seasons with six or more wins, led by ACC Rookie of the Year AJ Dillon. They should start off the year strong against UMass, who will actually be playing their second game of they year; they crushed Duquesne 63-15 at home on Saturday.
Alcorn State +43.5
Boston College -18.5
Other FBS and Group of Five Opponents:
Wake Forest @ Tulane (Thursday, 8PM)
Spread: Wake Forest -7
Syracuse @ Western Michigan (Friday, 6PM)
Spread: Syracuse -6
Army @ Duke (Friday, 7PM)
Spread: Duke -13.5
James Madison @ NC State (Saturday, 12 PM)
Spread: NC State -13.5
Richmond @ Virginia (Saturday, 6 PM)
Spread: Virginia -12
Wake Forest and Syracuse both hit the road to start the year, heading to Tulane (5-7 in 2017) and Western Michigan (6-6), respectively. As Will noted in this week’s ACC POWER rankings, Western Michigan is just 16 spots behind Cuse in S&P+, and this one could get dicey out in Kalamazoo.
Duke fell to Army 21-16 last season, and the Black Knights should be solid once again. Duke should take care of business at home this time around, but I don’t feel great about their offense covering a 13.5 point spread.
Despite making the 2017 FCS Championship, JMU faces a tough early-season task, heading to Raleigh to play NC State. The Wolfpack would be a serious ACC Atlantic contender if Clemson didn’t have the conference on lockdown, and will squash JMU’s upset bid.
No idea why UVA is only 12 point favorites at home against Richmond, but I don’t love it. Hoos don’t lose, Hoos do cover.
Wake Forest -7
Western Michigan +6
NC State -13.5
North Carolina @ California (Saturday, 4 PM)
Spread: California -7.5
Louisville vs. #1 Alabama (Saturday, 8 PM)
Spread: Alabama -25
#8 Miami vs. #25 LSU (Sunday, 7:30 PM)
Spread: Miami -3
Okay, “showdown” is a little generous for UNC’s game out at Cal, since both teams figure to finish in the bottom half of their respective conferences. But for the season opener at home, I like Cal to take down the Tar Heels, making a cross-country trip with a young squad, fairly easily.
Even without Lamar Jackson, Louisville has the horses to finish in the top half of the ACC. But they have nowhere near the playmakers to hang with Alabama.
The real intrigue comes Sunday night, when Miami heads to Arlington, TX to take on LSU in the AdvoCare classic. The game figures to be a battle, and likely a low-scoring one. This game’s a toss-up in my mind, so I’ll take the points and bet LSU.