Another season has dawned and with it another opportunity to bet (read: lose money) on ACC football. We had a decent run in the college basketball season, but college football is a whole different ballgame. Given the volume of basketball games, the game lines tend to be less efficient whereas in college football, with a high concentration of betting on a low volume of games each week, game lines tend to be pretty sharp. Never the less, scared money don’t make money, so let’s roll.
Week One in college football is usually left to one or two good games accompanied by ten or so games against FCS competition. Not this year. Thanks to the ACC Network, the ACC opens with a bang and our game against Pitt is one of the headliners. The game between these two teams is usually a slog, and this one shouldn’t be any different with the UVA defense being extremely stout and Pitt breaking in a new offense. For that reason, I do like the under, but also think the Hoos get a W here in fairly convincing fashion.
Pick: Virginia -2.5
I’m bullish on Florida State this year and while Boise State comes in with lofty expectations as well and are always solid, the Seminoles will be too much in this one. Add to that the game will be in Tallahassee instead of Jacksonville as Hurricane Dorian threatens the Florida coast. Furthermore, it will be a Noon kickoff as opposed to 7 P.M. After all that, this becomes pretty simple. Team from Idaho, traveling east for a Noon start, in August, in Florida, for a true road game. Yeah, I’m taking the ‘Noles.
Pick: Florida State -6.5
East Carolina Pirates @ North Carolina State Wolfpack
NC State -17; Over/Under 52
We’re only an offseason removed from NC State dismantling the Pirates 58-3 back in December. However the two teams will look starkly different than they did nine months ago. East Carolina welcomes a new head coach in Mike Houston, and NC State turns to Matthew McKay as its new quarterback. The game will be closer than last season’s, but that isn’t saying much, and the Wolfpack can still easily cover the number. But I’m going to look to the over. 52 isn’t much with a 17 point spread and a team like East Carolina who might not be as bad as they showed a season ago.
Pick: Over 52
No offense to Duke, who is a very solid program, but the decision for them to match these two teams in the Atlanta opener must have been made on a Sunday when nobody from Chick-Fil-A was working. In a game that usually pits two of the ACC and SEC’s best, we get a game with a 33.5 point spread. BUT, Duke is frisky. Nick Saban won’t show all his cards early, and I like the Blue Devils to play hard the whole time and cover the very large number.
Pick: Duke +33
Last time we saw the South Carolina Gamecocks in Charlotte, they were getting run off the field against our beloved Cavaliers in the Belk Bowl. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels stumbled to a 2-10 record. Both those facts aren’t indicative of how good those teams really were. UNC was killed by injuries and underachieved while South Carolina ran into a buzz saw and probably didn’t take the game as seriously as they should have. This one is all about the quarterbacks and while UNC is going to be better, give me the Senior Jake Bentley over the true Freshman Sam Howell.
Pick: South Carolina -11
Is there something I’m missing here? The game total for this one is 58? When I think back to the classic ACC rivalries, this is a game I generally don’t associate with high scores. And indeed that recollection is proven correct. Only once in their last nine meetings have these two cross-division rivals gone over 58 points and only three times in that span have the teams combined to score over 50 points. So, I’m going to go with history here and say the two don’t rack up the points.
Pick: Under 58.5
Syracuse Orangemen @ Liberty Flames
Syracuse -19; Over/Under 68
Looking at this game, I still have to remind myself that Liberty plays big boy football. To host Syracuse is not something I would have thought I’d see just 10 years ago. But here we are. After having faced some solid competition over the last couple years (Auburn, UVA, Army, Baylor to name a few), the Flames won’t be intimidated against the Orangemen. It’s also the biggest home football game in Liberty history. Given that, along with Syracuse breaking in new quarterback Tommy DeVito, I think Liberty keeps it close enough to stay within the number.
Pick: Liberty +19
Monday Sept 2nd
Finally we come the annual ACC Labor Day night game. This year the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (not in the ACC) visit the Louisville Cardinals. It will be the debut for Cardinal head coach Scott Satterfield and it will be no welcoming party. Louisville might not win more than two games like they did a season ago, but they will play better football. That team quit on Bobby Petrino and who could blame them? However, there will just be too much talent on the other side for Notre Dame who look to kick off a hopeful College Football Playoff campaign in style.
Pick: Notre Dame -18