ACC Conference Win Totals Betting Picks (2021)

Jul 1, 2021 - 11:06 AM

The ACC has long been dominated by Clemson, Florida State, and Virginia Tech. Of the last 30 ACC football champions, 27 have come from these three schools.

Recently, the conference has been Clemson’s to lose. The Tigers have won the last six ACC titles and, even with Trevor Lawrence having departed for the pros, they should have little problem making it seven in a row in 2021. That said, the conference as a whole is on the rise, and there’s plenty of value in the market that has yet to be exploited. With this in mind, here are my picks for the ACC’s 2021 win totals.

Check out our consensus futures odds for teams to win the ACC >>

Boston College Eagles

Over 7 wins: -140
Under 7 wins: +110

For a team in just their second year under a new head coach, with many holes to fill on an already suspect defense, -140 is a really steep price to pay for over seven wins. 

Jeff Hafley was impressive in his first year at the helm at Boston College, and his more up-tempo offense is way more in line with how ACC football is played. The offense has a chance to take a step forward again this year as well in Phil Jurkovic’s second year under center after transferring from Notre Dame.

The Eagles haven’t won more than seven games since 2009, and I still think they’re a year away from getting Hafley’s recruits into the program and really making some noise in the ACC. Boston College allowed more than six yards per play in 2020, which isn’t close to good enough to slow down even the weakest of ACC offenses. They’ve also lost three top defensive players, putting an improvement on that side of the ball in peril.

Boston College’s offensive line is one of the better units in the conference, but they’ll need to replace Hunter Long in the passing game, and I think that’s a feat that’s harder than it looks on the surface.

PICK: Under 7 (+110)

Clemson Tigers

Over 11.5 wins: +110
Under 11.5 wins: -140

I understand that the Tigers will be breaking in a new quarterback in the post-Lawrence era, but D.J. Uiagalelei is the real deal. He also gained some valuable experience when Lawrence missed time with COVID, including a start in South Bend against the Fighting Irish.

There’s no reason to doubt Dabo Swinney now. Aside from last year when his star quarterback missed time and everyone had to deal with pandemic protocols, Clemson hasn’t finished with fewer than 11 wins since 2014. That’s the last time they weren’t conference champions.

They’ve got a date with Georgia in Week 1. While most are on the Bulldogs to pull the upset, I’m not one of those people. The Tigers will just have to run the table the rest of the way, which hasn’t proven to be all that difficult for Swinney and company. Clemson has just three conference losses in the last six seasons; one came to Notre Dame, which is no longer part of the ACC.

Plus money on Clemson’s win total? Yes, please.

PICK: Over 11.5 (+110)

Duke Blue Devils

Over 3.5 wins: -125
Under 3.5 wins: +100

From 2012-18, Duke had a surprisingly nice run with six bowl appearances. However, the past two seasons have been forgettable, leading coach David Cutcliffe to shake up his staff. After posting just seven wins in 2019-20, the Blue Devils have another mountain to climb in 2021.

The identity of the starting quarterback is still in question, though Chase Brice, a transfer from Appalachian State, is the leader in the clubhouse. While most of Duke’s 2020 offensive line and skill position players are returning, the entire offense will be under new direction with Jeff Faris calling plays.

The Blue Devils should be double-digit underdogs in most, if not all of their ACC games. Their defense allowed 38.1 points per game last year, and with how fast ACC offenses play, we could be in for some seriously high scoring games when Duke is on the field.

The schedule offers two cupcakes in Kansas and North Carolina A&T. Otherwise, it’s tough to find a confident win.

PICK: Under 3.5 (+100)

Florida State Seminoles

Over 5.5 wins: -135
Under 5.5 wins: +105

I can’t believe I’m backing the Seminoles here, given how much they’ve fallen off the map in recent years, but I really like Mike Norvell as a head coach, and I think he did a great job in the transfer portal.

It’s tough to determine how effective McKenzie Milton will be coming off his gruesome leg injury while at UCF, but if he’s close to his old self, he’ll inject life into the Florida State program. I truly believe it’s Norvell’s goal to get this program back to a bowl game, and a schedule featuring four very winnable games should help him accomplish that goal. Beyond that, the Seminoles just need to steal two toss-up games, and I believe their raw talent will push Florida State over the hump.

Chalk up Jacksonville State, Syracuse, and UMass as wins. Then all the Seminoles need is to go 3-2 against Wake Forest, Boston College, North Carolina State, Louisville, and Miami.

PICK: Over 5.5 (-135)

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

Over 5 wins: -110
Under 5 wins: -110

Georgia Tech is entering year three of the post-triple option era. For normal programs, three years under a new coach with his recruits and staff in place is enough time to start winning some games. However, when you’re transitioning from the triple option, the improvement is going to take longer.

The Yellow Jackets have a brutal back-to-back against North Carolina and Clemson in their third and fourth games, and they finish the year against Notre Dame and Georgia. Those are four nearly guaranteed losses in my book, and that opposition will make it really tough for Georgia Tech to put together a hot streak. Facing Miami and Virginia on the road is another disadvantage.

Georgia Tech is still a year away, so I’ll roll with the under here.

PICK: Under 5 wins (-110)

Louisville Cardinals

Over 7 wins: +120
Under 7 wins: -150

I don’t understand this line at all. Despite being extremely heavily juiced to the under, the win total is still far too high. I’m still very comfortable taking the under and laying a few extra cents. If this line was 6 or even 6.5, it would be a different story. For this over to have a chance, Louisville almost has to beat Ole Miss in Atlanta in Week 1, and I don’t expect that to happen.

The Cardinals lost three key skill position contributors on offense including Tutu Atwell, and although their defense is improved from last year’s version that allowed nearly four touchdowns per game, it’s not good enough to be considered a strength.

Many said the 2020 Cardinals were unlucky, but I just don’t think they’re equipped to win close games. A year ago four of Louisville’s seven losses came by a touchdown or less, and their turnover margin was a brutal minus-12. That’s not unlucky, that’s sloppy football causing wins to slip away.

PICK: Under 7 (-150)

Miami Hurricanes

Over 9.5 wins: +110
Under 9.5 wins: -140

Off the bat, I see two losses on Miami’s schedule: Alabama and North Carolina. So if all goes according to plan, Miami must run the table the rest of the way, and that’s a big ask.

Pittsburgh, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech, and Florida State are all capable of taking down the Hurricanes, and at least one of them will. And what about the quarterback? D’Eriq King says he’ll be back for the opener, but even if he is, how long will it take him to bounce back from ACL surgery? I don’t expect him to pick up where he left off; there’s going to be some rust.

Miami’s defense also underwhelmed under Manny Diaz. He’ll take over play-calling on that side of the ball, but it’s hard to predict improvement without seeing any fundamental changes to the scheme. It’s tough to lay -140 on a season-long win total, but I can’t pass on this.

PICK: Under 9.5 (-140)

North Carolina Tar Heels

Over 10 wins: +110
Under 10 wins: -140

UNC is a good football team, and quarterback Sam Howell has a very realistic shot of going number one overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Tar Heels also have the seventh-best odds to make the College Football Playoff, so the sports books recognize this team’s strength and potential.

Realistically, I think this is a push, so I’d rather take the plus-money side and hope Howell plays up to his potential Heisman level while coach Mack Brown pushes many of the right buttons. It’s low confidence, but the Tar Heels have a pretty favorable schedule and a top-15 recruiting class. That should make up for losing some of their best playmakers on offense.

North Carolina could—and probably should—start the year 7-0. They’ll be favored in every game. Then comes the big test against Notre Dame. When these teams played last year, the Irish let the Heels hang around for a half before pulling away in a 31-17 victory. Without Ian Book though, Notre Dame is a different team. I think North Carolina has a legitimate shot to upset the Irish in South Bend. But even without that win, their other tough matchups—Virginia, Miami, North Carolina State—are in Chapel Hill.

PICK: Over 10 (-140)

North Carolina State

Over 6 wins: -150
Under 6 wins: +120

There’s a lot to like about this NC State team, evident by the number of times I’ve plugged them as a “tough matchup.” The Wolfpack defense isn’t anything special, but as I’ve mentioned a few times, points will be put up in this conference. Only Clemson has an elite defense. Everyone else will have to load up on the offensive side of the ball and try to win shootouts.

Expect big things from running back Zonovan Knight. He’ll allow NC State to control a ton of clock—especially late in these shootouts—and keep opposing offenses off the field. The schedule isn’t easy; the Wolfpack have dates with Miami, North Carolina, and a non-conference tilt with Mississippi State. It’s tough to rationalize a win for the Wolfpack against in-state rival UNC, but they can beat Miami, and they can certainly win the ACC-SEC showdown with Mississippi State.

The line of six wins at -150 is a bit strange. I would actually prefer to take the over 6.5 wins if you can find it. It’ll be closer to even money, and after winning eight games in 2020, I see no reason NC State can’t replicate that total in 2021.

PICK: Over 6 (-150)

Pittsburgh Panthers

Over 7 wins: -125
Under 7 wins: +100

Pittsburgh has a very up and down schedule. They draw Clemson, Miami, and North Carolina, but also have a relatively easy non-conference schedule with games against Western Michigan, UMass, New Hampshire, and perhaps their most formidable non-ACC foe, Tennessee. Even if the Panthers drop all three of those tough ACC games, they’ve still got nine games on the schedule to find at least seven wins (for a push), and possibly eight (for a cashed ticket).

The Panthers’ defense was tremendous in 2020, and we should expect more of the same this fall. I mentioned that most ACC defenses are tough to count on, but Pitt’s is an exception. The Panthers were 14th among Power 5 schools in expected points per pass allowed, so they’re well equipped in the secondary to slow down some of these spread offenses and lethal passing attacks.

They’ve also got fifth-year senior Kenny Pickett under center. Pickett hasn’t been anything more than pedestrian, but his experience is valuable and to be honest, he’s got nowhere to go but up. I have the Panthers at 9-3, 8-4 at worst. So if there’s a 7.5 out there at plus-money, I’d consider it.

PICK: Over 7 (-125)

Syracuse Orange

Over 3.5 wins: +105
Under 3.5 wins: -130

The 2020 season was a brutal one for Syracuse. They finished 1-10 and were killed by injuries, opt-outs, and a really bad defense. Ten of the defensive starters will return, but is that a good thing? The Orange allowed more than 460 yards per game last year, and their 2021 schedule isn’t giving them any breaks.

Syracuse will have to deal with Rutgers, a much improved bunch under Greg Schiano, Ohio, a MAC team that always plays their non-conference opponents tough, and Liberty, which features star quarterback Malik Willis. At least Syracuse should beat Albany.

Head coach Dino Babers is on the hot seat. While some see this as motivation for the Orange to overperform, if this team starts slowly as I expect, I can see Syracuse making a change at the helm before the end of the year. Tommy DeVito should start Week 1, but he won’t have a very strong complement of weapons. He and Syracuse certainly won’t have enough to find four wins.

PICK: Under 3.5 (-130)

Virginia Cavaliers

Over 6 wins: -130
Under 6 wins: +105

This is one of my lowest confidence bets in the ACC. This Cavaliers team is so difficult to figure out. Working against them is their schedule. The Cavs travel to Miami, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh in conference, and to BYU and Notre Dame in non-conference play. I wouldn’t be shocked if they dropped all those games, but I also wouldn’t be shocked if they found a way to win a couple of them.

Working in Virginia’s favor is the culture Bronco Mendenhall has created. It’s hard to imagine this team having a losing record, especially coming off their 5-5 finish in the pandemic-altered 2020 season, which was their first without Bryce Perkins. His replacement, Brennan Armstrong, showed a ton of promise and should be able to will Virginia to a few wins in toss-up games.

The Cavs should beat William & Mary, Illinois, Duke, and Georgia Tech for four of the seven wins we need. Even if they finish 6-6, a push isn’t the worst outcome in the world.

PICK: Over 6 (-130)

Virginia Tech Hokies

Over 7 wins: +105
Under 7 wins: -134

The Hokies aren’t a threat to win the conference, but I still expect a winning record in Blacksburg. Their receiving core, one of the strongest in the ACC, features tight end James Mitchell. He’s a matchup nightmare who has a future playing on Sundays. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister should be a lot more comfortable this fall than he was during the COVID-affected 2020 season.

Although Virginia Tech has been under .500 in two of the last three seasons (including a 5-6 mark in ’20), the Hokies haven’t had back-to-back losing years since 1991-92. This is a program that constantly retools. Although the offensive line lost a few key pieces, the dynamic weapons should help Virginia Tech get the ball out quick and move it down the field.

The schedule isn’t all that bad. The Hokies play Notre Dame and West Virginia, but Middle Tennessee State and Richmond are their other two non-conference opponents. If they can split those games, winning eight shouldn’t be an issue. Justin Fuente is in his fourth year as head coach, and the time is now to bring this program back to glory.

PICK: Over 7 (+105)

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Over 6.5 wins: -135
Under 6.5 wins: +105

Wake Forest has been a pest the last few years in the ACC, and I expect more of the same in 2021. Their schedule actually has a bunch of winnable games, even for a team that usually hovers around the lower-middle part of the standings. Old Dominion, Norfolk State, and Army are the Deacons’ out-of-conference opponents. If they go 2-1 in those games, seven wins is highly possible. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take all three.

Their key toss-up games—Florida State, Louisville, and North Carolina State—are all at home. Sam Hartman is a legitimate quarterback and he has a deep receiving corps. Hartman’s connection with Jaquarii Robinson is one that defenses should fear. And while the Deacons allowed nearly five touchdowns per game in 2020, their secondary has the ability to make big plays and change momentum, even in high-scoring games.

PICK: Over 6.5 (-135)

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