Since 2011, it has been easier to project the champion of the Atlantic Coast Conference than any of the other Power 5 leagues around college football. Simply project which of Florida State or Clemson wins the annual Atlantic Division Game of the Year, and then that school will take the Atlantic Division crown and beat a weak sister from the Coastal Division in the ACC title game.
Either Clemson or Florida State has won the Atlantic every year since 2009 and either the Tigers or Seminoles have won the ACC title game since 2011. Just so you know, FSU hosts Clemson on October 27 this year and the home team usually prevails in that rivalry. However, the Tigers have won the past three meetings and are -227 favorites on the odds to win the ACC championship at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The 2018 Tigers could have one of the best defensive lines in NCAA history with some projecting that all four starters – Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant – could be first-round picks. Ferrell and Lawrence definitely should be. Clemson has become the Alabama of the ACC in terms of recruiting prowess, and the school is coached by an Alabama grad and former walk-on player Dabo Swinney. Many believe he would leave Clemson for just one other job: His alma mater.
Clemson should be favored in every game, although in Tallahassee it’s possible that Florida State is by then. The only other realistic shot at a regular-season loss for the Tigers is September 8 out of conference at Texas A&M.
Miami is the +650 second-favorite to win the ACC, shortest odds for a Coastal Division team. The Hurricanes reached the ACC title game for the first time in school history last year but were down a couple of key offensive players due to injury and were no match for Clemson in a 38-3 loss. UM started 10-0 last year and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the College Football Playoff Top 25 before fading late.
This should be coach Mark Richt’s most-talented team in his third season at his alma mater. Miami could be favored in every game except perhaps November 17 at Virginia Tech. Florida State visits south Florida this year. No Clemson on the schedule.
FSU is +800 on the ACC championship odds, with Louisville and Virginia Tech both at +1600. Hard to remember that the Seminoles were a preseason Top 5 team last year but injuries ruined them. The school also has to replace mega-successful coach Jimbo Fisher, who left for Texas A&M (so he can potentially ruin Clemson’s season again).
Louisville begins life without superstar quarterback and former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, now a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens. The loser of the Virginia Tech at Florida State opener on September 3 is going to face a very tough challenge right off the bat to reach the ACC title game.
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