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ACC Betting: Take the Road Team
by Ben Burns - 06/29/2010
Home-field advantage in the ACC isn’t worth a poop.
Over the last three seasons, only three of the conference’s 12 teams posted a winning ATS record
Boston College is the best of the bunch at home. Thriving in the vaunted atmosphere
of (let me look it up) Alumni Stadium, the Eagles are 12-6 ATS at home since 2007.
Georgia Tech has been by far the best ACC team to bet on the road, especially the past two
seasons under Paul Johnson. Since ’07, the Jackets are 12-4 ATS away, and 9-2 ATS on the road
Why can’t the ACC cover the spread at home? Well, first, we’re not exactly talking about the
most raucous venues in the nation. Off the top of your head, how many can you name? Over/
under is five.
Another reason could be what some pundits call balance and competitiveness. No matter the
home-field atmosphere, if your players aren’t significantly better than your opponent’s, it’s hard
to cover even a 3.5-point spread.
But don’t mistake balance and competitiveness for quality. The fact is the ACC is a second-tier
conference. It lacks a legitimate national championship contender (No, Virginia Tech and Miami
don’t count) and is full of teams that consistently fail to meet oddsmakers’ expectations at home,
a bunch of teams that fail to protect their house with authority.
On the positive side, eight teams return their starting quarterback this season. Va. Tech, Florida
State and Miami have game-changers in Tyrod Taylor, Christian Ponder and Jacory Harris
respectively. Georgia Tech’s option is in good hands with Joshua Nesbitt, and North Carolina
State expects a bounce-back year from junior Russell Wilson, the 2008 ACC Freshman of the
However, most of the conference’s elite talent is on defense, including North Carolina’s
threesome of future NFL first-rounders in tackle Marvin Austin and linebackers Quin Sturdivant
and Bruce Carter.
Despite past disappointments, expectations are high in the ACC this year. Many of the
preseason rankings have four teams in the top 25, with both Miami and Virginia Tech in the top
10. But, if the past few seasons have taught us anything, it’s don’t invest in the hype. This is still
a second-tier conference, with a handful of potentially really bad teams. In Sporting News’ Top
100 rankings, Maryland and Wake Forest are ranked behind Army. That’s a stretch, but you get
ACC Odds and Ends
(ATS records are from last three years).
ATS: 15-21 (Home: 6-11. Away: 8-9)
Thing to remember: The Hurricanes haven’t posted a winning ATS record since 2004. They’re
a public favorite, which generally means line inflation. Adding to that inflation, most people
believe this is Randy Shannon’s best team. We’ll find out early how good they are at Ohio State
on Sept. 11
ATS: 20-17-2 (Home: 7-8-1. Away: 9-5-1)
Thing to remember: We’ll find out quickly if the Hokies’ inexperienced defense that returns
just four starters is ready. Virginia Tech opens against Boise State and its 10 returning offensive
starters on Sept. 6.
ATS: 18-16 (Home: 6-7. Away: 7-8)
Thing to remember: Butch Davis heads into his fourth year at North Carolina and has had plenty
of time to stock the cabinet. In his fourth year at Miami, the ‘Canes went 8-3 SU and 7-3 ATS.
The Tar Heels boast a conference-high 19 returning starters.
ATS: 20-15-1 (Home: 7-9-1. Away: 12-4)
Thing to remember: Coach Paul Johnson has a knack for motivating his troops after a loss. At
Navy, the Midshipmen went 16-10-1 ATS off a straight up loss under Johnson. Georgia Tech is
5-0 ATS after a straight-up loss under Johnson.
ATS: 17-15-1 (Home: 5-9-1. Away: 11-6)
Thing to remember: Coach David Cutcliffe never recovered from losing Eli Manning at Old
Miss. The Rebels went 4-7 SU after Manning left for the NFL and Cutcliffe would get the ax.
Heading into his third year at Duke, Cutcliffe again must replace a star quarterback in Thaddeus
Lewis. Incumbent Sean Refree saw some action last year, but tore his ACL late in the year
against Georgia Tech. He was not at full strength during spring practice, but is expected to ready
to start the season. His back-ups are both freshmen.
ATS: 18-17 (Home: 8-10. Away: 9-7)
Thing to remember: A new era begins with coach Mike London making the jump from FCS
Richmond to the BCS at Virginia. The Cavaliers return just 12 starters, tied with Virginia Tech
and North Carolina State for the fewest in the conference.
ATS: 16-20 (Home: 4-11. Away: 7-9)
Thing to remember: The ‘Noles, under first-year head coach Jimbo Fisher, are going to score
some points. They return all five starters on the offensive line to protect Ponder. But there
are some major question marks on a defense that surrendered 30 points a game last year. The
Seminoles should produce some good over possibilities.
ATS: 19-19 (Home: 12-6. Away: 6-8)
Thing to remember: Keep your ears open for linebacker Mark Herzlich’s return. The 2008
ACC Defensive Player of the Year missed all of last year battling a rare form of cancer, but is
expected to get back on the field this year. His return will be a gigantic emotional lift for the
Eagles, one probably worth at least a field goal to the line.
ATS: 18-18 (Home: 9-8. Away: 8-6)
Thing to remember: Keep an eye on the quarterback situation. Last year’s starter Kyle Parker
was drafted by the Rockies in the first round. Heading into July, Parker seemed to be leaning
toward focusing solely on baseball. If he leaves, Clemson is hurting, with either unproven senior
Michael Wade or redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd becoming the starter.
ATS: 14-20-1 (Home: 8-9. Away: 5-10-1)
Thing to remember: The Terps are getting bashed after last year’s 2-10 campaign, and rightfully
so. Maryland finished 110th nationally in sacks allowed and 105th in rushing. The offensive line
stunk. Three of those stinkers return, though, along with a healthy stable of running backs and
nine their top 10 receivers from last year.
With everyone piling on coach Ralph Friedgen, bettors could find some value with the Terps,
especially in conference play. Maryland is 44-35-1 ATS against ACC competition in Friedgen’s
ATS: 19-18 (Home: 11-8. Away: 6-10)
Thing to remember: With the departure of four-year starter Riley Skinner, the Deacons have
major question marks at quarterback. Head coach Jim Grobe left spring practice needing to see
how an incoming freshman quarterback looked before naming a starter. Whoever wins the job
will be playing behind an offensive line that returns just two starters
North Carolina State
ATS: 19-14 (Home: 8-8. Away: 8-6)
Thing to remember: Coach Tom O’Brien has always fared well in conference play. His last
six teams at Boston College went 25-17 ATS in conference play
The Wolfpack is 15-9 ATS against the ACC in O’Brien’s three seasons.