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ACC Conference Season Win Projections
by ASA - 08/31/2015
Boston College – OVER 5.5 Wins
Head coach Steve Addazio has BC moving in the right direction. After back to back bowl appearances we think they have a great shot at another, thus we lean to the OVER 5.5 wins here. They finished 7-6 last year and three of those losses came by 4 points or less, including tight setbacks to Florida St & Clemson. The running game should be solid if the new offensive line comes together. The defense, which ranked 2nd nationally against the run, returns 5 of their front 7. The Eagles play only 4 true road games and their non-conference slate includes Maine, Howard, and Northern Illinois.
Clemson – OVER 8.5 Wins
The Tigers have won 10 games or more in 4 straight seasons. We think they have a great chance to reach that level again in 2015 and with this number set fairly low at 8.5, we like the OVER. QB Deshaun Watson should be back to full strength after starting just 5 games last year due to injury (knee & finger). He has a great arsenal of weapons and the offense should be very good. Defensively the Tigers ranked #1 in the nation last year allowing only 260 YPG. They lose a lot in the front 7, however the secondary should be among the best in the ACC. The Tigers get FSU at home and their they have a great shot at winning their roadies @ NC State, @ Syracuse, @ Miami FL.
Duke – UNDER 7 Wins
The Devils are coming off a 9 win season but we think a fairly significant drop is in order. Their offense loses QB Boone along with most of their key weapons. They have scored 32 PPG in each of the last 3 seasons but we expect drop off this season. Duke’s defense allowed just 22 PPG yet teams put up an average of 400 YPG on them so they may have been a bit “lucky” on that side of the ball to hold opponents to low numbers on the scoreboard. They do avoid both FSU & Clemson in their cross over games but half of their games (6) are on the road this year. We think Duke may get to 7 wins this year if things fall into place, but they’ll have a hard time getting over that number.
Florida State – OVER 9.5 Wins
This total is set a bit low in our opinion. FSU has topped this total in 4 of their last 5 seasons and they only time they didn’t their record was 9-4 missing this year’s total by just one win. Many feel the offense will fall off with Jameis Winston moving onto the NFL. Let’s not forget that former Notre Dame QB, Everett Golson has transferred in and will almost assuredly be the starter. He was 12-1 in his 13 starts for the Irish with his only loss coming in the National Championship game. The Noles defense should be loaded again with NFL talent all over the field. The schedule isn’t bad with 7 home games. They haven’t lost a home game in 2 years so we expect them to run the table at Doak Campbell Stadium. Just a few road wins gets them over this number.
Georgia Tech – OVER 7.5 Wins
The Jackets are in the weaker ACC Coastal Division and many forget they won it last year with a 10-2 regular season record. They then gave FSU a run in the ACC Championship game before bowing to the Noles 37-35. The Jackets two ACC losses came by 6 & 5 points and they outscored their conference opponents by +109 on the season. Making the ACC Championship was not a fluke. They aren’t getting much respect here with this number set a 7.5. Flashy QB Thomas is back along with one of the better offensive lines in the nation. We love teams that can run the ball on anyone and Tech can do just that. They have finished 2nd, 7th, 4th, 2nd , 1st nationally in YPG rushing over the last 5 years. Their defense can be suspect at times but they return 8 starters so they should be OK on that side of the ball. They didn’t get any favors in the cross-over scheduling as they face both FSU & Clemson from the Atlantic Division. Even with that this number is too low and we’ll take the OVER.
Louisville – UNDER 7.5 Wins
The Cards finished 5-3 in their first year in the ACC a year ago. We expect a step back this year and U of L simply lost too many good players in our opinion. They only have 9 total starters returning and had a whopping 10 players drafted off last year’s team. The Birds struggled at the QB position last year and they were very unsettled at that spot coming out of spring ball. They lost 5 of their top 6 pass catchers and the offensive line is very inexperienced with only 19 career starts among the entire group. The defense was great last year but with only 4 starters back, we expect a drop off. Half of their games are on the road or in “neutral” situations. Two of the Cards first three games are against Auburn & Clemson so they may get off to a slow start and set the tone for a “slower” type season.
Miami – OVER 5.5 Wins
We think the Canes come into this season a bit undervalued. The finished 6-7 last year but their “stats” say they were much better than that. They actually outgained their opponents by an average of +100 yards per game on the season. Despite a losing record, they out-yarded 9 of their 12 opponents in 2014. They had a true freshman QB working his way through the kinks last year and now Brad Kaaya is a sophomore and we look for him to be very good. They lost some key skill position players, but one thing we know, Miami has a lot of talent. On the other side of the ball, the defense returns 12 of their top 18 tacklers. The Canes start the season with Bethune-Cookman, FAU, and Nebraska (at home) before a bye week. They have a great shot to win those 3 games and then only need 3 more wins the rest of the way to top this low number.
North Carolina – UNDER 8 Wins
UNC has many of their key players back this year and while they might be better, this number is set a full 2 games higher than their win total last year. The Heels finished 6-7 a year ago and we think their chances of winning 7 or less this year are much greater than their chances of winning 9 or more. Let’s look at their wins last year. They beat Liberty & Duke badly. Their other four wins came by 4, 5, 1, & 5 points. Their losses, on the other hand, came by 29, 15, 17, 7, 27, and 28 points. Obviously their losses were big and their wins were tight. The Heels defense was horrendous giving up just under 500 YPG and almost 40 PPG. They gave up 47 points or more in 4 games last year, including 71 to East Carolina. They’ve hired a new DC (Chizik) to try and help but it won’t get done in one year. Head coach Larry Fedora has gotten worse head year going from 8 to 7 to 6 wins in his 3 seasons here. Their ACC road games are fairly tough and we don’t see a huge improvement.
NC State – OVER 7.5 Wins
Tough call for us on this one but we’ll lean slightly to the OVER. Offensively the Pack averaged 30 PPG last year on 409 total yards per game. They should be able to match or even improve that this season. They return QB Brissett, their top 3 rushers, and 5 of their top 7 pass catchers. The offensive line will start 4 seniors as well. Defensively this team was all over the map last year. They held WF, Syracuse, and UNC to 17 points or less last year but every other ACC team scored at least 30 on them. The bring back 8 starters on that side of the ball and 4 of their top 5 tacklers return. If they are just “OK” on that side of the ball, the offense should do enough to get 8 wins. NC State should get off to a fast start as they open with Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion, and South Alabama. They should start 4-0 and then they’ll need a .500 ACC mark to get to 8 wins. Again, we think the NCST’s wins land right around this number, probably 7 or 8 and we’ll lean to 8 and the OVER.
Pittsburgh – OVER 6 Wins
We definitely like Pitt to top 6 wins this season. The Panthers finished with a 6-6 regular season mark last year but we felt they were better than their record indicated. They outgained teams by an average of 435 to 360 last season. In ACC play only, Pitt put up 438 YPG and allowed 393. They should be stacked on offense. They bring back players that accounted for almost 90% of their total yardage last year including QB Voytik, WR Boyd, and RB Conner who was the ACC offensive player of the year with 1800 yards on the ground. Defensively they were shaky at times but have quite a bit of experience with 8 upperclassmen slated to start. New head coach, Pat Narduzzi, orchestrated some of the top defensive teams in college football during his time at Michigan State so we expect a solid unit this year. As we said, this team was better than a 6 win team last season. Five of their seven losses came by margins of 1, 3, 4, 5, and 5 points. Pitt avoids both FSU & Clemson this year and the OVER is our recommendation here.
Syracuse – UNDER 4.5 Wins
This is another tough call for us but we’ll slightly lean UNDER 4.5 wins. The Orange offense was abysmal last year scoring only 17 PPG. They really struggle down the stretch scoring only 47 total points over their last 5 games. However, some of that was due to back luck as the Cuse had a number of key injuries. That included starting QB Hunt who played in only the first 5 games of the season before being lost of the season. The defense was very good last season allowing only 349 YPG. We don’t expect a repeat with just 3 starters back on that side of the ball and the loss of their top 5 tacklers. We are a bit on edge taking the UNDER here because their schedule starts with Rhode Island, Wake Forest, and Central Michigan so it’s conceivable they could be 3-0 heading to their game vs LSU on September 26th. However, once October hits the Cuse has just 3 home games the remainder of the season. Their schedule is tough and with a lack of offense and a defense that should fall off, we are looking at a 4 win season for them (they were 3-9 last year). A very slight lean to the UNDER.
Virginia – UNDER 4.5 Wins
The Cavs had a MUCH better team last year and still could only muster 5 wins. They return just 41% of their offensive yardage from last year and only 46% of their total tackles. That ranks them below 100th (out of 128) in both of those categories. On top of that, they have what we rate as the toughest schedule in the ACC. Their opponents on this year’s slate racked up a 94-62 record last year. Their non-conference foes include UCLA, Notre Dame, and Boise State. The Cavs have a tough ACC road slate that includes Pitt, UNC, Miami, and Louisville and they can’t seem to win away from home (1-13 away record last 3 years). We were much higher than most on this team last year and they disappointed with a number of close losses. This year they will struggle from the start and have a hard time getting to 5 wins again.
Virginia Tech – OVER 8 Wins
We actually have VT pegged for 8 wins this year, however if we have to go up or down, we’ll go up. We think there is a better chance they’ll end up with 9 wins rather than 7. The Hokies will be one of the more experienced teams in the ACC with over 75% of their letterman returning. They have nearly all of their offensive production back along with 8 starters back on defense. It was a “down” year for Beamer and the Hokies as they finished at 6-6 in the regular season. The fact is, this team has won 8 or more games in 8 of the last 10 seasons. Five of their six losses a year ago came by margins of 2, 3, 3, 5, and 7 points. They could have easily had a more impressive record. This year they start with Ohio State which could be very tough as the Bucks remember last year’s 35-21 home loss to VT. However, the game is in Blacksburg where they are 52-14 the last 10 years. After that it’s Furman, Purdue and ECU to close out the non-conference slate so we’re looking at 3-1 entering the ACC. Again we have them projected for an 8-4 season, however we’d take the OVER here before the under.
Wake Forest – UNDER 3.5 Wins
This is a tough call but we’ll push slightly to the UNDER. Wake finished 3-9 a year ago and while they should be improved as a whole, their record may not show it. This team was horrendous offensively a year ago. They averaged only 14 PPG on 216 total yards per game. They could not run the ball at all (40 YPG rushing). Two of their three wins last year came by 3 point margins. Their lone “easy” win was against Gardner Webb, a 23-7 final. Every loss but two came by double digits. Dave Clawson is a solid coach in our opinion, however he had almost nothing to work with when he took over. This is still a very young team with only 6 seniors on their entire team. We think Wake will get better under Clawson, but it will take at least another year. We’ll call for another 3-9 campaign and take the UNDER here.