October 23, 2021

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The Education Specialists

2021 ACC win totals, odds, picks: Predictions for every team with expectations high for Clemson, Miami

We are still more than two months from Week 1, but the release of win totals is the true beginning of the preseason in college football. Soon we’ll be hearing from coaches and players at media days and in about a month fall camps will open across the country, but for now we’re all breaking down home/away splits, where the bye week falls in the schedule and making our predictions as to what will happen in the fall. 

William Hill Sportsbook has set the number for every team in the country, and today we’re focusing on the ACC. But this is going a little deeper than your standard over-under prediction, because we’re not only trying to predict the regular-season record but even which games will be wins and which will be losses. In showing our work we can’t appease the entire ACC with 14 “overs” because there has to be consistency in the results of conference play.  

So check out the breakdown for each team in the ACC below, complete with our game-by-game predictions and analysis that includes where the season could turn out for the better (or worse) in ways that could effect the final record. 

Over/Under 7 wins 

  • Wins: Colgate, at UMass, at Temple, at Syracuse, at Georgia Tech, Florida State
  • Losses: Missouri, at Clemson, NC State, at Louisville, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

Analysis: When I rank and rate the ACC, Boston College falls in the same tier as Florida State and Wake Forest. Luckily for the Eagles, both of those games are at home but while they will carry the home field advantage I’m still going with a split. If you want to know how Boston College can turn this projected 6-6 into 7-5 or even 8-4, it has to start months before those key division games with a win against Missouri on Sept. 25. Pick: Under 7 (+110)

Clemson

Over/Under 11.5 wins 

  • Wins: vs. Georgia, South Carolina State, Georgia Tech, at NC State, Boston College, at Syracuse, at Pitt, Florida State, at Louisville, UConn, Wake Forest, at South Carolina
  • Losses: None

Analysis: I’m picking the Tigers to win the opener vs. Georgia, but if they do it’s very much in the realm of possibility that they could slip up later in the year. The toughest spots later in the schedule are at NC State and at Pitt, but really any bet on an ACC loss is centered on Clemson, for whatever reason, not being performing to its potential. If Clemson loses to Georgia I think the Tigers refocus and run through the schedule to finish 11-1. If Clemson beats Georgia, it will take a substandard performance for the Tigers to finish with a loss in the regular season. Pick: Over 11.5 (+115) 

Over/Under 3.5 wins 

  • Wins: at Charlotte, NC A&T, Kansas
  • Losses: Northwestern, at North Carolina, Georgia Tech, at Virginia, at Wake Forest, Pitt, at Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami

Analysis: Best chances for an ACC win are Oct. 9 against Georgia Tech, Oct. 16 against Virginia or Oct. 30 against Wake Forest. With Pitt, Virginia Tech, Louisville and Miami in November they need to find one win midseason to get on the “over” side of this number. I think Duke’s capable of getting one of those three, but I’ll feel better picking the Blue Devils in those games after seeing the team — with all its on-field and coaching staff changes — in action during the non-conference slate in September. There’s just too many unknowns at this point in the offseason put a definitive “W” next to those games. Pick: Under 3.5 (+110)

Florida State

Over/Under 5.5 wins 

  • Wins: Jacksonville State, at Wake Forest, Louisville, Syracuse, UMass
  • Losses: Notre Dame, at North Carolina, at Clemson, NC State, Miami, at Boston College, at Florida 

Analysis: NC State and Boston College are in terrible sandwich spots on Florida State’s roster, and it’s important to remove the excitement around the Seminoles’ future with the realities of what’s going to be on the field this fall. I mentioned earlier that Wake Forest, Boston College and Florida State are all somewhat comparable teams in the ACC’s pecking order, but NC State is a tier above FSU and while that’s a dangerous spot for the Wolfpack in Tallahassee, Florida, I think the disadvantage comes with the game following Clemson and preceding a home date against rival Miami. Pick: Under 5.5 (+110)

Georgia Tech 

Over/Under 5 wins 

  • Wins: Northern Illinois, Kennesaw State, Pitt, at Duke  
  • Losses: at Clemson, North Carolina, at Virginia, Virginia Tech, at Miami, Boston College, at Notre Dame, Georgia 

Analysis: The transition to the Geoff Collins Era should be close to complete here in Year Three, but I think the reliance on youth makes Georgia Tech one of those teams with high-variance results through the year. I think the Yellow Jackets will win at least one game they’re not expected to (Pitt) and probably drop a game or two that’s considered more winnable. In breaking down the schedule I had the hardest time with Virginia-Virginia Tech back-to-back after the bye, and then the Boston College home date on Nov. 13. I’ve got 4-8 here but those three games are the path to 6-6 or 7-5 and making a bowl game for the first time since 2018. Pick: Under 5 (-110)

Louisville 

Over/Under 6.5 wins 

  • Wins: Eastern Kentucky, at Wake Forest, Virginia, Boston College, Syracuse, at Duke, Kentucky
  • Losses: vs. Ole Miss, UCF, at NC State, at Florida State, Clemson  

Analysis: Duke and Virginia are a pretty favorable draw from the Coastal Division (UVA is an annual cross-division foe), leaving some wiggle room if the Cards can’t pick up more than two wins against a very tough non-conference schedule. Still, while Louisville should be favored in games against Wake Forest, Virginia and Boston College the spread won’t be large enough to feel like they “should be wins.” This is a team that may be in the running for the second or third-best team in the ACC Atlantic but even at No. 2 it’s closer to the middle pack than the Tigers at the top. Pick: Over 6.5 (-120)

Miami

Over/Under 9.5 wins 

  • Wins: Appalachian State, Michigan State, Central Connecticut State, Virginia, NC State, Georgia Tech, at Florida State, Virginia Tech, at Duke 
  • Losses: vs. Alabama, at North Carolina, at Pitt 

Analysis: No matter what happens against Alabama, the key is going to be how Miami responds because it should be favored in its next four games and arrive in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with a chance to take the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal against North Carolina on Oct. 16. I’ve got the Tar Heels winning that one, but other than a trap-game loss at Pitt on Oct. 30 (more on that below) we’re giving Miami the win on the rest of the slate. While you may argue that flipping Pitt takes this over, I’ll counter by asking if you have confidence in the Canes winning every game in which they’re favored. If it’s not Pitt, it could be NC State or Virginia Tech. Pick: Under 9.5 (-140)

North Carolina 

Over/Under 10 wins 

  • Wins: at Virginia Tech, Georgia State, Virginia, at Georgia Tech, Duke, Florida State, Miami, Wake Forest, Wofford, at NC State
  • Losses: at Notre Dame, at Pitt

Analysis: The 2021 season will test the maturity of the North Carolina program in terms of how it handles the role of a favorite. Frustrating field-goal losses to Florida State and Virginia made clear the gap between having 10-win potential and reaching it, and this slate provides the opportunity for North Carolina to be a favorite in each of its first six games and potential seven with the Miami game being at home. There is a path that has the Tar Heels 7-0 headed to its primetime Halloween showdown at Notre Dame. I acknowledge the many trap games along the way, starting with the season opener at Virginia Tech. I’m calling for 10-2 but a few bad breaks or bad losses could easily drop this to 8-4. Pick: Push 10 

NC State

Over/Under 6.5 wins 

  • Wins: USF, Furman, Louisiana Tech, at Boston College, Louisville, at Florida State, at Wake Forest, Syracuse
  • Losses: at Mississippi State, Clemson, at Miami, North Carolina

Analysis: The game vs. Mississippi State is a total toss-up. Bill Connelly’s Preseason SP+ have both the Bulldogs and the Wolfpack with the exact same rating, even carrying the same basic makeup with a top-70 offense and top-40 defense. For this exercise I’m breaking the tie with home field, but that’s absolutely a pivot point in this win-total count. That said, I’m still landing a whole game and a half ahead of the number and concerned that I’m (once again) way too bullish on the Pack. Pick: Over 6.5 (+110)

Pitt 

Over/Under 7 wins 

  • Wins: UMass, at Tennessee, Western Michigan, New Hampshire, Miami, at Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, at Syracuse
  • Losses: at Georgia Tech, at Virginia Tech, Clemson 

Analysis: The three teams unquestionably in the top tier of the ACC in terms of win totals are all on Pitt’s schedule, and if you scroll through the slate for Clemson, North Carolina and Miami that date against the Panthers looks awfully threatening to any hopes of a chance at the College Football Playoff. I’m letting Pitt live up to its chaos team reputation with wins against its two division rivals, predicting that the balance is created with back-to-back road losses in October against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. The scientist says there’s no way Pitt should be two whole wins ahead of the number but the artist knows it’s not an ACC offseason without a heavy dose of Pitt hype. Pick: Over 7 (-115)

Syracuse 

Over/Under 3 wins 

  • Wins: at Ohio, Rutgers, Albany
  • Losses: Liberty, at Florida State, Wake Forest, Clemson, at Virginia Tech, Boston College, at Louisville, at NC State, Pitt 

Analysis: I can buy the offseason storylines from Syracuse, where the combination of young players forced into action early have combined with Super Seniors and other veterans who were injured during last season to make a motivated group ready to bounce back, but still fall short of picking a major jump in win total. I’d bet on Syracuse to win an ACC game as a single prop but in this exercise where I have to name the specific game I keep coming back to 3-9. Pick: Push 3 

Virginia 

Over/Under 6 wins 

  • Wins: William & Mary, Illinois, Wake Forest, Duke, Georgia Tech, at BYU, Virginia Tech
  • Losses: at North Carolina, at Miami, at Louisville, Notre Dame, at Pitt 

Analysis: The program development under Bronco Mendenhall has me taking the Wahoos in some spots where the numbers don’t clearly provide evidence for a UVA win. Games against Illinois, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and obviously Virginia Tech could all break the other way, but this team’s ability to win at the margins in recent years has instilled confidence in those coin-flip type games. Pick: Over 6 (-125) 

Virginia Tech 

Over/Under 7 wins 

  • Wins: Middle Tennessee, Richmond, Notre Dame, Syracuse, at Georgia Tech, at Boston College, Duke
  • Losses: North Carolina, at West Virginia, Pitt, at Miami, at Virginia

Analysis: North Carolina and West Virginia will be the barometers for how the 2021 season will go in terms of the win total. Way-too-early lines from the oddsmakers have the Hokies as an underdog in both games by more than a field goal but less than a touchdown. If Virginia Tech beats both North Carolina (at home) and West Virginia (on the road) we are quickly accelerating this Hokie hype to ACC Championship contention levels. As it stands here in June I’m siding with the oddsmakers and counting both those games as losses, leaving us at 7-5 at the end of the year. Pick: Push 7 

Wake Forest

Over/Under 6.5 wins 

  • Wins: Old Dominion, Norfolk State, at Syracuse, at Army, Duke, at Boston College
  • Losses: Florida State, at Virginia, Louisville, at North Carolina, NC State, at Clemson 

Analysis: Virginia is the pivot point competitively, and NC State is the pivot point situationally. Wake Forest has won 10 of the last 12 at home against the Wolfpack, a run that dates back 1997, so I would not be surprised to see an NC State team I have rated higher stumble in that spot. Virginia is a more closely-aligned foe on paper but with the game being in Charlottesville, Virginia, I gave it to the Wahoos. So we’re sitting at 6-6 and bowling for now but there’s more avenues to 7-5 or 8-4 than concern about dropping to 5-7. Pick: Under 6.5 (+115)