ACC - Favorites will meet for title
By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Florida State has been installed as the heavy even-money favorite to take the ACC title. The Seminoles bring back eight starters from a defense that led the league in both scoring and total defense.
However, with North Carolina being ineligible to compete for the conference title, Virginia Tech has a much easier road to get to the championship game. Furthermore, the Hokies knocked off Florida State in the 2010 title contest in a year they returned just three defensive starters. At 3-1 odds, the ACC's best bet is to take Virginia Tech to win the league crown
Time now to take a team-by-team look at the league with predicted straight-up overall and conference records for those wagering on over/unders for total victories.
6) WAKE FOREST (50-1 - All odds courtesy of 5Dimes) - The Demon Deacons are 5-12 ATS as road underdogs the last five years.
Offense - The Demon Deacons changed their offensive philosophy last year with an even 50-50 run/pass split compared to 60-40 numbers in 2010. This modification worked as the offense increased its scoring average in conference play from 17 points to 28. However, the Demon Deacons go into 2012 without four offensive line starters and their leading rusher and receiver.
Defense - Wake Forest allowed 11 fewer ppg in ACC play last year (compared to 2010). This group of players looks similar to last season so look for identical numbers.
Prediction - The Demon Deacons ended the year with five consecutive unders. That trend should continue in 2012 (4-8, 2-6).
5) BOSTON COLLEGE (75-1) - The Eagles are 13-6 as road underdogs the last six years.
Offense - The Eagles ranked last in league play in both scoring and total offense a year ago. Nevertheless, a slight bump up in production is expected with 10 returning starters and new offensive coordinator Doug Martin.
Defense - After allowing 2.7 yards per carry in 2010, the Eagles gave up 4.3 the following season. The loss of Luke Kuechly will hurt more than they might think.
Prediction - Boston College is an amazing 0-16-1 to the under in its last 17 games. With an improved offense and a weakened defense, look for more overs in 2012 (4-8, 2-6).
4) NC STATE (23-1) - The Wolfpack is an unbelievable 0-11 as a road favorite the last nine years.
Offense - The offense will go only as far as its line will take it. Last year the Wolfpack was 109th nationally in rushing and 98th in sacks allowed. Four starters return so look for production to rise.
Defense - NC State was 2nd nationally in turnovers gained. It's doubtful the defense will run into such good fortune this season, particularly with inexperience at the linebacker position.
Prediction - The Wolfpack finished last season with five ATS wins and five unders in its final seven games. Look for more overs and failed covers this year (7-5, 4-4).
3) MARYLAND (125-1) - The Terrapins are 12-18 ATS in non-conference play the last eight years.
Offense - Danny O'Brien is gone but the only two times the offense scored 40 points or more came when C.J. Brown was the starter. If Maryland's highly- touted freshmen are for real, this will be one of the most improved offenses in the league.
Defense - Maryland allowed 12 more ppg last year (compared to 2010) and finished 119th nationally in third-down conversions. Injuries played a huge part in the decline. Fortunately, 11 of the top 13 tacklers return so look for a huge decrease in points allowed.
Prediction - The Terrapins wound up 2-9 ATS last year. They could go 9-2 this season. Take over 4.5 wins at +110 (7-5, 4-4).
2) CLEMSON (11-2) - The Tigers are 10-4 as road underdogs the last seven years,
Offense - The Tigers averaged more ppg last year (33.6) than in any other season since 2003. The only weakness heading into the new campaign is an inexperienced offensive line that returns just two starters.
Defense - Not many folks will forget the 70 points allowed to West Virginia in last year's Orange Bowl. This season's defense is very young, especially on the line where the club lost its top three sack leaders.
Prediction - If football games are won in the trenches, Clemson will have a tough time repeating as ACC champions. It is best to bet against the Tigers early in the year (9-3, 6-2).
1) FLORIDA STATE (1-1) - The Seminoles are 18-11 ATS in non-conference play, but 14-24 as home favorites the last seven years.
Offense - The Seminoles have averaged between 30 and 31 ppg the last three years but the yards per game number has dropped the last two seasons. That will change this year.
Defense - Florida State ranked 4th nationally in scoring and total defense last season and this year's group could be even better.
Prediction - The Seminoles will have an above .500 ATS mark for the third straight campaign (11-1, 8-0).
6) DUKE (130-1) - The Blue Devils are exactly .500 ATS since 2003.
Offense - Duke's offense has been much better under David Cutcliffe but there has not been one breakout campaign. In fact, the Blue Devils averaged just 19.5 ppg inside the ACC last year. Look for a slight improvement into the low 20s.
Defense - After three straight seasons of just five or six returning starters, nine come back to Durham in 2012. Furthermore, the defense brings back nine of the top 10 tacklers after giving up 31 ppg and close to 5.0 yards per carry.
Prediction - Duke will be a part of many unders all season long (4-8, 2-6).
5) MIAMI-FLORIDA (17-1) - The Hurricanes are 10-18 as home favorites the last five years.
Offense - The Hurricanes averaged one more point per game in league play last year (compared to 2010) but gained 63 fewer yards per contest. The offense will take a hit this season with the loss of more than 75 percent of yards gained from a year ago.
Defense - Miami had its least effective pass defense in years allowing opposing quarterbacks to hit on 66 percent of their throws. The Hurricanes also have allowed at least 4.0 ypc in three of the last four years. Unless multiple true freshmen emerge, this will be Miami's worst defense in five years.
Prediction - Miami was a surprising 7-4 ATS in 2011. Look for the Hurricanes to dip below the .500 mark in 2012 (8-4, 5-3).
4) VIRGINIA (19-1) - The Cavaliers are 12-7 as road underdogs the last five years.
Offense - Virginia has not had the same quarterback start for two consecutive seasons since 2006-07. It appears that streak will continue with Phillip Sims expected to get the nod over incumbent Michael Rocco. Look for the Cavaliers to average over 20 ppg in league play for the first time since 2009.
Defense - Despite cutting down the overall scoring average by just 4.5 ppg, the Cavs went from 35 ppg down to 23 versus ACC competition. They probably will not match that mark this year with the loss of six of their top 10 tacklers.
Prediction - Virginia went 9-2 to the under in its last 11 games. Expect many more overs this year (6-6, 3-5).
3) GEORGIA TECH (12-1) - The Yellow Jackets are 4-10-2 ATS in conference play the last two years.
Offense - Last year's offense averaged 28 ppg inside the ACC compared to 24 in 2010. The total will rise again with everyone of note back except for most of their receivers, which is the team's least important position.
Defense - Georgia Tech has allowed between 25 and 26 ppg the last three years while opposing rushers have averaged 4.5 ypc each of the last two. This season should be no different with the loss of the leading tackler and two starting linemen.
Prediction - The Yellow Jackets covered just one of their final 10 games a season ago. That won't be the case this year (7-5, 4-4).
2) NORTH CAROLINA (ineligible) - The Tar Heels are 11-5 as home underdogs the last eight years.
Offense - North Carolina averaged 6.0 yards per play and allowed 5.4 ypp inside the ACC but went 3-5 in league play. (Virginia Tech also averaged the same numbers but went 7-1.) The offense should explode in 2012 under the direction of new head coach Larry Fedora.
Defense - No one will confuse this defense with the group that took the field in 2009. However, the new 3-3-5 alignment should help as the secondary is the strength of the defense.
Prediction - The Tar Heels finished the year with five overs in their last seven games. Expect more of the same in 2012 (9-3, 5-3).
1) VIRGINIA TECH (3-1) - The Hokies are 8-16-3 ATS in non-conference play the last six years.
Offense - There have been nine occasions since 1991 that the Hokies have returned fewer starters than the year before and their scoring average has dropped all nine times. They bring back just three starters this year after returning seven in 2011.
Defense - Virginia Tech ranked 7th nationally in scoring and 10th in total defense. This group could be even stronger with 12 of the top 15 tacklers back in Blacksburg.
Prediction - The Hokies are 14-5-1 to the under in their last 20 games. Look for that trend to continue (10-2, 6-2).
08/07 09:52:46 ET