With the release of the Golden Nugget's 200 "games of the year," we draw ever closer to the start of the college football season. Over the weekend, New Guy took a look at the early lines specific to Boston College. But what can these early lines tell us about the 2014 ACC season?
First, a few caveats. This is an arbitrary list of games. Can any game involving Duke or Wake Forest truly be considered a "game of the year?" Because the list only includes 200 games, none of the teams have their complete schedules represented here while two teams -- Duke and Wake Forest -- have just one game listed. Finally, some lines are set to encourage early betting action and may not be representative of how a particular game is going to play out.
Still, we have a long way to go with this offseason so let's extrapolate on these early lines:
|Florida State Seminoles||5||0||0||1.000||8||0||0||1.000|
|Boston College Eagles||0||4||0||0.000||0||5||0||0.000|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||0||1||0||0.000||0||1||0||0.000|
|N.C. State Wolfpack||0||3||0||0.000||0||3||0||0.000|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||5||2||0||0.714||6||3||0||0.667|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||4||2||0||0.667||4||3||0||0.571|
|Duke Blue Devils||0||1||0||0.000||0||1||0||0.000|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||0||3||0||0.000||0||4||0||0.000|
Not surprisingly, the defending crystal football champs are the only ACC program favored in every one of these games. The Seminoles are more than two touchdown favorites in each of the eight games listed, with FSU's in-state rivals Miami coming the closest of any opponent (-14.5). That includes non-conference games against Oklahoma State in Arlington (-17), Florida (-17) and Notre Dame (-24). No projected lines for three FSU conference home games -- Virginia, Boston College and Wake Forest -- but it's not a leap to suggest that the 'Noles could once again run the table during the regular season and run away with the Atlantic Division title.
The Coastal Division, once again, appears to be the more competitive of the two divisions. Three teams -- North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Miami -- distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack based on these early lines. North Carolina's 5-2 record may come as a bit of a surprise, but that's built on a few very close lines -- -3 vs. Duke, +1 vs. Miami, +4 vs. Clemson.
To show just how close this top group of teams may be, check the lines among the three:
North Carolina at Miami -1
Virginia Tech at North Carolina -10
Miami at Virginia Tech -1
Pittsburgh has been mentioned by some as a sleeper in the Coastal Division this season, but I just don't see it. Not after losing the most decorated defensive player in school history and their starting QB. The Panthers notch wins at Boston College (-9) and Virginia Tech (-1) but fall to Miami (+7) and North Carolina (+10)
ACC newcomers Louisville are projected to finish third behind the big two in the Atlantic after falling to both Florida State (+17) and Clemson (+10) but squeaking past Syracuse (-1) and taking care of business against BC (-15) and Virginia (-7.5). The early line on the Louisville-Miami game is a pick 'em, and it'll be interesting to see how that line moves as the game approaches.
Unfortunately, the ACC's first full season playing
five four games against Notre Dame doesn't go according to plan, with the Irish going 3-1 with wins over North Carolina (+2.5), Syracuse (+5.5) and Louisville (+8). The Louisville line, in particular, surprised me after the Cards got a bunch of love.
The conference's teams are projected to go 6-11 in the odds listed against teams from outside the ACC, though half of those wins are courtesy of Florida State -- Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida. The losses come to BYU (Virginia), Georgia (Clemson and Georgia Tech), Nebraska (Miami), Notre Dame (Louisville, North Carolina and Syracuse), Ohio State (Virginia Tech), South Carolina (Clemson), UCLA (Virginia) and USC (Boston College).
Four ACC teams -- Duke, N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest -- don't have any early non-conference games listed among the Golden Nuggets "games of the year," but that's mostly due to some conspicuously poor scheduling. The toughest non-conference opponent on these four schedules is probably Iowa (Pitt), followed by Utah State (Wake Forest), South Florida (N.C. State) and Kansas? (Duke). So the conference will certainly pad the win column in non-conference play. However, for a conference known for over-scheduling and under performing in non-conference play, it looks like it's going to be another season of disappointment for the ACC.