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Oddsmakers: Handicapping the ACC Atlantic and Coastal Division Races

It's an off week for BC football. So we thought what better time to take a step back and take a look at the ACC Championship Game picture with a game of Oddsmakers - the game that I win 60% of the time, all the time. Let's start with the feel good story of the year in the Coastal Division, Duke.


At 5-3 (3-1 ACC) and having rattled off 3 straight ACC wins for the first time since 1994, Duke is one of the great stories of the ACC and all of college football this year. But what are the chances Duke finishes 4-4 or better in conference?

Jeff: 97%.  Duke is at 3-1 in conference right now so they would need to win just one of their remaining four games in order to get to 4-4 in conference.  This is a very achievable mark for the Blue Devils this year with their two best chances of getting another win coming this Saturday at UNC and in their final game of the season when they play Wake at home.  But oddly enough, while I think they will get one more win, I give them a very slim chance of winning two more and heading to a bowl game this season.

Brian: Duke could easily win another ACC game this year, but I’m not as optimistic as you are. The turnaround at Duke has indeed been a great story this year. Let’s keep in mind, however, that Duke has rattled off three straight ACC wins against the worst of the worst in the ACC this season. NC State, Maryland and Virginia are having terrible years and it’s likely that two of those three programs will be looking for new head coaches in the offseason. Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis has been great, but the Duke offense has been extremely one-dimensional with no running game to speak of. While North Carolina has struggled offensively, they have done a good job this season on defense. I think that North Carolina will find just enough offense at home to knock off Duke. I then expect Duke to lose their two games - Georgia Tech and at Miami - before hosting their Atlantic Division rivals Wake Forest in the season finale. As this is a rivalry game, there’s really no predicting how Duke-Wake Forest will play out at this point. Last season Duke took Wake Forest to overtime. Will Riley Skinner be ready to play? Given how unpredictable this game is for me, but considering that Duke is at home this year, I will give Duke a 55% chance of getting to .500 in ACC play this year.


On the other hand, Maryland is not a great story in the ACC.  Chances the Terrapins win another game?

Brian: In two words: not good. Maryland’s best shot at another win comes this weekend when they travel to Raleigh. But the Terps will still be without the services of running back Da’Rel Scott at least through the Maryland-Florida State game. NC State proved that it can still move the ball effectively on offense against a bad defense last week against Florida State. I expect the Wolfpack to have similar success on offense this week against an equally bad defense, and do just enough(?) to beat Maryland. After NC State, Maryland’s second best chance at a win is in the season finale against BC. Da’Rel Scott will likely be back, Fridge will be fighting for his job and Maryland always gets up to play Boston College.

But the real reason why Maryland won’t win another ACC game this year is turnover margin. Maryland ranks as one of the worst teams in the country when it comes to turnover margin, and Friedgen’s teams have historically been bad at holding onto the football. The Eagles defense will be licking their chops at the chance of turning over Chris Turner, Da’Rel Scott and the Maryland offense. There’s a reason why the College Park faithful have already turned their attention to the basketball season. Chances are low here. I’ll go with 25%.

Jeff: Oddsmakers is a great game, but only truly great if one participant throws a 0% or a 100% on the board. But here is my best chance to be certain on something. Maryland will not win another game. There is a 0% chance that Maryland wins another game. They've already played Duke which at least traditionally looked like a winnable game and now all they have left are opponents who will be desperate for another win for either bowl eligibility, pride, or their division title hopes. 0%!!!


Georgia Tech is in line to win the Coastal Division with only two ACC games to play.  Chances the Yellow Jackets head to Tampa?

Jeff: Georgia Tech only has two games left in ACC play.  The Yellow Jackets play Wake Forest and travel to Duke.  This is not a very tall order for them to win those two games and head to the conference championship game.  Also, even if they do lose to Wake, Miami might lose one of its 3 remaining games this season which would also send Georgia Tech to Tampa.  I feel very confident that Georgia Tech will end up in Tampa. 89%.

Brian: For all the trash talking the Coastal guys - and in particular, the From the Rumble Seat guys - have been doing degrading the ACC Atlantic and likening the division to the dregs of the Big 12 North, I can’t think of a better way of karma coming back and biting the Jackets in the ass than Wake Forest pulling off the upset this weekend. Riley Skinner returns from last weekend’s concussion and leads the Deacons on a game-winning drive to knock off the Yellow Jackets in heroic fashion. OK, I can’t say this with certainty, but Wake Forest does have experience defending the triple option playing Navy earlier this season, and by its nature, the Paul Johnson’s offense always leaves open the possibility of a letdown game. I don’t think Duke can beat Georgia Tech, even at home. I think that both Virginia Tech and Miami (Fla.) are going to win out. Virginia Tech, in particular, gets to beat down on the 3 ACC teams that Duke has already defeated this season. Given the 30% chance that Wake Forest has of being the Jackets this week, I will give Georgia Tech a 70% chance of winning the division. If Wake can beat Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech and Miami win their 3 remaining ACC games, we will again have a three-way tie at 6-2 atop the ACC Coastal and my guess is Miami would represent the Coastal having won the BCS Standings tiebreaker (Miami would have gone the most consecutive games without a loss).


Believe it or not, Florida State is still technically in contention for the Atlantic Division crown.  Chances the Seminoles win out to finish 5-3 in the ACC?

Brian: Chances aren’t great, but they aren’t bad either … especially if Florida State can put together some semblance of a defense. Ponder will have to have another career day and the Seminole defense will have to stand on its head if it expects to beat Clemson in Death Valley this weekend. That is by far the toughest hurdle left for Florida State. This game doesn’t seem to mean nearly as much as it did when it was the Bowden bowl, but Bobby Bowden certainly has a lot to play for this weekend and this could inspire the ‘Noles. If Florida State can get past Clemson, the road to 5-3 gets much easier, but Wake Forest has given FSU fits the past three years and the game is in Winston-Salem this year. I would expect another similar shootout between Wake and FSU a la the FSU-NC State game last weekend. After Wake, Maryland at home should be an easy win for Florida State. Given that both the Clemson and Wake Forest games are going to be played away from Doak Campbell this year, I can’t give FSU more than a 50% chance of winning either of those games. So I’ll go fairly low here and only give Florida State a 22% chance of running the table in the ACC and finishing 5-3. The defense is just really, really bad this year.

Jeff: Well, what are Florida State's chances of beating Clemson? 50%-ish at best. Vegas has their chances much worse than that. Even though my gut tells me that Florida State might win out, the true odds that they win out are even less than 22%. Maryland is a gimme but then the Clemson game and the NC State games are going to be tough. What's the attitude in the FSU locker room right now? Who knows. I'm going to go 15% even though I am going to be one of the Seminoles biggest fans on Saturday night.


In the Atlantic, Clemson is in line to win the program’s first ACC Atlantic Division title.  Chances the Tigers win their three remaining conference games?

Jeff: So far the Tigers losses have come against the best team in the conference (Georgia Tech) and the worst team in the conference (Maryland).  Clemson plays Florida State, at NC State and Virginia to finish ACC play.  What is the toughest game left on Clemson's schedule? Is it NC State because it’s on the road?  Virginia because the team might overlook them?  Or Florida State, because they are actually the best of those three teams?  With Clemson, you have a team that can lose to anybody and I'm going to say they probably will lose to at least one of those teams.  When you have a quarterback with the 96th best passer rating in the country (Shinskie is 59th) you are going to lose some games you might think you shouldn't lose. 10% chance Clemson wins out.

Brian: Uh oh. Is that 10% chance causing any static on the home front Jeff? What the future holds in store for Clemson is hazy to me. With Tommy Bowden at the helm, you wouldn’t give Clemson more than a 2% chance of "finishing the job" and winning three games to win the Atlantic. Things seem just a bit different this year under Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers seem to have gotten their annual WTF game out of their system early (at Maryland … again, how do you lose to Maryland?) and there might not be much to play for for the boys from Charlottesville and Raleigh other than maybe pride.

I’m going to go much higher than 10% here, but the one thing that keeps my percentage relatively low is the possibility that BC doesn’t keep the pressure on Clemson and our road woes continue to haunt us in Charlottesville. In that case, if Clemson beats FSU this week and NC State next week, they would have already wrapped up the Atlantic Division before the 15th of November. There wouldn’t be any incentive to beating Virginia and I could easily see them getting upset against a Virginia squad playing for their head coach’s job. If the question was odds Clemson plays in the ACC Championship Game, I’d go as high as 60%, but since the question is will they finish ACC play at 3-0, I’ll go a bit lower and say 50%.


Assuming Clemson drops a game, Boston College heads to the ACC Championship Game by their 3 remaining league games. Chances the Eagles win their next 3?

Brian: I think you have to like the Eagles chances here, even with two of their final three games away from Alumni Stadium. The toughest team left on the schedule is North Carolina, but the Eagles should be thankful they draw UNC at home this season as they are already a perfect 6-0 at home. They’ll be looking to remain a perfect 7-0 on the year at home and (hopefully) playing to keep their ACC Championship Game hopes alive. Spaz and the Eagles have found themselves in nearly the exact same situation last season, where they had to win their final three ACC games (with two on the road) to make it back to the Championship Game. The only difference is last season, we had to beat three Atlantic Division opponents while this year we draw two Coastal opponents. Oh yeah, and BC needs just a tad bit of help in the form of a Clemson loss. Last year we controlled our own destiny. Three straight is a lot of wins for a young team such as the Eagles, but BC should be favored in all three remaining games, so I’ll give the Eagles a healthy 66.7% chance of winning out.

Jeff: I love your optimism and you pointed out all the right reasons. Virginia and Maryland are done this year so BC, despite not having a road win yet this season, should be able to win both of those games. Then the Eagles get North Carolina at home where they are undefeated and coming off a victory over a Central Michigan team who is better than North Carolina. I'll truly piss you off by going only slightly higher than you and say 67% chance. The only unfortunate thing is that the Eagles have a much smaller chance of heading to the ACC Championship Game as the Atlantic Division representative because they do need some help.

Brian: Did you really just say Central Michigan is better than North Carolina? Ouch.

Another oddsmakers, another victory for me. Just another day at the office.


Leave your picks for the ACC Atlantic and ACC Coastal Division champs in the comments section below.