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NCAA Football Futures - Early Look at the ACC

6-19-09

NCAA Football Futures Betting
An early look at the ACC.

NCAA Football Odds To Win ACC Conference:

Boston College            +5000
Clemson                      +1500
Duke                            +5000
Florida State                +250
Georgia Tech               +700
Maryland                      +2500
Miami                           +600
North Carolina              +600
North Carolina State     +800
Virginia                        +2500
Virginia Tech               +250
Wake Forest                 +1200

Let's go team by team and look at everyone’s prospects:

At FLORIDA STATE (+250 at BetUS), Bobby Bowden may or may not have more wins than Joe Paterno at season's end. Fourteen of his career wins have been vacated, but they are on appeal. The Seminoles return just three starters on defense, but this team always recruits well, so there will be depth. The offensive line is an experienced crew, and the running game might improve, with the tandem of Jermaine Thomas and Carlton Jones taking over. There are going to be a lot of wide receivers for Bowden and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to turn to; whether one of them becomes a major threat is something that remains to be seen. There will be a lot of pressure on Christian Ponder to improve; the quarterback threw 14 TD passes with 13 interceptions in 2008.

VIRGINIA TECH (+250 at BetUS) is perhaps the closest thing the ACC has to a national championship contender. The Hokies have won two ACC titles in the last four years, and have won at least ten games in each of the last five seasons. Last season they beat Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl, and this season Tyrod Taylor is in the saddle from the beginning. Obviously Taylor is a run threat (738 yards), but as a passer, he's just so-so. Having a consistent running game is going to be critical, and Darren Evans, who ran for 1265 yards as a freshman, helps in that regard. However, this is a one-dimensional offense, which had just six touchdown passes in 2008. There will be a heavy reliance on defense, and that's not all bad news: this team, which returns enough people, held opponents to 3.2 yards per rush attempt and 31% in third down conversions.

NORTH CAROLINA (+600 at BetUS) has some new wide receivers, after the departure of Brandon Tate and Hakeem Nicks. They leave a big hole, and T.J. Yates is hoping and praying that he can have a full healthy season at the quarterback spot. There is lots of speed on the defensive side of the football, as coach Butch Davis seeks to build this program in the image of what he used to have at Miami. With eight wins last year, Davis is definitely showing progress, and because he is such a good recruiter, there is always the possibly of a surprise from newcomers.

MIAMI (+600 at BetUS) has lost the swagger it had in years past. After a tough loss to California in the Emerald Bowl, Robert Marve was gone, leaving the quarterback position to Jacory Harris, who many observers swear will develop quickly under new offensive coordinator Mark Whipple. Miami has weapons, but not nearly the depth they had been accustomed to having. Still, the cupboard is not bare, and Mike James, a prize freshman recruit, may be able to make an immediate impact teaming with the serviceable Graig Cooper in the backfield.

In Atlanta, GEORGIA TECH (+700 at BetUS) handed the program over to Paul Johnson, and the former Navy coach delivered in his first season, with nine wins. A big part of making Johnson's flexbone offense work was Jonathan Dwyer, who simply took the ball and took over, rushing for 1395 yards, best in the ACC. He's gotten a lot of All-American attention, and would be considered an outside contender for the Heisman. There are nine starters coming back on offense, and eight on defense. Freshmen or sophomores scored all but three of the Yellow Jackets' touchdowns last season. Johnson has a lot of depth in the backfield alongside Dwyer, so they will keep coming at teams and challenging defensive fronts. The problem is that the offensive line has to be rebuilt to an extent. That may be the difference between a mid-tier bowl game and a possible appearance in the ACC title game. Passing teams will certainly be challenged by this defense, as there are at least one or two potential all-conference performers in the secondary.

NORTH CAROLINA STATE (+800 at BetUS), which went to the PapaJohns.com Bowl last year, hasn't won more than six games since 2005. They have a chance to beat that total now that Russell Wilson, who impressed so much as a freshman quarterback, returns for his sophomore season. Wilson tossed 17 TD's with just one interception on his way to being named first-team All-ACC. He has now thrown 249 passes without a pick. He proved to be very efficient in the red zone, but the Wolfpack needs to find an answer at the running back position.

WAKE FOREST (+1200 at BetUS) lost seven players on the defensive side, including the great Aaron Curry. The defense will certainly be in rebuilding mode. The good news is that the Demon Deacons have QB Riley Skinner and a veteran offensive line returning, and there is also a good special teams unit and a resourceful coach in Jim Grobe. Wake will have to outscore opponents a little more than usual, but they ought to be able to do enough to get back to a bowl game of some kind.

CLEMSON (+1500 at BetUS) was a disaster last season. They loomed as a national title contender at the start, but everyone seemed to underachieve, and Tommy Bowden got the ax. Dabo Sweeney took over the coaching reins, and has changed both coordinators. C.J. Spiller remains in the backfield, and he's one of the best in the country. Last year's offensive line, which was young and green, now becomes a strength, because everyone has experience. Eight starters are back on defense, including linebacker Brandon Maye, who may have an all-conference future. Willy Korn should be starting quarterback, and he's got upside but also a lot of work ahead of him.  

VIRGINIA (+2500 at BetUS) simply needs more offense. It appears as if Jameel Sewell will be the starter at quarterback, but there are no wide receivers for him to throw to. The defense has a chance to be very respectable, if Al Groh (the former Jets coach) can find himself some help at wide receiver. Replacing Eugene Monroe at left tackle is going to be a huge job. The Cavaliers are going to be hard-pressed to match last year's five wins.

At MARYLAND (+2500 at BetUS), Chris Turner should make more progress at the quarterback position. Darius Heyward-Bey went high in the NFL draft, but he wasn't overly productive in his last year, so sophomore Torrey Smith may be able to pick up the slack in terms of numbers. Da'Rel Scott, who had 1133 rushing yards, is a major asset. This team will look to pound the ball. Five starters return on defense. The Terps will have their work cut out for them getting to the .500 mark.

Last season, coach David Cutcliffe led DUKE (+5000 at BetUS) to four wins, which matched this team's total from the previous four years combined. Cutcliffe has QB Thaddeus Lewis back, and he should benefit greatly from another year of experience, but the other skill positions have to be replenished, and that is not the easiest thing in the world when you're at Duke. Running back Re'Quan Boyette, who is coming off an injury year, needs to come up big, because there are not a whole lot of places to turn. The Blue Devils are going to have a hard time stopping people too.

BOSTON COLLEGE (+5000 at BetUS) had controversy before the Music City Bowl, when Jeff Jagodzkinski interviewed for the New York Jets job. He was fired for doing that, and Frank Spaziani, who has been defensive coordinator for ten years, holds the job now. Defensive tackles Ron Brace and BJ Raji are missing from the middle of a strong defensive front, and the big blow was the news that linebacker Mark Herzlich, who had been projected as an All-American, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Dominique Davis should get the call at quarterback, which means that even with sophomore Montel Harris in the backfield (900 yards as a freshman), offensive life will be an adventure.

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