Odds & Picks To Win The ACCNoah Williams
With Clemson Reloading, Who’s the Pick to Win ACC in 2017?
With superstar signal-caller, Deshaun Watson off to the NFL, the defending ACC and NCAA national champion Clemson Tigers are no longer the favorites to win the suddenly improved ACC in 2017. Heading into the upcoming campaign, the perennially competitive Florida State Seminoles are now the pick to win the ACC and could challenge for a berth in the four-team College Football Playoff, thanks in large part to their own gifted dual-threat star quarterback.
Will the Noles fulfill their status as conference favorites, or will some other title contender like the Louisville Cardinals and 2016 Heisman trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson get the conference upset? More importantly, could Florida State and Louisville both succumb to an ever longer shot conference contenders in 2017, like Clemson, Virginia Tech or Miami? If you’ve got questions, then I’ve got answers in the form of this expert ACC title odds and picks preview.
2017 Odds & Picks To Win The ACC Title
The Odds-On Favorite To Win The ACC: Florida State Seminoles -110
The Seminoles are the odds on favorite to bag the ACC title in 2017 and understandably so, seeing as how they’ve got a really gifted – and level-headed – dual-threat star in redshirt sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois (3,350 yards, 20 touchdowns) and a boatload of talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Florida State ranked 25th nationally in total offense and 31st in scoring (35.1 ppg) while also finishing 22nd in total defense and 45th in points allowed (25.0 ppg). While the Noles lost superstar running back Dalvin Cook, starting left tackle Rod Johnson and No. 1 wide receiver Travis Rudolph, they’ve got plenty of talent at the skill positions and will have what looks like a defense that could be downright dominant at all three levels. If head coach Jimbo Fisher can get his inexperienced offensive line to come together early on, Florida State could end up playing for a lot more than the conference championship in 2017.
The Smart Pick To Win The ACC: Louisville Cardinals +550
Louisville ranked a stellar third nationally in total offense last year and sixth in scoring (42.5 ppg) and will put plenty of points on the board again in 2017 under the leadership of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson. Now a junior, Jackson dominated like we’ve rarely seen and put up some video game numbers by passing for 3,543 yards with 30 TD strikes and just nine picks while rushing for an additional 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Now, heading into 2017, Louisville could be a factor for the conference title if they can address some offensive line woes that plagued them last season in allowing a conference-high 47 sacks and find a few playmakers at the skill positions to take some of the pressure off Jackson to do it all.
On the defensive side of the ball, head coach Bobby Petrino changed coordinators by replacing Todd Grantham with Peter Sirmon, the Mississippi State defensive coordinator last season. The Cardinals need their defensive line and linebacker units to perform right away, but return all four starters in the secondary from a unit that ranked a surprising 14th nationally in total defense and respectable 31st in points allowed (23.8 ppg). After dropping their final three games last season, motivation shouldn’t be a problem for Louisville as they look to build on their mostly positive 2016 campaign behind the jaw-dropping heroics of Lamar Jackson.
The Long Shot Pick: Virginia Tech Hokies +900
While the Hokies won 10 games and bagged the Coastal Division crown a year ago, no one is really talking abut them very much heading into 2017, but I think they could surprise in a big way – if they can replace their departed stars sufficiently, starting with quarterback Jerod Evans.
Three players, 2016 backup Josh Jackson, junior college recruit A.J. Bush and true freshman Hendon Hooker are all in the running to be the starter this year, though right now, it looks like it will be the more experienced Jackson. In addition to replacing Evans, Virginia tech also needs to find a pair of starters to replace No. 1 wideout Isaiah Ford and tight end Bucky Hodges who both will be playing on Sundays this fall. The Hokies also need to find out who will be their starting running back, although there is good news in the form of a somewhat experienced offensive line.
While head coach Justin Fuente is known for having one of the best offensive minds in the game today, it looks like Virginia Tech’s strength in 2017 will be an experienced defense that finished 2016 ranked an impressive 28th in points allowed (22.8 ppg). The Hokies have a pair of cornerbacks that are both, sure-fire future NFL performers in Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman and a quartet of linebackers that could be as good as any group in the country.