The ACC has played in the College Football Playoff every year, but let's look at why the conference may miss out this season. It starts with the Clemson Tigers.
Oddsmakers suggest it’s Clemson or bust for an ACC program to win the 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship. The Tigers are second choice nationally at +590 odds to win it all. No other conference school ranks in the top 10. Will the ACC miss the playoffs for the first time in the knockout tournament’s short history? Chances are higher than normal.
Here are the updated odds for all ACC teams to win next year’s title game courtesy of online sportsbook 5Dimes:
Miami (FL) +3500
Florida State +3500
Va. Tech +6000
N.C. State +24000
Wake Forest +32500
North Carolina +50000
Boston College +50000
Ga. Tech +60000
The Tigers have represented the ACC as the No. 1 or 2 seed in the College Football Playoff (CFP) in each of the last three seasons, winning the title in 2017 with a dramatic 35-31 victory over Alabama. They kicked off a top-10 betting choice in each year: +700 (2016), +2000 (2017), and +750 (2018).
The upcoming schedule is arguably the toughest of any of the aforementioned seasons. According to ESPN’s FPI index, Clemson owns the 15th-toughest campaign in the country. Can it finish the year with less than one loss? This is the unwritten standard set by the CFP committee in the selection process. Let’s take a look at where the Tigers may trip up.
Week 2 at Texas A&M is tricky. The matchup is noticeably absent from South Point sportsbook college football Games of the Year lines released May 24. Few know what to expect from the Aggies under new head coach Jimbo Fisher. The betting market considers them outside national title contenders, 22nd choice among all teams. The talent is there, and A&M could respond to Fisher even stronger.
Fisher is familiar with the Tigers after years of coaching Florida State, and you can bet College Station’s 12th man will be intimidating. This is a signature win in the making cementing Fisher’s hire. Clemson is 12-9 SU and ATS all-time under head coach Dabo Swinney against SEC competition. On the road, the record dips to 3-5 SU and 2-6 ATS. The Tigers average 22.8 points per game in the latter situation. They need to have the offense in rhythm early to put up enough points to secure a win. A high-profile quarterback battle may lead to even more unwanted pressure. Upset in the making?
Clemson’s next toughest tilt is at Florida State in Week 8. Advanced lines pit the Tigers 10-point favorites. The matchup is sandwiched between home dates against N.C. State and Louisville. Clemson should easily win each, but the Wolfpack, led by senior quarterback and NFL-prospect Ryan Finley, could expose the Tigers defense with a strong offensive attack. The Pack have dropped 30-plus points on Swinney’s D in two of the last three years. The Seminoles could design a few game-changing wrinkles if N.C. State exposes the Tigers in any way. Swinney has run the table just once (2015) against ACC opponents in nine years as coach.
Miami (FL) +3500
The Hurricanes, who won the ACC Coastal Division and made a trip to the Orange Bowl last season, return a ton of offensive weapons, and the turnover chain should parade the sidelines once again. They are easily the toughest competition to Clemson in the conference. The issue with head coach Mark Richt’s squad is at quarterback. Malik Rosier returns under center, but the fifth-year senior lacks the talent and support to lead the team to the CFP. During Miami’s three-game losing streak late last season, Rosier registered a lowly 44.9 completion percentage.
The schedule is challenging as well. The Canes open the season at AT&T Stadium versus LSU in the 2018 Advocare Classic. The Tigers have won 11 of their last 12 against ACC competition dating to the mid 1980s. Seven have been played on neutral soil. Miami dodges Clemson in the regular season, but travel to Boston College, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech in their final three ACC road games of the season. The Hokies will be the toughest of the three, Miami laying a field goal in advanced lines. Since 2006, the Hurricanes are 5-8 SU and 7-6 ATS on the road against the trio of conference rivals.
Florida State +3500
The Seminoles are loaded with talent, but will suffer growing pains learning new schemes under first-year head coach Willie Taggart. Florida State will adopt a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. Play-action passing and deep shots downfield will dominate. The defense, meanwhile, will likely take more chances and play aggressively. Taggart doesn’t have his particular pieces in place yet to thrive in the system.
FSU also owns the second-toughest schedule in the nation behind UCLA. Three games particularly stand out: at Miami (Week 6), Clemson (Week 10), and at Notre Dame (Week 12). The Seminoles are 10-point and 9-point underdogs in advanced lines against the Tigers and Fighting Irish. Winning two of three in this trio of games is daunting. Oh, and FSU has their annual matchup with Florida (+7), plays at N.C. State, and hosts Virginia Tech and Wake Forest on the season. One loss looks far off for a CFP invite.