2018 ACC win total picks, predictions: Clemson, Miami will try to live up to big numbers

As Clemson eyes a fourth-straight College Football Playoff appearance, the rest of the ACC enters 2018 looking up at the three-time reigning champs hoping not only to knock off the Tigers -- as Pittsburgh and Syracuse have done in recent years -- but take their spot atop the ACC. The team closest to doing so, in the eyes of the oddsmakers, is the defending Coastal Division champion Miami Hurricanes. 

It shouldn't come as a shock that the Tigers and Hurricanes have the highest projected win totals, according to South Point Casino, with Virginia Tech a few wins back at 8.5 and then 10 of the league's 14 teams fighting for real estate in the pecking order, all with projected totals between 5 wins and 7 wins. 

That kind of crowded middle makes for some picks that are sure to make you sweat during conference play in October and November, but what where would the fun in a win total pick be if you didn't have to endure some agony late in the year.

For those uninitiated on "prices," minus-odds of -120 mean you'd have to wager $120 to win $100, while plus-odds (+120) means wagering $100 would win you $120. An "EVEN" price would result in a $100 payout for a $100 wager. 


5.5 wins: Steve Addazio has been at Boston College for five seasons, finishing 7-6 in four of them. While the styles of offense have changed across those teams (the defense would never), the best football seems to be played when there's been a go-to player in the backfield. What Andre Williams did in 2013 is absolutely in the cards for A.J. Dillon in 2018, making another bowl year seem likely for Addazio. -- Over -120, Under EVEN

11 wins: Every year is different and sustained success becomes increasingly difficult every year, but if Clemson does not make the College Football Playoff, it's going to be a bummer because they have the best roster in the country. The Tigers have talent stacked atop talent with the only real unknown being the quarterback position. Solid-to-good play under center gets them to 11-12 regular season wins; excellent play gets Dabo a second CFP National Championship. -- Over EVEN, Under -120

6.5 wins: I think this total speaks to a certain level of confidence that the oddsmakers have in Duke this year, considering the Blue Devils play at Clemson, at Miami, at Northwestern, at Baylor and host a very good Army team on the first weekend of the season. While toppling the Tigers and Canes aren't in my forecast, I think this Duke team, led by Daniel Jones, turned a corner in the middle of the 2017 season and played its best football at the end of the year. That finish has been the building block for the offseason in Durham, and with a strong nonconference performance, I think Duke gets to seven or eight wins in 2018. -- Over -110, Under -110

7.5 wins: The tipping point for my Florida State over and Virginia Tech under is predicting the Seminoles to win in Willie Taggart's Tallahassee debut on Labor Day. It's an absolute monster of a game that should make for a tremendous atmosphere, and marking that as a "W" for FSU has be predicting an 8-4 finish. Playing Miami on the road one week after a trip to Louisville isn't a fun turnaround, neither is playing the Clemson game being followed by back-to-back road games against NC State and Notre Dame. It won't be long before Willie Taggart has the Seminoles winning 10+ games again but with a schedule like this 2018 does not seem to be the year. -- Over -110, Under -110

5.5 wins: Usually it's when everyone picks Georgia Tech to finish sixth in the ACC Coastal before the year that Paul Johnson ends up in Charlotte playing for the ACC Championship after winning a tiebreaker. At some point in this exercise, you've established opinions on certain games (opinions that will change) and that's going to dictate the count for both teams involved. South Florida could be tough in Week 2, and it doesn't get much easier playing at Pitt and hosting Clemson all before the end of September. With a potential 1-3 start, two or three more conference losses and Georgia at the end of the year it's looking more like 5-7 than 6-6. So join me in congratulating the 2018 ACC Coastal Champs, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets! -- Over -120, Under EVEN

7 wins: Oh there's a team in the ACC Atlantic Division that has to play Alabama in the season opener? Smash that under! I'm not expecting the Florida State-like slide that we saw from a year ago but the division is tough enough without adding the Tide. Count me in for guessing that Alabama, Florida State, Wake Forest and Clemson are losses, along with some combination of NC State, Georgia Tech and/or Boston College to finish 6-6 or 7-5. -- Over -110, Under -110

10 wins: The main premise for my confidence in Miami's win total is the belief that there is a degree of separation between the Hurricanes and the rest of the division. Jaquan Johnson and Shaq Quarterman are going to lead one of the best defensive units in the league, if not the country, and the takeaway from the last two or three recruiting classes is that Mark Richt has built the Hurricanes to be contending for ACC titles on an annual basis. I think Miami will beat LSU in the opener and take down Florida State, leaving trips to Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech as the biggest hurdles for CFP and ACC Championship Game contention. -- Over EVEN, Under -120

5 wins: It was just a few short years ago that North Carolina took Deshaun Watson and Clemson to the wire in the ACC Championship Game. The free fall to the bottom of odds lists like this has been a little bit jarring, because the expectation for a coach like Larry Fedora (77-53 record in 10 years as a head coach) after going 3-9 is a quick course correction. I think the Tar Heels get to six wins, but I agree with the oddsmakers that it's going to be tough with Cal, UCF and a road trip to East Carolina on the schedule. -- Over EVEN, Under -120

7 wins: This number seems about right, and whether the Wolfpack can exceed Vegas' expectation will come down to whether the next line of defensive starters is ready to compliment what should be a very efficient and effective offense led by Ryan Finley. It wasn't just Bradley Chubb leading the way during NC State's climb over the last couple years, it was a host of upperclassmen put through a trial-by-fire development process after being thrust into the lineup early in their careers. It's a big year for the analysis of program depth in Raleigh, and I think there's been enough good work to expect seven or eight wins in 2018. -- Over -110, Under -110

5.5 wins: It's a real tough schedule for a Pitt team in transition, one working its way back to the form that resulted in back-to-back runner-up finishes in the Coastal Division during Pat Narduzzi's first two seasons. The Panthers have Penn State, UCF and Notre Dame as nonconference opponents and their rotation cross-division battle is a late November road game at Wake Forest. Kenny Pickett is an exciting talent that will be worth keeping an eye on this year, but with concerns elsewhere on the depth chart, it's going to be an uphill battle against that schedule. -- Over EVEN, Under -120

6 wins: This is tough because we expect to see a breakthrough for Dino Babers here in year three with the Orange. He said prior to last season the light usually comes on for his teams in the middle of year two, and we saw that as they took down Clemson. The opportunities for similar home upsets will be there in 2018 with Florida State and Louisville coming to the Carrier Dome, but I'm more concerned about the Orange getting it done at the end of the season with three tough games in November on the road. -- Over -110, Under -110

5 wins: It took the dedication of a special senior class led by players like Micah Kiser and Quin Blanding to get Virginia up out of the basement in the ACC Coastal. Repeating that success in Bronco Mendenhall's third year now becomes an indication of how player development has been going in Charlottesville. On paper, Virginia's personnel is good enough to win six games, but with no clear-advantage against most of its conference opponents and a road game at Indiana, I'm thinking bowl eligibility will be a tough feat to repeat. -- Over -110, Under -110

8.5 wins: There were some grinding wins for Virginia Tech last year. Justin Fuente's 2016 team was one of the most potent offensive teams in the ACC but the 2017 squad ran out of gas towards the end of season. Josh Jackson could be very good this fall, but he also might not be the starter, or the best quarterback for the Hokies. With uncertainty at quarterback and some serious competition on the schedule with Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami, 8-4 seems more likely than 9-3. -- Over -110, Under -110

6 wins: Nothing comes easy for the program representing the smallest undergraduate enrollment of all Power Five schools, but six wins should be easy. It speaks to the thin margin for success in the Atlantic that one hand you can be supremely confident in bowl eligibility for the Deacs but also unsure of a path to 7+ wins. Counting Clemson, Florida State and NC State as losses -- Wolfpack on Thursday night at home against a Wake team that has won in Raleigh once, in 2006, in the last 30 years is the lock of the year of the century -- set a ceiling of seven or eight wins with six as the floor. -- Over -120, Under EVEN
CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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