When the season began, conventional wisdom suggested the Atlantic Coast Conference would be among the best conferences, if not the deepest.
Thus far, however, reality hasn’t met perception, with several notable teams falling short of expectations with a host of others mired in mediocrity exposing the ACC as a top heavy conference featuring one potentially great team (Clemson), maybe a couple of solid teams, then everyone else.
Here’s a look at the key games for college football betting fans in Week 5:
This is the ACC opener for Miami, while UNC began its conference campaign last weekend by defeating Pittsburgh 38-35. The Hurricanes have rolled off three consecutive wins since losing to LSU to kickoff its season, a run fueled by a balanced offense and an opportunistic defense that didn’t create any turnovers against the Tigers but has six since then.
Head coach Mark Richt hasn’t announced who will start at quarterback for the Hurricanes but all signs point toward redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry getting the nod to make his first career start.
Perry came in for an early series against FIU and ended playing the rest of the way, completing 17-of-25 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns, with an interception. If Perry produces a similar stat line Thursday night and the Hurricanes defense continues to ball hawk, UNC is going to be challenged to keep pace.
The Tar Heels got a much-needed win over Pittsburgh by scoring a season-high 38 points, but there are questions whether such an output is sustainable -- in its other two games (both losses) they scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, and rank 103 nationally in scoring offense.
Clemson continued its strong start to the season, rolling Georgia Tech 49-21 in a game that saw heralded freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence impress off the bench completing 13-of-18 passes for 176 yards and four touchdowns.
That performance earns him the start against the Orange, 4-0 for the first time since 1991 following a 51-21 drubbing of Connecticut.
Expectations are high for Lawrence, who was one of the most sought-after recruits coming out of high school. He will go up against an Orange defense susceptible to giving up passing yards (255.3 yards per game, 100th nationally) and solid defending the run (130.8 yard per game, 43rd nationally).
The Orange’s surprising start to the season is propelled by an offense featuring quarterback Eric Dungey, who also leads the team in rushing. Syracuse moves the ball quickly, puts up yards in bunches and often finds the end zone with its 49.9 points per game tied for 10th in the country.
And don’t forget, the Orange beat Clemson 27-24 last season -- though that game was played at the Carrier Dome whereas Saturday’s tilt is at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium. And beating Clemson is far more difficult to accomplish in Death Valley, lending credence to the Tigers covering the 24-point spread. Bet Clemson -24 at SugarHouse.
As evident by the close six-point spread at SugarHouse, this should be a competitive matchup with a case to be made for either team. North Carolina State is the favorite, likely based off its high powered offense that is ranked fourth in passing yards nationally -- with the caveat that the Wolfpack haven’t yet played a Power 5 team.
Virginia certainly offers North Carolina Sate its toughest opponent of the season. Working in the Cavaliers favor is the ability to defend the pass, though they too haven’t played anyone exceptional. Virginia’s wins have come against Richmond, Ohio and Louisville, with its lone loss coming against Indiana.
The difference will likely come down to turnovers and whether Virginia can run the ball. The Cavaliers need to pound out first downs, control the clock and keep the Wolfpack offense off the field. If they can’t, Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley should have opportunities to make plays and put up points.
We like NC State, but it won’t cover the 5.5 point line. Take Virginia and the points at SugarHouse.
Of the two teams, it is Duke that is ranked not Virginia Tech, with the Hokies shockingly being upset by Old Dominion last weekend. Adding to Virginia Tech’s woes is that starting quarterback Josh Jackson is out indefinitely with a fractured tibia suffered in the loss to the Monarchs.
Duke is also without its starting quarterback, Daniel Jones, who broke his clavicle in a win over Northwestern on Sept. 8. The third-year starter returned to practice last week, but has yet to take a snap in a game with redshirt junior Quentin Harris effectively filling in the past two games.
However, Harris was dinged up against North Carolina Central, but he is expected to be available this weekend.
Virginia Tech’s defense had an abomination of a game vs. Old Dominion, allowing 49 points and 632 yards of total offense to a Monarchs offense that has often struggled this season. And on Sunday, head coach Justin Fuente announced starting defensive end Trevon Hill had been dismissed from the team for an unspecified rules violation.
Losing Hill, who led the team in sacks, will make it even tougher for the Hokies to put last week’s stunning loss behind them and gives the potent Blue Devils offense the edge.