Jimmyshivers ACC Picks Week 3
ACC play is really beginning to approach full swing this week as we have largely moved on from the early season patsies that plague the schedules of all power 5 teams and are starting to get into conference play. This week in particular is interesting as we are rewarded for our early season patience with TWO weeknight ACC match-ups. I’m looking for a bounce back week this time out once again, let’s get into it!
Note: While the focus on this weekly column will be on ACC-only action, my handicapping style leads me to playing a much wider spectrum of college games (usually on Sunday afternoons as lines are released.) To see these picks please follow on twitter
Week 2 + YTD Summary
Week 2 grades:
Georgia Tech – Tulane O54.5 W. Grade A: Beat the closing number by a couple of points and as predicted Georgia Tech doing more than enough on their own to cover this total. Keep an eye on the Jackets when they play overmatched foes as they tend to hit big plays and score at will.
App State – Clemson O58 Lost. Grade D-: I was right in that Clemson moved the ball at will and were able to go for 40+ but we just didn’t get any help at all from App State here. I’m adjusting the Clemson Defense up a few notches in my rankings as I do believe that they shut down a solid App State offense who should light up the Sun Belt this season. App State did run for over 200 yards which is traditionally a recipe for getting consistent offense but it did not translate to the scoreboard. While this loss was close, extra points are deducted for getting beat by the closing number as this total wound up around 56
Wake Forest +4 & ML Lost. Grade D+: I was right in that Wake was able to move the ball all over this Cuse team, but they were let down by 3 interceptions and the inability to prevent the big play from the Orange in the second half. At one point in the second half the Deacs had a 64-29 play edge with a 400-200 yardage edge yet they only led by 3 points. The Deacs are still a team on my radar as a play-on squad this season but we need to see a little more care from John Wolford with taking care of the ball.
Virginia +12 Won. Grade B: This grade may seem a little harsh considering they almost won outright but until the Zaire injury in the 4th they were actually outside the number late. So possibly got a little lucky to cash this one when looking at the whole game.
Average Grade: C- PASS: Weird to give a passing grade on a losing week but the Wake play wins more often than it doesn’t and that was a big swing game. Still, we need to do better to pass the course this season, especially after the F grade earned in week 1.
Week 3 ACC Card
Louisville Cardinals +6.5 -105 Risking 1.05 units to win 1 unit
Louisville ML +215 Risking 0.5 units to win 1.075 units
Wow, is this an overreactionary line! Louisville is coming off a couple of close losses to a top 15-ish Auburn team and a home loss against Houston in a terrible sandwich spot. Count me as one of the few who agreed with the opening line of a Pick ‘em in this game (I had LOU -1 here) and while I get the reasoning behind the Clemson money here I think it’s a really an example of a runaway market evaluation based on a small sample size.
The big issue with Louisville right now is at QB, the Cardinals have now given 3 different QBs significant playing time in their opening 3 games. Normally for this to happen it takes an injury crisis but in this situation it is coming from a general frustration with the decision making process of the quarterbacks. Bobby Petrino isn’t saying who is going to be his QB tonight but I expect that we will see some combination of the mobile but young Lamar Jackson and the more traditional pocket passing of Kyle Bolin (last years QB 1-2 punch of Reggie Bonnafon and Will Gardner are also available should Petrino wish to deploy 1 QB for each quarter).
Usually when you are rotating QBs like Louisville has it is because the offense has really struggled, but that isn’t the case here as the Cardinals have generally had success moving the ball against both of their opening FBS opponents (especially in the 2nd half). While decision making has been questionable the Cardinals do have a couple of guys who can stretch the field and challenge a largely untested Clemson secondary (both Wofford and App State are run-first offenses).
For me this is a good spot to side with the home dog who are getting a few extra points at home in a must win game. At 0-0 in conference everything that Louisville realistically hoped to do this season is still on the table, and in prime time on National TV I expect we get a resilient effort. Going against a Tigers team with a rebuilt defense who is making a large step-up in class, I find great value with the battle tested home dog has their back to the wall. Not only am I taking the points, but I’m calling for the outright upset. Louisville 27 Clemson 21
Wake Forest Demon Deacons -6 -105 Risking 1.05 units to win 1 unit
I played Wake -2 at open. In general I’m relatively high on Wake Forest, I think in the 2nd year under Dave Clawson (with a severe system change) this is going to be a much improved program. The offense under 2nd year starter John Wolford has already shown major strides forward, and they were very competitive last week on the road at Syracuse (a game I felt they should have probably won) but were undone by a couple of forced interceptions. This week Wake stays on the road to visit West Point and face off against a downtrodden Army program who has started the season 0-2 (lost to Fordham as 2 TD chalk, lost but covered at UConn). While traditionally it is tough for teams to prepare for these run heavy squads I believe Wake to be well positioned for success here. The strength of the Deacons defense is their front 7 and this is one of the very few games on their schedule where they actually have better athletes than the team they are playing.
This is going to be a long season for Army, and I think an improving Wake team comes out focused here in one of the last games on their schedule that they can expect to be favored in. I made this line -8.5 for the Deacons so even with the line movement I would see some value on laying the points here, though I don’t like it nearly as much as I did at the original number. Wake 31 Army 17
North Carolina Tar Heels -8.5 -105 Risking 1.05 units to win 1 unit
I played UNC -6.5 at open. I’m going back to the well here with UNC, I was high on them to begin the season and even after the loss in Charlotte I’m still willing to give them another chance. Early returns indicate that the defensive growth under Gene Chizik is real and that UNC has greatly improved last year’s biggest weakness. While Marquise Williams was awful in the opener I’m still a believer that he has the weapons around him to minimize his need to force things and I’ve seen enough out of Elijah Hood to expect the Tar Heels to feel confident in using the run to set the passing game up down field. UNC moved the ball very well against South Carolina but were done in by 3 red zone INTs, something Williams didn’t do at all in 2014.
Illinois has enjoyed a decent start to the season (I backed them in the opener) following the dismissal of Tim Beckman but I just think for Bill Cubit’s first road game in charge it’s going to be difficult to match up on both sides of the ball. This is a massive step up in opponent class for Illinois and in these type of road games against good teams early in the season I expect the coaching continuity issue to potentially lead to some breakdowns. UNC 38 Illinois 21
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +3 -115 Risking 1.15 units to win 1 unit
Notre Dame ML +125 Risking 0.50 units to win 0.625 units
The preseason GOY line was Notre Dame -9, so is a QB who has started 3 games in his career really worth 12 points here? I have to take the value with the Irish at home getting a field goal, while I love Paul Johnson and Justin Thomas this is a really tough venue to go into and come out of with a W (especially when Notre Dame is actually good like they are this season). Even without Malik Zaire the Irish have a strong running game and a physical style of play that bodes well for facing the option. The Irish also play Navy every season so preparing for this type of offense is nothing new. Similar to Louisville + the points last night, this is a line that offers a lot of value and it behooves me to play on the more talented home dog. Irish 31 Yellow Jackets 28
Old Dominion Monarchs +17.5 -105 Risking 1.05 units
This is partially a numbers play as I made NCSU -12.5. I’m fading my Wolfpack this week in their first road outing of the season in what should be a solid environment as the Monarchs play a night game that will be their first time ever hosting a power 5 team. My outlook on this game is simple, I see two teams who will likely look to run the ball a lot which should keep the clock moving and the Troy game for NCSU left me with a lot of questions about just how good of a run defense they actually have. It’s my expectation that ODU is able to run the football well here and they may be able to sucker in an inexperienced secondary in for a few big plays over the top. NC State 34 Old Dominion 20
I played Florida State -7.5 today. Passing on current number as not enough time to get this posted for a write-up for people today.
I played Syracuse at -6 on Sunday. Passing at the current number
I played Duke -1 at open. Passing at the current number
I played Nebraska +5 at open. Passing at the current number
No lean in VT-Purdue