With two-time Davy O’Brien Award winner Deshaun Watson finally off to the NFL, the Clemson Tigers will need to replace one of their best players of all time. The defending national champion Tigers are expected to tab junior Kelly Bryant as Watson’s successor at quarterback, as they look to defend their conference title as the +300 second choice to take their third straight behind the Florida State Seminoles (+110).
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Bryant is battling a pair of freshmen in Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson but figures to have the upper hand for the starting job due to his experience heading into his third season in the system. Clemson finished 14-1 last year, capped by an upset of the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide in an NCAA title rematch. The Tigers host the Seminoles on November 11 in a key ACC Atlantic Division matchup.
Florida State returns its quarterback in sophomore Deondre Francois and was third in the ACC Atlantic a year ago behind Clemson and the Louisville Cardinals. Francois is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates from the ACC at +1800 in addition to 2016 winner Lamar Jackson (+800), the Louisville quarterback who took the country by storm early last season before tailing off at the end. The Seminoles do have to replace running back Dalvin Cook, who was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the second round.
The Cardinals got off to a 9-1 start but lost their last three games, including a 29-9 defeat to the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl. Jackson struggled against LSU’s defense, completing just 10 of 27 passes for 153 yards with no touchdowns. He still finished his junior Heisman-winning campaign with 3,543 passing yards and 1,571 rushing yards. Louisville is the co-third choice to win the ACC with the Miami Hurricanes at +600.
Miami has surprisingly never made it to the ACC Championship Game despite playing in the weaker Coastal Division since joining the conference in 2004. The first ACC Championship Game took place the following year in 2005, with the Virginia Tech Hokies winning the Coastal six times in 12 seasons. The Hokies won it last year too, and they are listed at +700 to win their first conference title since 2010.