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Seminoles Narrow Favorite in ACC

Despite uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Florida State Seminoles are considered the ACC favorite.

Despite uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Florida State Seminoles are considered the ACC favorite.

The Florida State Seminoles are favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, according to leading bookmaker Bovada.

The defending ACC champions are narrowly preferred over the Clemson Tigers, the team the Seminoles beat out for the Atlantic Division title last year by way of a 49-37 win early in the season.

The Miami Hurricanes are considered third favorite within the conference but are expected to win the Coastal Division.

BettingSports.com takes a closer look at the conference, one that while it might not be favored over the likes of the SEC and Big Ten, will certainly serve up some interesting plotlines and talking points as the season progresses.

Note: All odds quoted are sourced from Bovada’s College Football futures and are accurate as of June 30.

Florida State Seminoles

2012_ACC_StandingsWith 22/1 odds of winning the 2013-14 BCS National Championship, the Florida Seminoles rank No. 8 in the country, according to Bovada. While a longshot to start with, those odds do have the Seminoles out in front of the rest of the ACC, just.

Jimbo Fisher’s side emerged as the ACC champion last campaign, going on to defeat the upstart Northern Illinois Huskies in the Discover Orange Bowl. The Seminoles didn’t face the toughest route to the championship though. A win over Clemson on September 22 proved the key to securing the Atlantic Division but with both the North Carolina Tar Heels and Miami Hurricanes serving suspensions, an ACC Championship Game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets made things a little easier. Still, it’s not how you got there; it’s that you got there.

The Seminoles will be without quarterback E.J. Manuel, who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the NFL Draft, as well as Rodney Smith, who caught 38 balls for 524 yards last season. Importantly, all five starting offensive linemen return. Clint Trickett was expected to take over from Manuel, but his recent transfer to West Virginia leaves the position in doubt.

Florida State’s schedule has a few banana skins on it. Road games against Clemson and the Florida Gators will be tough to win while a home game against the Hurricanes will be for more than bragging rights.

The Seminoles begin their season on September 2 with a visit to conference newcomers, the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Tajh Boyd is expected to a Heisman candidate as he looks to guide the Clemson Tigers to success.

Tajh Boyd is expected to a Heisman candidate as he looks to guide the Clemson Tigers to success.

Clemson Tigers

Clemson finds itself narrowly behind the Seminoles, with 25/1 odds of winning a national championship.

After the disappointment of losing out to their division rivals for the conference championship, the Tigers defeated the LSU Tigers 25-24 in a competitive Chick-fil-A Bowl, to close out the season on a high.

Dabo Swinney’s side will take to the field in August confident that they can take the conference this year, particularly as they return eight starters on offense and seven on defense. The biggest loss with be running back Andre Ellington, who tallied 1,081 yards last season, but with quarterback Tajh Boyd and receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins – who combined for 2,113 receiving yards last year – returning, this could be an aerial-minded team.

With a more stable starting lineup, don’t be surprised if the Tigers are favored over the Seminoles before season’s start.

Boyd is currently listed on Bovada’s list of Heisman trophy candidates at 16/, tied for 11th place with Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks.

Clemson begins its season hosting the Georgia Bulldogs in a primetime game on Saturday, August 31.

Running back Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes are favored in the ACC's Coastal Division.

Running back Duke Johnson and the Miami Hurricanes are favored in the ACC’s Coastal Division.

Miami Hurricanes

The Hurricanes currently have 28/1 odds to be crowned champions in January, putting the school within touching distance of both Florida State and Clemson. With the ’canes playing in the (perceivably) weaker Coastal Division, those odds could be shortened before the season kicks off.

Miami will return most of its significant players from a season ago, including quarterback Stephen Morris, running back Duke Johnson, and leading receiver, Philip Dorsett. Add to this a schedule that looks fairly manageable – Florida and Florida State are the major hurdles that need jumping – and you have a team that will be in the running for the ACC championship at least.

Johnson is currently tied for seventh place on Bovada’s Heisman list with Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas at 14/1. Morris has odds of 25/1 of taking home the award, leaving him tied with Ameer Abdullah of the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Brett Hundley of the UCLA Bruins.

Miami opens its season at home against Florida Atlantic on August 30 before hosting the Florida Gators one week later.

The Field

There’s a big drop-off after the ACC’s top three. Next on Bovada’s list are North Carolina and the Virginia Tech Hokies, both at 150/1.

ACC_oddsThe Tar Heels will look much the same this season as they return almost the entire defense and much of the offense. The biggest loss will be running back Giovani Bernard, who opted for the NFL after rushing for 2,481 yards in his two years at UNC.

The Hokies finished last season with a 4-4 record. The school’s major advantage this season comes from returning almost the entire defense, something that could help the side to make a move up the Coastal Division.

Last year’s Coastal Division champions Georgia Tech are projected to slide this year as both Miami and North Carolina are once again eligible. At 200/1, it’s unlikely the Yellow Jackets will threaten the BCS standings this year.

After a disappointing end to its Big East tenure, Pittsburgh will hope its new surroundings bring success. Bookmakers suspect this success won’t come in the school’s debutant season. Like the Yellow Jackets, the Panthers are considered 200/1 to win the title.

The Boston College Eagles are considered 300/1 to win the title, despite finishing last season with an ACC-worst 1-7 conference record.

The conference’s other newcomer – the Syracuse Orange – do not figure in Bovada’s current College Football Futures list, despite finishing last season with a better record than former Big East rivals, Pittsburgh.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Duke Blue Devils, Virginia Cavaliers, and Maryland Terrapins – playing in their final ACC season – are also absent from the Bovada list, with little expected of each school this season.

The full 2013 ACC football schedule can be found here.

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