What are the ACC and commissioner John Swofford thinking here?
We stipulate it is very unlikely anyone in the ACC Atlantic Division was going to challenge the Clemson dynasty in 2020 anyway. But the team that finished in second in that division in 2019 was Louisville, and they seem primed to improve in head coach Scott Satterfield’s second season. If there was to be even a smidge of drama in the division, it would be between these teams.
So why are they playing in Week 2 and taking all the fun out of anything resembling a title race? If (when??) UL gets paved in Death Valley, they’ll need Clemson to lose twice inside the ACC Wheel of Destiny to advance. Good luck finding someone to take that action.
When and where
Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina
Clemson -23.5, the least Clemson has been favored by in an ACC game since Nov. 2018.
Why the line is what it is
Let us praise the direction Louisville is going and the status of their rebuild while filling in the smoking crater Bobby Petrino left behind. Satterfield was a terrific hire when Jeff Brohm passed, they won eight games last year with a decimated roster, and they’re recruiting better after having the worst class in the ACC in 2019.
Junior Malik Cunningham only threw for 2061 yards in 12 games, but he also ran for 482 more with six rushing scores, and most importantly he didn’t turn the football over: 22 touchdowns against only five interceptions for a less-than-talented offense. The Cards should be better this year.
But Clemson is an 800 lb. gorilla driving a military-grad tank that is -770 at DraftKings Sportsbook right now to claim their sixth-straight ACC crown. There’s a chance multiple NFL teams try and tank 2020 for the chance to draft quarterback Trevor Lawrence, and Clemson’s blue-chip ratio is a nice shade of cornflower.
And that’s before we get to Travis Etienne (probably another first-round pick), Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers, and plenty of other guys that can ball and have done so on the biggest stage in the sport two years in a row.
Clemson ranged from a 24.5-36.5 point favorite in their eight ACC games last year, and were 7-1 against the spread. They’re 29-1 under Lawrence ATS, and 13-3 ATS in ACC games. Good teams win, dynasties cover.
Why it might change
An injury to Cunningham would weight the number even further towards the Cards, but this shouldn’t move too much otherwise.
Where the value is now
It’s Clemson in an ACC game: lay the points, and stop sweating about halftime. FSU, Louisville, NC State, and the rest of the Atlantic Division don’t stand a chance this season.
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