Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) warms up for the team’s NCAA college football game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)
- Six-time reigning champion Clemson is a massive favorite to win the ACC Championship yet again.
- The Tigers’ roster is stacked, despite losing Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers
- Read below for ACC analysis for the 2021 season, and a pick to win the conference.
For the past six years Clemson football has ruled the ACC and oddsmakers don’t expect that to change anytime soon. The Tigers are an overwhelming favorite to win the conference championship for the seventh straight season, despite some key losses to the NFL on the offensive side of the ball.
2021 ACC Football Conference Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|North Carolina Tar Heels||+700|
|NC State Wolfpack||+1600|
|Virginia Tech Hokies||+2500|
|Florida State Seminoles||+3300|
|Boston College Eagles||+5000|
|Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets||+5000|
|Wake Forest Demon Deacons||+5000|
|Duke Blue Devils||+10000|
Odds as of April 18th.
Clemson’s ACC Championship Odds are not only the shortest by a wide margin in the conference, they’re also significantly shorter than any other favorite in a Power 5 conference. The next heaviest favorites are Oklahoma in the Big 12 and Ohio State in the Big Ten, and they’re listed at -125 and -110 respectively.
Clemson Faces Cupcake Schedule
Barring a series of catastrophic injuries, the Tigers appear destined to be playing in the ACC Championship game at the very least. Their schedule is riddled with non-threatening opponents, and aside from their season opener versus Georgia at a neutral site, there doesn’t appear to be an opportunity for a slip-up.
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) April 12, 2021
Neither North Carolina, more on them later, or Miami, the two programs with the next shortest ACC Championship odds after Clemson, are on the Tigers’ schedule, while NC State will be their stiffest ACC test.
Stars Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Amari Rodgers are all NFL bound, but Clemson doesn’t rebuild, they retool. D.J. Uiagalelei will take over for Lawrence, and we’ve already seen the video game numbers he can produce.
DJ Uiagalelei leading the Clemson comeback 😤 pic.twitter.com/Ccxab34uLe
— Saturday Gameday (@SaturdayGameday) October 31, 2020
In two 2020 starts with Lawrence out due to COVID, Uiagalelei threw for 781 yards and 4 TD, while racking up two scores on the ground.
The running back and receiver groups are loaded with depth to handle to the departures of Etienne and Rodgers, with each group group featuring an exciting freshman in Will Shipley and Beaux Collins.
Beaux knows touchdowns. @beaux_collins
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) April 3, 2021
The offensive line, which was made up of four first-year starters in 2020, should take a step forward, as should the defensive line, which has been underwhelming over the last two seasons. Star sophomores Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee will anchor a unit that is expected to be reminiscent of the one featured on the National Championship teams of 2016 and 2018.
However, even if all the signs point to Clemson winning another ACC title, the opportunity cost is way too high to bet. The amount of money you’d have to wager to make it worth your while makes the Tigers a pass, even though their win probability is ridiculously high (89.3% according to oddsmakers).
North Carolina on the Rise
Instead of backing Clemson, consider North Carolina at a much more favorable price. The Tar Heels are fresh off their first 8-win season since 2016, and an Orange Bowl appearance, just their fourth Major Bowl Game since 1949.
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) April 18, 2021
They finished 2020 ranked #18 in the AP Top-25 and boast a top-15 recruiting class heading into 2021. Mack Brown, the nation’s only active Hall-of-Fame coach, and his staff have been extended through the 2025 season, and several of the program’s most important starters are returning.
SAM HOWELL IS MR 4TH QUARTER
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 3, 2021
That list includes Heisman hopeful Sam Howell, who has thrown for over 7,000 yards and 68 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Every starter on the offensive line is back to keep Howell upright, while 10 of 11 defensive starters are also returning.
North Carolina will have to replace its leading rusher (Michael Carter) and leading receiver (Dyami Brown), but expectations are very high for Ty Chandler, a graduate transfer RB from Tennessee, as well as the returning wideouts.
The Tar Heels schedule is filled with winnable games, with their biggest tests coming versus Miami and at Notre Dame. UNC crushed the Hurricanes 62-26 last year, a victory that earned them an Orange Bowl trip, and were tied with the Fighting Irish at halftime, before falling 31-17.
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) April 15, 2021
They finished third in the entire FBS in yards per play in 2020 (7.6) and represent the biggest challenge to Clemson’s reign of dominance.
+700 is a great price for a program on the rise, with a Hall-of-Fame coach and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate under center.
Pick: North Carolina Tar Heels (+700)
Chris began his career at Hockey Night in Canada over 15 years ago. He has since worked at TSN for over 12 years as a writer, line-up producer, field producer, newsroom supervisor for Sportscentre, and presently as a promotions producer.