Conference realignment has left the Atlantic Coast Conference untouched for now and in the future as things stand. Not that it has a major impact on this season, but it does at least provide some continuity.
Though last year, Pittsburgh beat Wake Forest in the ACC championship game, ending a run of six straight seasons that Clemson won the conference. It had been a decade since any program other than Clemson or Florida State had won.
But who is back on top as the early ACC favorite? Clemson at -140. The Tigers are ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason rankings. Let’s take a look at the NCAA Conference Tournaments Odds favorites to win the ACC Championship this season.
Best ACC Title Bets and their Odds for the 2022 Season
There are several reasons not to take the Tigers. For starters, they lost both of their coordinators from their run of dominance.
Tony Elliott joined the staff in 2011 and had some offensive coordinator responsibilities from 2015-21 before leaving to become Virginia’s head coach. Brent Venables, widely regarded as the best assistant in all of football as defensive coordinator from 2012-21, left to take Oklahoma’s head coaching position.
Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei was the top QB recruit in his class but struggled as the starter. He completed only 55.6% of his passes, ranking 98th nationally, and led a passing attack that was 103rd nationally in yards per game.
With a pair of first-year coordinators promoted from within and a needed bounce-back year from Uiagalelei, will there be enough to build on a dominant defense and four returning starters on each the offensive and defensive lines? We’ll see.
Here are a few others to consider.
Is the U back? It’s an age-old question, but they did bring back alum Mario Cristobal to lead the program, luring him away from Oregon with all the resources he could need. The recruiting has picked up, and sophomore quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is as good as advertised.
The Hurricanes were inexperienced defensively en route to a 7-5 season, but that experience was valuable as five freshmen started the final game. Now the Hurricanes have, who many feel is a top-notch coach, and a wide-open Coastal division to be the top pick.
NC State +750
Located in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina State has had some great quarterbacks with Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Jacoby Brissett, and now Devin Leary.
It’s why many see the NC State Wolfpack improving on 9-3 and winning the ACC should any of the aforementioned Clemson hesitance come to fruition. Leary threw for 3,433 yards and had 35 touchdowns to five interceptions last season.
With four starting offensive linemen, two wide receivers, and Leary back offensively, and then ten returning starters on defense, Dave Doeren’s squad has never had higher expectations. The ACC opener on Oct. 1 at Clemson could give them a clear path to the Atlantic Division title with a victory.
Kenny Pickett was a first-round pick to the in-town Steelers, and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison transferred to Southern Cal from last season’s ACC title team. But Trojan transfer Kedon Slovis is in to guide a new offense.
The Panthers return seven starters on offense, including such a physical offensive line. Pat Narduzzi is a defensive coach and has seven starters back on that side of the ball, too. The Pittsburgh Panthers play in the weaker Coastal Division and avoid Clemson and Florida State on the league slate.
Road games are at Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, and Miami, so there are mild atmospheres in comparison. They are also tested in non-conference play, with the Backyard Brawl returning against West Virginia and then a great Tennessee team.
Wake Forest +1600
The Atlantic Division is clearly stronger than the Coastal, and Wake Forest may be the sleeper that wins over bettors’ hearts. The Demon Deacons return nine starters on offense and six on defense.
Dave Clawson is a magician offensively, and with Sam Hartman back at QB after throwing for 4,228 yards and 39 touchdowns to 14 interceptions while also rushing for 11 TDs, Winston-Salem has a lot of belief.
The schedule, however, is not favorable with Clemson at home on Sept. 24 and then a trip to Tallahassee to see a prove-it Florida State team the following week. If they win early, they visit NC State on Nov. 5.