ACC Free Football Picks

#12 Texas A&M at #1 Clemson (-16), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

The flagship program of the ACC, Clemson will get its first test of the season Saturday. The Tigers are a known commodity. They have been No. 1 or No. 2 in the country for so long, there is a mindset that they will remain there.

This manner of thinking is typically what causes a program to find itself with inflated spreads. That air of invincibility can turn what should be a 14-point favorite into a 16-point favorite and create value on the underdog. In a matchup like this, against a team like Texas A&M, I believe this is the case.

Texas A&M is a team on the rise. After committing millions to facilities, the administration committed millions to national championship winning coach, Jimbo Fisher. In his first full recruiting season, Fisher brought in the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation, while Clemson had the 10th-ranked class last year. Texas A&M had the 17th-ranked class the year prior to that and the 13th-ranked class prior to that, so Fisher didn’t inherit a bare cupboard. And while Clemson has done a remarkable job developing talent, some of their top-end players from the last few years have already made their way to the NFL.

The Clemson offense is stacked with great players and as good as any in the country, but last week’s exhibition against Georgia Tech did nothing to prove the new defense’s merit. Texas A&M is a far more dangerous offense, with greater talent and schemes, and I’m betting Fisher and quarterback Kellen Mond will come into this matchup feeling like they can win the game outright.

Pick: Texas A&M +16

Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State (-22), Saturday, 5 p.m. ET, ACC Network

Florida State looked like it was back in the first quarter against Boise State, then the defense stayed on the field in the heat of a Florida afternoon, and offensive-line starter Brady Scott went down with injury. If the explosive offense we saw in the first quarter shows back up and the defense shows any ability whatsoever to stop Monroe, this could turn into the rout the Boise game looked like it should be.

Pick: Florida State -22

Syracuse at Maryland (-1.5), Saturday, noon ET, ESPN

Top 25 teams playing on the road against unranked teams that are actually favored have an absolutely miserable record. Since 2015 they are 4-19 straight up. It’s Maryland or nothing to top No. 21 Syracuse.

Pick: Maryland -1.5

Ohio at Pittsburgh (-4), Saturday, 11 a.m. ET, ACC Network

Pittsburgh lost another starting defensive lineman last week, and Ohio will be one of the contenders in the MAC this year. I’ll take the points in a game that should come down to the final possession. The Pittsburgh offense is also not in a position to be laying points.

Pick: Ohio +4

Miami (-4.5) at North Carolina, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ACC Network

Coach Mack Brown shocked the country with his big win last week. For Miami, however, this will be definite “class relief” game after it started the season two weeks ago against Florida. Miami is coming off a loss and UNC is coming off a win, so I think there’s value on Miami.

Pick: Miami -4.5


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