- Virginia has gone from 2018 surprise to 2019 Coastal Division favorite
- The ACC Coastal has a recent history of churn, giving even more credibility to the upstart Cavaliers
- Miami and Virginia Tech are not far behind as in-division threats
The last four years have seen the same story in the ACC Championship Game: a different team from the Coastal Division crashing the party, just to fall to Clemson.
Frankly, I see no reason for that trend to discontinue this year, since Clemson is on a talent level only rivaled by Alabama and Ohio State. Plus, Clemson has averaged 41.75 points per game in ACC Championship Games in the last four years, and this year’s offense should be the better than all of them.
That being the case, the intriguing question isn’t who will be the ACC Champion, but who will make the game from the Coastal.
Who Will Win the 2019 ACC Title?
*Odds as of 08/14/2019.
The Coastal has had that reputation for years now, thanks to crowning a different champion in each of the last six seasons. In some cases, those division champions ended their seasons with pedestrian 7-7 records.
This year, the darling is the one team in the division that hasn’t won a title in that span: Virginia.
Virginia Came Out of Nowhere in 2018
On June 11, 2018, Bronco Mendenhall made some headlines for brutally bashing the quality of the roster he inherited. He told The Daily Progress that UVA had exactly 27 ACC-caliber players.
Eighteen weeks later, the Cavaliers were 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the ACC that Mendenhall said his team wasn’t good enough to play in.
As is typical, a breakout quarterback received a good bit of the credit for that. Freshman Bryce Perkins ultimately finished third in the conference in total offense (277.2 yards per game), third in quarterback rating (147.45) and second in rushing yards by quarterbacks (923), only 48 yards behind triple-option pivot TaQuon Marshall at Georgia Tech.
But, Perkins does lose substantial weapons in 1,000-yard rusher Jordan Ellis and an All-Conference receiver in Olamide Zaccheaus. Multiple offensive line defections means Perkins has a much tougher task ahead in 2019.
The defense has THE potential to be roughly what it was last season (44th in the nation in yards per play, fifth in the ACC), but the offensive production has to stay consistent if this team wants to jump to the top of the Coastal.
Why Are UVA’s ACC Odds Improving So Drastically?
None of the particulars around this 2019 team explain why UVA has seen its 2019 NCAAF conference championship odds jump so drastically of late, especially given the perils of the schedule and its lean toward difficult road games early on, including a season-opener at Pitt plus a trip to Miami directly after a trip to Notre Dame.
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) August 9, 2019
Miami did recently announce Jarren Williams as its starting quarterback, which was very much a surprise to the college football community given the presence of Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, so there’s reason to be pessimistic about the ceiling for the 2019 Hurricanes. But that doesn’t justify UVA’s jump.
Truth be told, I can’t figure out why Virginia recently got the huge bump in conference title odds, aside from some bettor laying a large wager on the Wahoos. It clearly wasn’t enough to threaten Clemson’s dominance — which is a good thing, since the Cavaliers won’t do that — but this is still a Virginia team with holes to fill and little time to figure them out.
Losses in either the season opener at Pitt or in the Miami game put the Cavaliers in a tough spot to start all while looking ahead to ending the season with Virginia Tech.
Teams with holes have been winning the Coastal every year for several years running now, so there’s nothing stopping Virginia from having it all break their way and winning that division — which I suppose is all they need to be Clemson’s biggest threat while it waits for Florida State to gets its affairs in order.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.