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2021 College Football Betting: Revisiting 2021 preseason win totals bets

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7) runs the ball during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With just the annual Army-Navy game left of the 2021 college football regular season, most college football win totals have now been determined.

My picks finished 12-8 on the year, so now is as good a time as any to revisit those preseason predictions and to examine what went right and what went wrong for some of the biggest programs in the country.

Be sure to leverage NCAA Greenline to identify the best betting opportunities for Army-Navy, the College Football Playoff and beyond.

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ACC (4-0)

N.C. STATE Wolfpack over 6.5 wins
  • Record: 9-3
  • Status: Winner

The Wolfpack easily hit the over on the win total and ended the season with a thrilling comeback win against North Carolina. Quarterback Devin Leary managed to remain healthy for the entirety of the year, and his consistent play at the position put the team in a position of success. Leary was second in the conference with 31 big-time throws while keeping turnover-worthy plays to just nine. Additionally, his 1.8% turnover-worthy play rate was tied for the lowest of all ACC starters. Leary led a passing attack that resulted in 75 explosive plays passing, fifth in the conference.

DEVIN LEARY's collegiate career (2019-2021)
Year PFF Grade
2019 55.9
2020 78.9
2021 84.6

On the defensive side of the ball, their -0.138 expected points added (EPA) allowed per play ranked second in the conference behind Clemson. The Pack allowed 5.5 passing yards per attempt, the second-fewest in the ACC, and they allowed 4.2 rushing yards per attempt, fifth-best in the conference.

The star of the defense has to be linebacker Drake Thomas, who leads the team in overall grade at 80.2. Thomas was able to do it all, generating 24 total pressures, with five sacks, two hits and 17 hurries. He is the team leader in tackles and assists with 65 and 23, respectively, and he even notched three interceptions and four pass breakups.

FLORIDA STATE Seminoles under 5.5 wins
  • Record: 5-7
  • Status: Winner

An 0-4 start to the season is great for any under win total bet. Still, even with the bad start, the Seminoles managed to win five of their next seven to make it a sweat to the very last game.

A year ago, Florida State ranked ninth in the conference in team defense grade at 66.8 and 11th in the conference in team run-defense grade at 59.1. In 2021, those grades jumped up to 83.3 and 87.7, respectively, second and first in the ACC.

The drastic improvement was largely due to the acquisition of edge defenders Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas from the transfer portal. The duo combined for 24 sacks, 18 hits and 48 hurries, finishing first and third in the conference, respectively, in total pressures generated.

NORTH CAROLINA Tar Heels under 9.5 wins
  • Record: 6-6
  • Status: Winner

Expectations for this Tar Heels team were incredibly high because of quarterback Sam Howell, but their 3-3 start all but cashed this ticket in. Howell ended the campaign as the second-most-sacked quarterback in college football after being taken down 45 times on the year.

A Tar Heels team that lost NFL running backs Javonte Williams and Michael Carter and wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome was simply unable to support Howell this season, which forced the young quarterback to do it all with his arm and his legs.

One of the few bright spots on offense was wide receiver Josh Downs, who ranked fifth among qualifying ACC receivers in PFF receiving grade (84.0) and first in yards after the catch (737). 

Unfortunately, the defense continued to struggle, as shown by the collapse against N.C. State. The Tar Heels allowed 0.066 EPA per play, 11th in the ACC. Additionally, they finished ninth in the conference in team pass-rush grade (68.7) and 11th in team coverage grade (63.8).

GEORGIA TECH Yellow Jackets under 5 wins
  • Record: 3-9
  • Status: Winner

The Yellow Jackets closed out the season with six consecutive losses and were outscored 100-0 in their last two games.

If there was a unit of strength for this team, it was their stacked running back room that also benefitted from the quarterback Jeff Sims‘ ability as a runner. Still, the Yellow Jackets ranked above the ACC average in rushing yards per attempt at 5.6, sixth in the ACC.

Player Overall Grade Rushing Grade
Dontae Smith (RB) 89.7 86.8
Jahmyr Gibbs (RB) 88.3 86.2
Jeff Sims (QB) 70.3 82.9
Jordan Mason (RB) 73.3 75.5

The defense, on the other hand, struggled to get going all year. They finished 13th in the ACC in EPA allowed per play and an ACC-worst 9.73 passing yards allowed per attempt.

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