Clemson NCAAF Betting Favorite Over North Carolina
It’s been 34 years since the Clemson Tigers went undefeated and won a national championship, but they have a chance to repeat their storied 1981 season, with only three games remaining in their way. The first takes place this Saturday, as Clemson (12-0) takes on the Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina (11-1) in the ACC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte where the Tigers are listed as -5.5 NCAAF betting favorites to take the match.
The Tigers are favored to win by six points, and the over-under total is set at 64. Let’s take a closer look at this matchup.
— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) November 30, 2015
Currently, Clemson sits at the #1 position in the College Football Playoff standings, but the Tar Heels could enter the conversation for the CFP if they win this game. They only have one loss, a Week 1 slipup to the South Carolina Gamecocks. South Carolina has had an awful season, and the win over Clemson could make UNC attractive to the committee. Based on the way the CFP sits now, the Tar Heels would have to jump over Notre Dame, Stanford and Michigan State to get into that slot, but that’s not out of the realm of possibility, given that Notre Dame has two losses. If Stanford loses in the Pac-12 title game, that would give them two losses. Michigan State could fall in the Big 10 title game to Iowa, which would give them a second loss.
North Carolina beat N.C. State this past weekend, 45-34, scoring 35 points in the opening quarter and then playing the rest of the game in cruise control. Tailback Elijah Hood rolled for 220 yards and a couple of scores to give UNC an 8-0 ACC regular season record. All in all, UNC gained 374 yards on the ground and 553 yards in total. This is a solid team on both sides of the ball, thanks to the addition of former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik as the team’s defensive coordinator, as the squad gives up 20% fewer yards (395 vs 498) this season each game. Quarterback Marquise Williams (2,601 yards, 18 touchdowns, 8 interceptions; 786 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns) and Hood (1,280 yards, 16 touchdowns, 6.7 yards per attempt) have made this offense a machine.
Clemson had more difficulty in their last regular season game, barely holding off South Carolina 37-32. Their offense put three fumbles on the turf, and their defense was positively porous. Luckily, quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 279 yards and added 114 more on the ground, scoring four total touchdowns. However, they permitted 402 yards to the Gamecocks, who had 11 plays that went for at least 15 yards. The Tigers have 500 or more yards of offense in eight straight games, and Watson (3,223 yards, 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 756 rushing yards, 9 rushing ouchdowns) is a solid Heisman candidate.
The Tar Heels are 20-8 against the spread in their last 28 contests after picking up over 450 total yards the week before. In their last five ACC games, they are 4-1 against the spread. Clemson is 4-0 against the spread in their last four games. They are 3-10 against the spread in their last 13 conference games. After a loss against the spread, they are 3-9 against the spread in their last 12 games.
It’s difficult to be the frontrunner all year, having each week’s performance picked apart. I look for Clemson to reassert itself as the dominant team in the ACC in this game, as Watson will take this team to yet another level. A defense which may have overlooked the Gamecocks will not make those same mistakes in the ACC title game. I like Clemson to win and cover. A 64-point over-under line is fairly high, but I don’t see a 42-28 game or the like out of question here, so I would take the over.