8:00 PM EST
Ohio State +3 over Clemson (5u)
There is a ton of love in the market for Clemson and deservingly so. This is a team who covered four straight games and seven of their last eight, 18 of their last 21, is the defending National Champion and is led by a QB who has never lost a game in his collegiate career and led by a coach who is 9-1 ATS in the post season. On the flip side you have Ohio State who was a covering machine early in the season but the Buckeyes early season betting bandwagon has faded. They have been a major disappointment to bettors lately, Ohio State didn’t cover against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship Game and they’ve failed to cover in three of their last four games.
There is definitely a lot to like about Clemson and we bet them a lot this season to great success and they are without a doubt a top 3 team in the nation. However, the Big 10 was a lot better than the ACC this year and that matters, even with the top program from each conference facing off against each other tonight. It is very true that you can only play who is on your schedule but that doesn’t change the fact that Clemson hasn’t been tested this year. Their best win probably came in early September against a five loss Texas A&M squad. Their win over Virginia in the ACC Championship was impressive, but UVA was in a total flat spot after coming off the biggest win of their season against their hated instate rival Virginia Tech. The only adversity Clemson faced all season was their scare against a 6-6 UNC team, a game they barely won as three touchdown favorite. How will Clemson respond if they get punched in the mouth here against an opponent who is just as talented as they are? I’m not convinced they’ll respond well, even with Dabo Swinney’s impressive bowl track record in recent seasons. Now Ohio State was punched in the mouth by Wisconsin the last time they played and punched back in a serious way, which shows you the grit this team has facing adversity against quality opposition. The four games Ohio State played against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin were tougher than any game that Clemson played all year.
Ohio State is my number one power rated team in the nation and I have them as a five point favorite in this game. The argument against Clemson playing a cupcake schedule is, “well they have crushed everyone they have played”, however it is THE Ohio State who has the higher scoring margin despite playing the much tougher schedule. This game is lined in the 60’s but I see it being far more of a defensive battle than that. Both teams are great at stopping the run and that favors Ohio State because of their defensive backfield. The Buckeyes are loaded with NFL talent in the secondary while the back end of Clemson’s defense is their weakness. Trevor Lawrence has been unreal in his last six games completing 76% of his passes with 20 TD’s and 0 INT’s but he is up against by the far the best defense he has ever faced in his career tonight. He was careless with the ball earlier in the year and if he turns the ball over tonight the Tigers are in big trouble. They key to this game is going to be Ohio State’s pass rush — if they can get after Lawrence and pressure him and force him into mistakes and turnovers, OSU will win this game by a comfortable margin. If he has time to throw to his talented receivers, Clemson is more suited to win a shootout. I know it’s totally different players and coaching staff, but Ohio State as a football program is 15-2 ATS as an underdog dating back to 2009 and have won 7 straight in the underdog role. This is going to be a serious heavy weight fight that most likely comes down to the wire but I’ll take my shot with the team who is more battle tested, is the better team, has the best defensive player in the nation as underdogs here to win this game outright! Take Ohio State
Note: Depending on your book, the line will be 2.5 or 3. It is +3 at Draft Kings where I bet it. OSU will win outright but buy the hook if you have to just to be safe!