Clemson opens as nearly a touchdown favorite against Miami in the ACC Championship. According to OddsShark, the Tigers are favored by 6.5 points against the Hurricanes. Miami and Clemson square off in the ACC Championship on Saturday, December 2nd in Charlotte at 8 p.m. Eastern on ABC. The final College Football Playoff rankings and bowl matchups will be released the following day on December 3rd.
The Hurricanes are coming off their first loss of the season, after Pitt pulled off the upset on Black Friday. Miami is 10-1 straight up this season, but just 5-6 against the spread. Clemson is 11-1 straight up, while going 6-4-1 against the spread.
Clemson has wins over Auburn, Virginia Tech and NC State this season. The Tigers only defeat came in a narrow loss to Syracuse, a game where the Tigers played without quarterback Kelly Bryant for a good portion of the contest. Clemson’s offense has transitioned smoothly from Deshaun Watson thanks to Bryant’s play. Bryant has thrown for 2,154 yards, 10 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. Bryant has also rushed for 613 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Miami has wins over Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Florida State as the Hurricanes rattled off 10 straight wins prior to their loss to Pitt. Despite the surprising loss, Miami coach Mark Richt noted in his post-game comments to ESPN there is no panic in Miami.
I think there’s an awful lot to play for yet. We have no idea what’s going to happen, even in the big picture. How many teams have lost on a Friday and come back and got back in the top four? How many teams have lost one game and won a conference championship and got right back in it?
Who knows? We don’t know, and we have to keep our hopes up in those regards. But the bottom line is, Miami’s never won an ACC championship. Miami’s never played in the game, and we’re about to do that.
The Hurricanes have relied on their defense (and Turnover Chain) to reach the ACC title game. Miami’s defense ranks 15th this season allowing just 18.8 points per game. The Turnover Chain may seem like a gimmick, but Miami’s defense leads the country in turnovers with 2.7 takeaways per game.
Clemson’s defense is also one of the best units in the country as the Tigers rank fifth in points allowing their opponents to score just 15 points a game. The Tigers have a top 25 rushing attack as Clemson averages 222 rushing yards a game. Travis Etienne has been lethal inside the red zone, setting a Clemson freshman record with 12 rushing touchdowns. Miami has struggled to run the ball since losing star running back Mark Walton early in the season. While each offense has its strong suit, neither team ranks among the top teams in total yards, instead relying on their defense to continue to win games.
To amplify the importance of the title game, the ACC winner is likely headed to the College Football Playoff, while the losing team will find it difficult to advance as one of the final four teams.