Two undefeated teams will enter this one — but only one will emerge when the No. 2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes take on the No. 3 ranked Clemson Tigers Saturday. The winner of this game will move on to the national championship, and most experts are predicting a close game, with the Tigers favored by 2 points.
When these two teams met in the CFP championship in 2016, Clemson won in dominant fashion 31-0. Who will come out on top this time around? Here’s a preview of the game followed by betting trends and my prediction.
Ohio State Buckeyes Preview
The Buckeyes have picked up right where they left off in head coach Ryan Day’s first season after the departure of Urban Meyer. Led on offense by quarterback Justin Fields, Ohio State has been both dangerous and efficient, with Fields throwing 40 touchdowns and just one interception on the season, which is tops in the nation. The Buckeyes also lead the nation in scoring, averaging 48.7 points per contest. They also rank 5th in the country in total offense (531 ypg) — behind the Tigers, who rank 3rd (547.7 ypg).
Ohio State is led on defense by Heisman finalist Chase Young, whose 16.5 sacks lead the nation. The Buckeyes are allowing 12.5 points a game — just behind the Tigers yet again. Clemson boasts the best defense in the country, giving up just 10.6 points per contest.
Clemson Tigers Preview
Quarterback Trevor Lawrence has 3,172 yards, 34 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season. He should get a good deal of help in this one from running back Travis Etienne, who has 1,500 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns on the season. They lead a Clemson offense that is putting up 46.5 points a game.
On defense, the Tigers have been extremely difficult to score against. Clemson is giving up just 244.7 total yards a game, which leads the nation. Isaiah Simmons leads the team with seven sacks, and he could put a little pressure on Fields. Look for this game to be dominated by defense early, with both teams putting up points in the second half.
Game Info, Betting Trends & Prediction
Location: State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona
Time: Saturday, December 28th at 8 PM Eastern
*NOTE: All numbers and trends listed below are courtesy of Odds Shark:
Spread: Clemson Tigers -2
Over/Under: 63 points
Odds Shark have the Tigers winning the game by a projected score of 44-41, with Clemson covering the spread and the total score going over 63 points. Some trends surrounding this game to consider:
- Clemson is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games.
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Clemson’s last 6 games.
- Clemson is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games.
- The Tigers are 13-0 SU in their last 13 games this season.
- The Buckeyes are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games.
- OSU is 10-0 SU in their last 10 games.
- Ohio State is 13-0 SU in their last 13 games this season.
- The Buckeyes are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games against an opponent in the Atlantic Coast conference.
The Tigers are the reigning national champions, and they won’t be easy to knock off. Experts are divided as to who will come out on top, but I’m going to go against Odds Shark here. The Buckeyes are the best team in the nation when it comes to converting on third down, and they should be looking for payback after getting blanked in the 2016 championship. Their effectiveness on third down could be the difference in this game. I agree that the total score will go OVER — but I think Fields outplays Lawrence and gets enough to pull off an upset.
Final Prediction: Ohio State 44, Clemson 41 (OSU +2)