No. 4 Clemson Tigers (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS)
College Football ACC Championship Game
Date/Time: Saturday December 3rd, 2016. 8:00PM (EST)
Where: Camping World Stadium Orlando, F.L.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -10/VT +10
Over/Under Total: 58
The no. 4 Clemson Tigers will meet the Virginia Tech Hokies inside Camping World Stadium this Saturday for the 2016 DR. Pepper ACC Championship Game. For the Tigers, there is more at stake than just an ACC Championship which is surely prestigious enough. However, Clemson stands just one win away from earning a repeat bid to the College Football Playoffs as they look to return with some unfinished business after last year’s loss to Alabama in the National Championship Game. Still Clemson will have a worthy opponent in Virginia Tech (9-3 SU) to deal with this Saturday before those possibilities can be made a reality.
Last week Clemson put to bed any indications that they would let this season slip away. After a loss to Pitt in early November, Clemson remained in the playoff hunt with bounce back wins at Wake Forest and then a dominating effort last week in a 56-7 victory over rival South Carolina. In fact, last week’s dominating win over South Carolina was Clemson’s most impressive performance of the season on both sides of the ball. They dominated in every aspect of the game against a bowl bound rival that typically plays them very well. Instead, Clemson proved they are among the nation’s elite with an unstoppable offense and a devastating defensive line.
As good as Clemson played last week, they will need a repeat effort this Saturday against the Hokies. Despite a few hiccups on the season, Virginia Tech has been very solid on both sides of the ball. Currently, Virginia Tech ranks 19th in the FBS in total defense and 17th against the pass yielding just 184 yards per game. I personally think Virginia Tech has a fighting chance in this game because of the talent in their secondary. Clemson WR Mike Williams is one of the most talented and physical receivers in football who has caught 79 passes for 1,114 yards with 10 touchdowns on the season. He has been a complete mismatch for every defender that has lined up across him this season and it will be interesting to see how notable defensive coordinator Bud Foster plans to defend Williams in the passing game.
Clemson still has plenty of additional weapons in the receiving corps and one of the best quarterbacks in the FBS with Deshaun Watson to exploit other potential matchup problems for Virginia Tech. Watson destroyed a fairly good South Carolina defense last week by hitting 27 of 33 passing for 347 yards with 6 touchdowns. Therefore while Virginia Tech has played pretty well against the pass this season giving up just 186 yards per game, this will undoubtedly be their biggest challenge to date against this dangerous Clemson offense.
However let’s not give all the praise to Clemson just after one completely dominate performance. The Tigers have had a few lackluster performances this year on offense and their defense has given up some big point totals as well most notably against Louisville, Florida State, and in the lost to Pitt. Luckily Virginia Tech has a quarterback in Jerod Evans that could potentially give Clemson troubles as seen in some of those previous games. Evans is an elusive quarterback that can do it all. He has thrown for 3,045 yards this season with 26 scores and just 5 picks while also leading the team in rushing with 713 yards and another 8 touchdowns on the ground.
Possibly more importantly is the fact that receivers Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips are the receiving threats that are needed to possibly exploit Clemson’s defense. Clemson has typically dominated against more traditional offenses that either have pocket quarterbacks or rely heavier on running the football. The reason for that is that Clemson’s defensive line is great at getting in the backfield. However, I do think Evans is the type of quarterback that can make plays with his legs in the running game when the pocket collapses but also buy extra team to allow his receivers to get open. If he can do those two things well, Virginia Tech will compete.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Interestingly line here with Virginia Tech only 10 point underdogs. I think the matchup plays better for Virginia Tech than most expect and that is simply because the Hokies should score some points. I still like Clemson to cover the spread and also like a play on the over as well. Good luck!
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