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Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers Odds - Prediction

No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (12-1 SU, 6-7 ATS)
College Football Playstation Fiesta Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Saturday December 31st, 2016. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium Phoenix, A.Z.
TV: ESPN
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: OSU -3/CLEM +3
Over/Under Total: 60.5

In what promises to be one of the most epic College Football Playoff Semifinal games to date, the no. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes and no. 2 Clemson Tigers will collide in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl inside University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday December 31st. Both teams have been amongst the National Championship discussion all season and are now just one win away from having the opportunity to play for the title. This semifinal has all the ingredients to be a tremendous spectacle and it may just be the best game on the entire 2016 bowl slate.

The reasons this game has all the ingredients to be epic is because both teams do so many things well. Both offenses are among the best in college football ranking in the top 15 in scoring averaging over 40 points per game. The only difference is Clemson does most of their damage through the air behind Heisman Trophy Finalist quarterback Deshaun Watson whereas the Buckeyes typically produce most of their big plays on the ground behind quarterback J.T. Barrett and running back Mike Weber. However, both teams have tremendous defenses to offset the opposing offenses. In fact, both defenses rank inside the top 10 overall with Ohio State ranking 5th giving up just 282 yards per game and Clemson ranking 9th allowing just 313 yards per game. Therefore there should never be a dull moment in this game with great matchups on both sides of the football.

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I actually think this game will be one of those where people are on the edge of their seat for the entire 60 minutes. Both offenses have the capability to score on any single play but they also have the defenses that can come up with big opportunities as well. From a betting standpoint, the numbers are also very similar. Ohio State has a 6-6-1 mark ATS with Clemson holding a mirroring 6-7 mark against the number. Both teams have trended down during the latter part of the season with Ohio State going 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games and Clemson covering in just 2 of their last 7 games. The public has favored the Tigers and the points slightly with about 60% of all early action favoring the underdog. Still, even those numbers are pretty equivalent.

I have broken this game down in about every way imaginable and I still cannot find any clear edges. Clemson has some elite talent in their passing game and possibly one of the best receiving corps in the nation led by WR Mike Williams. However, Ohio State ranks 6th against the pass so I do not expect Clemson to find things to come easy down the field but I think they have to challenge down the field to give their talented receivers an opportunity to make big plays. Clemson running back Wayne Gallman is a solid rusher but I don’t believe he is a guy that can take over in this game to open up the rest of the offense. Instead, I think Clemson has to hit plays down the field to open everything else up.

The same challenges will be on Ohio State when they have the ball in their hand only in a slightly different manner. The Buckeyes typically keep the football on the ground between Weber, Barrett, and Curtis Samuel. Ohio State relies on these rushing threats for the offense to strive. However, Clemson has established a great defensive unit especially among the defensive front line where they are extremely athletic and physical. The Tigers actually rank 22nd against the run and they do an even better job of getting pressure on quarterbacks. Therefore it is critical that Ohio State stays out of obvious passing situations to avoid Clemson’s relentless pass rush.

Overall a game like this where the teams are so equally matched may come down to some of the intangibles like penalties, special teams, and especially turnovers. If things stay the course, the turnovers may be an area that benefits the Buckeyes. Ohio State ranked 3rd in the FBS in turnover margin with the help of their 25 takeaways on the season. Watson has specifically struggled with interceptions (15) this year more than anyone would have expected. Clemson has also given 24 turnovers away as a team so keep an eye on the turnover war because it could have a big impact in this outcome.

Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I stand by the fact I think this game features two very equally talented teams with matchups that will be difficult for both teams. However, I still feel like the Buckeyes are the better team. Therefore, I will take Ohio State -3!

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NCAA Football Week 4 Betting Previews

Here are some additional game previews from this week's college football card.

Free Picks

Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!

Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.

Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.

Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.

College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.

Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.

Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.

2017/2018 College Football Predictions - Bob gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2018 National Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8th.

2017 Heisman Trophy Predictions - USC QB Sam Darnold is a heavy pre-season favorite to win college football's most coveted award, but Jay isn't buying it. In fact, he's passing up the top (3) favored players in favor of a QB who he's confident will be NCAA football's best player in 2017.

2017-2018 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the Alabama Crimson Tide running away with the National Championship this season and who can blame them? Roll Tide is LOADED! It never happens that easy though. The USC Trojans (+825), Florida St. Seminoles (+850) and Ohio St. Buckckeyes (+875) all have a legit shot. Oddsmakers have Oklahoma (+1300) on the bubble and everybody looking from the outside in at 20/1 or higher. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!

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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - USC QB Sam Darnold starts the season off as a heavy favorite at +350 odds. Sooners QB Baker Mayfield is second on the list at +700 but can he keep his nose clean? Louisville QB Lamar Jackson should dominate this season but will Louisville be taken seriously? Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman is worth a pop at 60/1 if he gets the carries. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. But will they throw the ball enough with a QB who likes to run? Missing from this year's list of odds is a defensive player.

Odds to Win the 2017 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are heavy favorites to win the National Championship this year at 5/2 followed by Ohio St. at 13/5, USC at 7/1 and FSU at 17/2. Things drop off a bit with the Oklahoma Sooners coming in at 12/1, Auburn Tigers at 14/1 and Michigan Wolverines at 16/1. Check out your favorite school's odds here!

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