No. 1 Clemson Tigers (12-0 SU, 5-7 ATS) vs. No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-1 SU, 8-4 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday December 5th, 8:00PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium Charlotte, N.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -6/UNC +6
Over/Under Total: 68
Championship weekend will conclude this Saturday night with a heavily anticipated matchup between the no. 1 Clemson Tigers and the 8th ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in a battle for the ACC Championship inside Bank of America Stadium. Clemson held off a tough challenge from rival South Carolina last week in a 37-32 victory to seal their first perfect season since their 1981 National Championship campaign. Clemson will have the chance to join the 4 team playoff and compete for another National Championship if they can take care of the Tar Heels this Saturday night in Charlotte.
While Clemson has been in the national spotlight for most of the season, I dont think anyone should overlook North Carolina this week. Since opening the season with a loss to the same South Carolina team that Clemson struggled against last week, the Tar Heels have rallied off 11 straight victories while going a perfect 8-0 in the ACC. The Tar Heels have not been in the national spotlight quite as much as Clemson this year and the argument can be made that they do not have as many quality wins. However, this North Carolina team is plenty capable of going competing with Clemson which is also evident by the 6 point margin point spread.
This Saturday nights ACC Championship will be highlighted by two of the best offenses in the conference. Clemson and North Carolina rank 14th and 16th nationally in total offense which is also 1st and 2nd in the ACC. Clemson poises the fast striking explosive offense while North Carolina has been similarly effective but rather more methodical. The Tigers are led by quarterback Deshaun Watson who was just 1 of 2 unanimous All-ACC selections this past week. Watson has proved to be one of the most valuable quarterbacks in the country and he put on a great performance last week in the victory against South Carolina.
Even with Clemsons defense struggling, Watson put the offense on his back. The star quarterback rushed for 114 yards and 3 touchdowns and was also extremely accurate throwing the football as he hit 20 of 27 passing for 279 yards for another touchdown. Watson has been the playmaker for the Tigers offense all season and so far there have been few answers from defenses in attempt to slow the star down. Collectively, Clemson has a ton of talent with running back Wayne Gallman (1,145yds and 9 touchdowns) and a talented group of receivers. Still, it is Watson that the offenses feeds off of and he will be North Carolinas main target on defense when things kickoff this Saturday night.
For the Tar Heels, they may not have the superstar quality on their offensive side of the football but they have been equally effective as a unit. Quarterback Marquise Williams has been solid throwing the football completing 65% passing with 18 touchdowns and 8 picks. Williams has also rushed for another 786 yards and 10 touchdowns as the 2nd leading rusher on the team. In fact, it is North Carolinas ability to run the football which I think could give Clemson a tough time this Saturday night. The Tigers defense, which was one of the best in the nation a year ago, have not been near as strong as their reputation has indicated.
The Tigers have given up big numbers to rather mediocre offenses in North Carolina State, Syracuse, and South Carolina in recent weeks. If North Carolina is able to run the football with a heavy dosage of Elijah Hood and keep the Clemson defense on their heels, this game may get very interesting. Hood rushed for 220 yards in last weeks victory over North Carolina State and he has totaled 1,280 yards on the season with 16 touchdowns. If North Carolina can get the chains moving on the ground like I expect, it will open up the possibilities to limit Clemsons touches on offense and continue to shed light on Clemson biggest weakness by way of their defense which could be the recipe for an outright upset.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: North Carolina +6
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