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The Clemson Tigers’ unbeaten season takes them into today’s ACC Championship game vs. Virginia.
Having won 27-consecutive starts since 2018’s opening kickoff, defending FBS national champion Clemson holds a chip-on-shoulder mentality. That drive stems from being ranked behind LSU and Ohio State though having completed another spotless regular season. The Tigers own college football’s stingiest defense while maintaining an extra offensive gear behind quarterback Trevor Lawrence and backfield mate Travis Etienne.
Each had repeat standout years leading the Tigers to an 8-0 conference mark. Clemson dominated the ACC scoring 370 points and allowing 84.
ACC Coastal winner Virginia arrives at this weekend’s championship tilt 9-3, but sporting +28.5 underdog odds. As of Monday’s opening lines, the Cavaliers face the greatest statistical challenge among all major conference title game participants. After dropping meetings vs. Notre Dame, Miami and Louisville, the Cavaliers finished 4-0 to earn a chance to unseat Clemson.
The Cavaliers’ signature 2019 moment came last weekend as they defeated in-State rival Virginia Tech 39-30. Virginia’s win total has increased each year since head coach Bronco Mendenhall’s 2016 hiring. That upward mobility faces a steep challenge Saturday evening.
Virginia football steadily risingSporting their first nine-win season since 2007, the Cavaliers enter Saturday with a loose, yet focused mentality. The high of freshly snapping Virginia Tech’s 15-year in-state-rivalry winning run has given these Cavaliers confidence in spades. Last weekend senior quarterback Bryce Perkins offered perhaps his finest outing when most needed. Perkins finished with 475 yards total offense and three scores to push UV past the Hokies 39-30. With the win, Virginia clinched its first ACC Coastal championship and a chance to vie for its first Atlantic Coast crown since 1995.
Following some tough setbacks this year, the Cavaliers found their stride as the season climaxed. At 5-3 on Nov. 2, facing a crossroads, Virginia began its most productive offensive stretch averaging 41.2 ppg while earning ACC Coastal honors. The program also secured its third straight year of bowl eligibility following 2016’s 2-10 disaster. The climb has been steady, but Saturday’s upset opportunity is well deserved for this competitive Cavaliers group.
Overall, Virginia averaged 33.7 ppg and allowed 23.5 ppg this season -both top-45 FBS.
Clemson in rare form since week five as postseason beginsAfter routing Alabama in last season’s FBS championship, Clemson lost several impact performers. Those losses, and the rise of other programs, saw Clemson’s ranking suffer following a near monumental week five slip vs. unheralded North Carolina. The Tar Heels finished 2018 2-9, and it took everything that day for the Tigers to survive 21-20 in ACC battle. Since, however, Dabo Sweeney has rallied his FBS-tested troops as the Tigers have routinely hammered their competition to headline Saturday’s matchup by -28.5 points. Post UNC, Clemson’s smallest margin of victory is 35 points during a purposed 7-0 finish.
It can be noted the Tigers’ schedule strength is a far cry from that of LSU, or even Ohio State. But there’s something to be said for how dominant Clemson has been through the year’s second half. Overall, the Tigers average 45.2 ppg and allow an FBS-best 10.1 ppg. With skilled, experienced positional talent and unforgiving defense Clemson is primed for another deep playoff push. The Tigers look for a fifth-straight ACC championship this weekend.
- Clemson is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
- Clemson is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
- Clemson is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Virginia
Trends courtesy of Odds Shark
- Virginia is 4-5 ATS in their last nine.
- Virginia is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing Clemson
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
This is an interesting line choice when pitting Clemson’s 35-point average victory margin vs. a quality Virginia group. The Cavaliers’ late-season run is well documented, as is the two-way effectiveness of Bryce Perkins. However, craving a statement win opposite nationally-ranked opposition, Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse will shadow Perkins all night as the balanced, explosive Clemson offense seals the cover. At 8-2 ATS in their last ten and 4-0 ATS in their last four games in December, Clemson routinely beats big spreads. Take the Clemson cover today.
Full-Game Total Pick
With each team enjoying offensive revivals, I’ll take the Over 55.5 today. Expect Lawrence to spread the ball to his fleet receivers as Etienne gets whatever he wants on the ground. Sparked by their potent quarterback/running back duo, the Tigers will push the 50-point mark themselves Saturday vs. Virginia. Meanwhile, still riding momentum, the Cavaliers will add a few of their own touchdowns to help the total Over. Clemson averages 541.8 ypg. Virginia averages 390.3. These trends from Odds Shark support the Over: The total has gone OVER in 5 of Virginia's last 6 games.