Pitt at Clemson
Time: 7 PM CT
Spread: CLEM -28
Odds c/o Bovada
The No. 2 ranked Clemson Tigers will look to put the caps on an undefeated regular season as it hosts Pittsburgh in the ACC title game. Clemson is 12-0 and Pittsburgh is 7-5 overall with a 6-2 mark in ACC play. NCAA oddsmakers do not envision this being particularly close, as Pitt claimed the Coastal Division with its 6-2 conference mark. Clemson is 28-point favorites in the ACC Title game, which has an over/under set at 53 points according to college football oddsmakers at Bovada. The game will air at 7 PM CT on ABC.
Clemson mostly steamrolled through its schedule this season, with only one close game (a 28-26 victory over Texas A&M) in Week 2. The Tigers defense was outstanding in 2018, limiting opponents to just 14.0 points per game, while the Tigers managed to average 45.7 per game itself. It averages over 538 yards total offense, with 282.8 coming via the pass and 256.3 coming on the ground. The Tigers are a tough team capable of hurting opponents in a multitude of ways given the saturation of talent at its skill positions.
Trevor Lawrence threw for 2,488 yards this season at a 66.2 percent clip with 22 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He rushed 44 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, in addition. But carrying Clemson has been running back Travis Etienne. He has rushed for 1,307 yards and 19 touchdowns while averaging better than eight yards-per-carry. No. 2 running back Lyn-J Dixon averages 10.2 yards per carry but he has seen less than one-third the attempts that Etienne has with just 52 carries on the season. Adam Choice rounds out the attack with 7.5 yards-per-carry on his 61 attempts while ranking No. 2 on the team in touchdowns with six.
Lawrence airs it out between four main options: Tee Higgins, Justyn Ross, Amari Rodgers, and Hunter Renfrow. Higgins led the team with 766 yards and eight touchdowns, but Ross averaged 19.7 yards per catch on his 32 receptions with six touchdowns, as well. Clemson tallied 42 rushing touchdowns this season, while it went airborne to the end zone 29 times, in comparison. Given the top-three running backs all had high yard-per-carry averages, it is easy to see why the Tigers prefer to put it on the ground when it knocks on the end zone.
Pittsburgh posted the same overall record as the No. 2, 3, and 4 teams in the ACC Coastal, but it won the division by virtue of its 6-2 mark in ACC play. It is hard to argue that the Panthers are much better than the likes of Georgia Tech, Virginia and Miami, and it is a weak representative to challenge a team like Clemson.
Pitt held opponents to 27.8 points per game this year, by all accounts a good mark, but its offense is mediocre, ranking No. 84 in the nation in scoring at 28 points per game. The main culprit for that is a weak pass offense that generates just 153.4 yards per game. Its rush attack is, conversely, lethal. Pittsburgh rushed for 232.7 yards per game this season, using its No. 1 and No. 2 backs, Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall, heavily. Ollison rushed 176 times for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Hall rushed another 123 times for 935 yards and nine touchdowns.
Between that pair, Pittsburgh got 19 of its 28 rushing TDs, with quarterback Kenny Pickett adding another three TDs and 186 yards. Pickett had a reasonable year throwing the ball, but Pitt did not go to it heavily. He was good for a 62.3 percent completion ratio while throwing 12 TD passes and five interceptions, but he threw just 265 passes the entire season. The top two backs carried the ball over 30 times more than that, disregarding the other 180-plus rushing attempts by the Panthers. It is a predictable enough offense that Clemson should have few problems stifling to take home the ACC crown.