College Football Playoffs Betting Picks: #4 Oklahoma Sooners vs #1 Clemson Tigers

2015 College Football Playoff Semifinals
Capital One Orange Bowl
#4 Oklahoma Sooners vs #1 Clemson Tigers
Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, Florida
Thursday, December 31, 2015, 4:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Oklahoma -4 (+100)
Current Line: Oklahoma -3 1/2 (-115)
Opening Total: 65
Current Total: 63 1/2
Opening Money Line: Oklahoma -155 / Clemson +135
Current Money Line: Oklahoma -170 / Clemson +150

Oklahoma is a four point favorite against Clemson in the first semifinal Thursday in Miami.
Oklahoma is a four point favorite against Clemson in the first semifinal Thursday in Miami.

The 2015 College Football Playoff gets underway Thursday afternoon from the Orange Bowl as the #1 Clemson Tigers take on the #4 Oklahoma Sooners. The winner will face either the #2 Alabama Clemson Tide or #3 Michigan State Spartans in the Championship game January 11 from Glendale, Arizona.

The series is tied 2-2 between Clemson and Oklahoma. These two teams played last season in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. The Tigers mauled a disinterested Sooner team 40-6.

Oklahoma went 11-1 in the Big 12 and won the conference title outright with an 8-1 record. The Sooners are 28-19-1 in bowl games, including 12-6 in the Orange Bowl. Oklahoma is making their 16th straight appearance in a bowl under coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners are looking for their 8th national title and first since 2000.

Clemson is 13-0 under coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers won the ACC Atlantic Division with an 8-0 record and defeated North Carolina 45-37 in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte. Clemson is the only undefeated team in FBS. The Tigers are 19-18 all time in bowl games, including 3-2 in the Orange Bowl. Clemson is looking for only their second national title and first since 1981. The Tigers are also playing in a bowl for the 16th straight season, and have won 3 straight bowl games.

The Sooners have home wins over Akron 41-3, Tulsa 52-38, West Virginia 44-24, Texas Tech 63-27, Iowa State 52-16 and TCU 30-29, along with road wins at Tennessee 31-24 in double overtime, Kansas State 55-0, Kansas 62-7, Baylor 44-34 and Oklahoma State 58-23 in the last game of the season. Oklahoma has won seven straight games  since a 24-17 loss against Texas in Dallas.

Oklahoma was a 7.5 point favorite against bedlam rival Oklahoma State and the total was 63. The Cowboys took a 10-7 lead early in the first, but the Sooners scored 27 straight points to take control of the game. Oklahoma would lead 44-20 at halftime and cruise to a 35 point win. Both teams combined for almost 1,000 total yards, but OSU had the only two turnovers of the game. Oklahoma is 9-3 ATS and the total is 8-4 this season.

Clemson has home wins over Wofford 49-10, Appalachian State 41-10, Notre Dame 24-22, Georgia Tech 43-24, Boston College 34-17, Florida State 23-13 and Wake Forest 33-13. The Tigers also have road wins over Louisville 20-17, Miami 58-0, North Carolina State 56-41, Syracuse 37-27, and South Carolina 37-32. Clemson has won 16 straight games dating back to last year.

In the ACC Championship game, Clemson was a 6.5 point favorite against North Carolina and the total was 67.5. The Tigers took a 21-16 lead in halftime. Clemson expanded the lead to 35-16 late in the third. However, the Tar Heels would not go away. UNC pulled to within 45-37 with 1:13 left. The Tar Heels recovered the onside kick but officials called them for a dubious offsides penalty forcing a re-kick. Clemson recovered this time and ran out the clock. The Tigers had over 600 total yards. Clemson is 6-7 ATS and the total is 8-5 this season.

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Oklahoma is outscoring teams 46-21 this season. The Sooners are #2 in scoring and #22 in points allowed nationally. Oklahoma is averaging 543 yards per game on offense including 308 passing and 235 rushing yards. The Sooners are in the top 18 nationally in all three categories. On defense, Oklahoma is allowing 351 total yards per game including 202 passing and 150 rushing yards. Oklahoma is #32 in pass defense and #29 in total defense nationally. The Sooners have forced 26 turnovers but have 16 of their own this season. Oklahoma averages 61 penalty yards and opponents average 53. The Sooners are 83/184 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 89/223. Oklahoma has forced 38 sacks and allowed 36 this season. The Sooners are 58/65 scoring in the red zone with 44 touchdowns, and opponents are 29/37 with 20 touchdowns. Oklahoma has three defensive touchdowns this season.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield has completed 68.6% of his passes for 3,389 yards with 35 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and has rushed for 420 yards with 7 touchdowns on 131 carries. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting. Back-up Trevor Knight has thrown for 305 yards with two touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and has 69 rushing yards with a touchdown.

Running back Samaje Perine has 211 carries for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Joe Mixon has 110 carries for 749 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 25 catches for 345 yards and 4 touchdowns. Both Perine and Mixon are probable with ankle injuries. Alex Ross will also get some carries. Daniel Brooks and Rodney Anderson are both out Thursday.

Receiver Sterling Shepard has 79 catches for 1,201 yards and 11 touchdowns. Dede Westbrook has 42 catches for 674 yards and 4 touchdowns. Durron Neal has 42 catches for 527 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mark Andrews has 17 catches for 286 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jarvis Baxter has 17 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown. Dimitri Flowers has 8 catches for 130 yards and 4 touchdowns.

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Clemson is outscoring teams 39-20 this season. The Tigers are #16 in points allowed and #19 in scoring. Clemson averages 511 yards per game on offense including 289 passing and 222 rushing yards. Clemson is in the top 25 in all three categories. The Tigers have allowed 296 yards per game on defense including 167 passing and 129 rushing yards. The Tigers are #7 or better in total and pass defense and #24 in rush defense Clemson has 25 turnovers and has forced 23 turnovers this season. The Tigers are averaging 48 penalty yards per game and opponents average 56. Clemson is 101/215 on third and fourth down conversions, and opponents are 56/209. Clemson has forced 38 sacks and allowed 14 this season. Clemson is 44/49 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns. Opponents are 29/35 with 20 touchdowns. The Tigers have two pick sixes this season.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson has completed 69.5% of his passes for 3,512 yards with 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 163 carries for 887 yards and 11 touchdowns. He finished third in the Heisman voting. Back-up Nick Schuessler has taken some snaps. He has thrown for 177 yards and an interception. Kelly Bryant has thrown for 27 yards and an interception, and also has 23 carries for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Running back Wayne Gallman has 243 carries for 1,332 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 18 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Zac Brooks has 37 carries for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns. C.J. Fuller and Tyshon Dye will also get some carries.

Receiver Artavis Scott has 84 catches for 805 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury. Deon Cain has 34 catches for 582 yards and 5 touchdowns. He was suspended along with two other players for reportedly failing drug tests.  Charone Peake has 40 catches for 563 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jordan Leggett has 34 catches for 442 yards and 7 touchdowns. Ray-Ray McCloud, Hunter Renfrow, and Germone Hopper will also get some catches. Receiver Mike Williams is out for the season with a neck injury. Kicker Ammon Lakip and little used tight end Jay Jay McCollough were also suspended. Lakip is the kickoff and long field goal specialist for the Tigers.

Oklahoma is 5-0 ATS after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 6-1 after rushing for 200 yards or more, after allowing more than 450 total yards, and overall, 5-1 after a straight up win, and against teams with winning records, 4-1 after scoring more than 40 points, after a cover, and on grass, 8-3 in non-conference games, 2-5 after gaining more than 450 total yards, and 1-5 in neutral site games.

Clemson is 5-0 ATS in neutral site games, 4-0 in December, 6-2 against teams with winning records, 3-7 after gaining more than 450 total yards, 2-5 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 1-4 after a straight up win, and overall, and 0-4 after passing for 280 yards or more.

Both these teams have explosive offenses and very good defenses. Clemson is even better on defense than Oklahoma. Still, the Tigers haven’t seen an offense as powerful as the Sooners this season. I think Oklahoma wins a close shootout.

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