Meineke Car Care Bowl
Clemson vs. South Florida
Betting Line: Clemson -5.5 o/u 40.5
The Clemson Tigers regressed to 6-6 this year after almost making a BCS appearaNCe in 2009. They ended the season with a 29-7 loss to in state rival South Carolina and QB Kyle Parker was beNChed as he threw a third INT and exchanged heated words with HC Dabo Swinney. Parker, also a baseball player, turned down $800k from the Colorado Rockies to play his senior year. He is expected to get the start in this Game. Clemson will meet a team in transition. That team is the South Florida Bulls. They are in their first year under HC Skip Holtz. They own a slightly better record at 7-5 and they enter this Game after taking down in state rival Miami in their penultimate Game.
The line has opened with the Tigers as a 4 point favorite. It has moved in their favor and they are currently 5.5 point favorites with 62% of the action compared to 38% for the Bulls. Offensive production has been similar for these schools as Clemson averages 23.8 PPG and USF picks up 23.5 PPG. Both teams know how to play defense. USF is allowing only 19.5 PPG and Clemson is even better at 17.8 PPG. Clemson is 5-6 ATS compared to 4-7 for the Bulls.
Sophomore Kyle Parker leads the Clemson offense at QB. His stats aren’t overwhelming, but he is extremely athletic. He has had bad Games like a 0 TD, 3 INT performances against Miami (FL). He has good Games like a 2 TD, 220 yard effort against Auburn and 2 TD 194 yards against Wake Forest. He is young and still learning. The USF defense has been solid, but Parker has had success against better defenses this year. RBs Andre Ellington and Jamie Harper will be pivotal for the offense. Ellington is coming back after an injury, but has 10 TDs this year despite missing 4 Games. Harper has scored 6 times this year, 3 of those scores coming in the last 4 Games.
The Clemson defense is going to give USF all they want and then some. DT Da’Quan Bowers is projected to go in the top 10 picks in the NFL Draft. The junior has 16 sacks, 144 tackles, a forced fumble, and an INT this year. As a whole this defense is killer against the run, but may be sUSCeptible to some big passing plays.
Any motivational edges here would likely favor South Florida. While both teams had higher hopes for their seasons, there’s no question Clemson’s were higher. More than a few experts had Clemson pegged as competing for the ACC Title and even a National Championship.
Any time a team like South Florida gets to take on a traditional football power like Clemson there’s an added built in emotional edge. It wasn’t that long ago that South Florida didn’t even have a football team. 1997 to be exact, and they didn’t play a Division 1-A Game until 2001. They have come a long way in a short time. No doubt Skip Holtz will use that angle to motivate his team. His old man certainly would have.
The numbers also point towards South Florida here. Based on each teams body of work this season, there’s nothing to suggest anything but a close Game. South Florida came up short to West Virginia earlier in the year and lost to the Gators 38-14 (Game was 7-7 at the half) but those were the only two teams to put a significant margin between them and the Bulls.
Likewise, Clemson hasn’t put up many large margins between themselves and their opponents. Not counting the first two cupcake Games of the season, they were only able to extend big margins over Wake Forest and Maryland. We look at their Games against North Carolina (16-21), Boston College (10-16), NC ST (14-13) and Florida State (13-16) and see this one playing out along those lines.
Yards per point numbers show us South Florida with a 1 point edge offensively but Clemson with a 2 point edge defensively. Our Score Prediction model shows Clemson winning a close one, 18-16. With that in mind, we’re willing to take any points available with South Florida in a Game they can certainly win straight up. Currently there are mostly all +5.5’s out there, so we’ll go ahead and release this play at +5.5. However, monitor the line. Wait and see if you can get +6. There’s not much harm in getting +5 instead of +5.5, but getting +5.5 instead of +6 could be huge. We’ll be playing the Game Ourselves at +6.
Also note – As of this writing South Florida QB BJ Daniels is listed as probable. He sat out half of the Miami Game and all of the UCONN Game. We assume he’ll play in this Game, but keep an eye out.
3* Key Release South Florida +5.5