The big Games are finally here with the College Football Playoff between Clemson and Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. The ACC continues to get no respect on a national scale and that’s evident by the spread in this Game. The Sooners are currently a -3.5 in most places, including at Betonline Sportsbook.
Oklahoma put it all together this year, which seemed like a long time coming. The surprising thing about the Sooners is that their lone loss was to Texas. They didn’t overwhelm teams in non-Conference Games, letting Tennessee and Tulsa stick around, but that wasn’t the case in most Big 12 Games. OUtside of that Texas loss, they didn’t really have problems with anyone else. Baylor kept things close, but that was still a 10-point win and while OU only beat TCU by one point, that was after the Horned Frogs scored 16 straight points in the Fourth quarter. Road blowouts at Kansas State (55-0) and Oklahoma State (58-23) put them over the edge and in the Top 4.
Clemson didn’t lose a Game all year, but had a couple closer Games than Oklahoma. The Tigers struggled at Louisville early in the season and then even let South Carolina stay around in a 37-32 win late in the year. Of course, they also beat Notre Dame and Florida State, leading the entire way in those Games. Most recently, the Tigers took down a solid North Carolina team in the ACC title Game. Big road wins aren’t as prevalent for Clemson and that could come back to bite them in the playoff, although a 58-0 win at Miami can’t be overlooked.
Both of these teams have good defenses, but it’s safe to say that the offenses will dominate this Game. If it turns out to be a defensive slugfest, that would surprise everyone. The over has hit in six of Oklahoma’s last seven Games as well as seven of Clemson’s last night. Their defenses may be good, but have often given up points to better offenses.
Clemson has a Top 5 pass defense in yards allowed per Game, but it’s hard to see that stopping Baker Mayfield and company. Although in the high-scoring Big 12, the Sooners haven’t really seen a defense like this all year.
Mayfield, a Texas Tech transfer, has been huge for Bob Stoops. He finished the regular season with 35 TDs and just 5 INTs, while completing 68.6% of his passes. On top of that, Mayfield also has some mobility, which led to seven rushing touchdowns. He and Sterling Shepard (79 receptions, 1,201 yards, 11 TDs) gained some rapport later in the season and that combo has been dominant. Oklahoma’s running Game has also been a huge help with Samaje Perine (1,291 yards, 15 TDs) scoring in seven straight Games and Joe Mixon (1,094 total yards, 11 TDs) providing a nice spark as a backup.
This offense was stopped one time all year and that was against Texas, when the Sooners couldn’t move the ball on the ground. It’s hard to see that happening here, though.
Clemson’s offense hasn’t been as explosive this year, but this is still a group that can Scorewith the best of teams. Quarterback Deshaun Watson was unstoppable at times completing 69.5% of his passes for 30 TDs and 11 INTs, but also running for 887 yards and 11 more touchdowns. No one could handle the duo of Watson and running back Wayne Gallman (1,332 yards, 10 TDs) in the backfield. Artavis SCott was Watson’s favorite target, but Watson spread the ball plenty and Four different receivers had at least Four touchdowns.
Oklahoma’s defense stepped up when it needed to, but they also got to play backup quarterbacks at Baylor and TCU. Because of that, Watson and crew will likely be the Sooners toughest defensive task of the season. Then again, stopping offenses from Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to below 30 points was impressive.
The Tigers are 5-0 ATS in their last five neutral-site Games, and that includes last year’s 40-6 bowl win over the Sooners. This will obviously be a much different Game as Trevor Knight and Cole Stoudt were the starting quarterbacks in that Game.
Our Pick – ALL of the numbers we like to use point towards an Oklahoma win by anywhere from a TD to 20 points. Add in the rare opportunity to attain revenge for what was a HUMILIATING 40-6 Bowl Game loss a year ago, and all the ingredients are there for a big Sooner win. Oklahoma -3.5