Tennessee vs Clemson – Orange Bowl Pick – 12-30

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Orange Bowl Pick - Tennessee vs. Clemson
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#6 Tennessee Volunteers (10-2) vs. #7 Clemson Tigers (11-2)

In an SEC vs. ACC matchup in the Orange Bowl Tennessee faces Clemson with both teams without key players due to the NFL Draft and the transfer portal. While the Tigers are the lower ranked team in the CFP poll, they are the betting favorite in this bowl game posted at -5.5 with a total of 63.5.

The public has really backed Clemson in the Orange Bowl, as they opened as a 4-point favorite and as of December 27 are a 5.5-point favorite.

On the season Tennessee is 9-3 ATS with an O/U record of 7-5 and Clemson is 7-6 ATS with an O/U record of 7-6.

The Orange Bowl is being held at the neutral site of the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Milton Gets the Call

With star QB Hendon Hooker out for the season with a knee injury former Michigan QB Joe Milton will get the start under center for the Volunteers. While he passed for 720 yards with seven TD and no picks this season, he did not pass for over 147 yards in any game this season.

Biletnikoff Award winning WR Jalin Hyatt will not play to get ready for the draft but the Vols still have Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton, who are both taller receivers at 6’3” and combined for 1,105 yards and seven TD this season.

While Tennessee ranked third in the nation in passing yards per game, they also ran the ball well ranking 20th in rushing yards per game. Jaylen Wright (786 yards 10 TD) rushed for 160 yards in the season finale and Jabari Small (696 yards 12 TD) combined to rush for 159 yards in the last two games.

The Vols will be facing a Clemson defense that ranks 65th in the nation defending the pass and eighth defending the run. The Tennessee offensive line has a tall task facing a front-line Clemson defense that has a few future NFL players.

Klubnik Looks to Repeat Performance

With Starting Tigers’ QB DJ Uiagalelei off to Oregon State freshman Cade Klubnik will make his second career start and he hopes to repeat his first one. That first start came facing a ranked North Carolina team in the ACC title game and he was 20-24 for 279 yards with a TD and no INT in a 39-10 win.

Lead RB Will Shipley (1,110 yards 15 TD) played well this season and looks to bounce back from a sub-par ACC title game where he only rushed for 18 yards. He may have to step up more, as Uiagalelei was the second leading rusher with 545 yards.

Clemson has a deep WR corps with four players with at least 373 rushing yards led by Antonio Williams (563 yards 4 TD).

The Tigers need to be ready for a solid Vols pass rush that has 27 sacks and if they can protect Klubnik he will face a Tennessee pass defense that 127th out of 131 FBS teams. The strength of the Vols’ D is their run defense, which ranks 21st in the nation.

Betting Trends

Tennessee

  • 4-0 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games
  • 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall
  • Over record of 7-1 in their last 8 non-conference games

Clemson

  • 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games
  • 3-7 ATS in their last 10 vs. SEC
  • 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Bowl games
  • 20-6 ATS in their last 26 neutral site games
  • Under record of 4-0 in their last 4 4 neutral site games

 

Score Predictions from our model

Clemson                   -4.5          27   NEUTRAL 
Tennessee                 64.5          35 full season data
  
Clemson                   -4.5          39   NEUTRAL 
Tennessee                 64.5          31 last 4 games
  
Clemson                   -4.5          29   NEUTRAL 
Tennessee                 64.5          38 last 7 games

Our Pick

Obviously the dynamics of this game changed with both starting QB’s out. The key for Clemson here will be exploiting the weak Tennessee pass defense and putting that squarely on the back of a freshman QB may be a tall task.

At full strength, two of our 3 model predictions favor Tennessee. We think there are still enough pieces to the puzzle in place to warrant a play on the Vols here. They are back to being relevant, something Clemson has been used to over the past decade, and we think the Vols cap off a solid season with a straight up win over Clemson here.

Tennessee +5.5

 

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