Third-ranked Clemson’s goal of making it to the College Football Playoff for a second consecutive year is within reach if it can take care of No. 18 Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game in Orlando, Fla on Saturday. The Tigers are trying to win back-to-back ACC titles for the first time since 1987-88, while the Hokies are looking for their first conference crown since 2010 and first 10-win season since 2011.
The Tigers have had a singular focus since a 45-40 loss to Alabama in last year’s national championship game and, despite a 43-42 setback against Pittsburgh three weeks ago, they’ve put themselves in position to earn another shot. “These guys have embraced that target all year long, and they’ve found ways to win,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. “And now as we get into this run here, we’re playing our best football, and that’s what we need to be doing. This is the best team I’ve had since I’ve been here.” First-year coach Justin Fuente quickly has revived Virginia Tech following back-to-back 7-6 seasons. Three of the Hokies’ last four wins have been by three points, but they’re coming off a 52-10 rout of rival Virginia on Saturday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Tigers opened the week as 9.5-point favourites and that line was quickly dropped half-point before rebounding and being bumped up to 10. The total opened at 58 and jumped to 59, before fading to 58.5 late in the week. Check out the complete history here.
WEATHER REPORT: The forecast for Camping World Stadium is calling for partly sunny skies, winds out of the north east ranging from 5-10 mph and temperatures in the mid 70’s.
Clemson – CB Adrian Baker (questionable, knee), OT Jake Fruhmorgen (questionable, shoulder), OL John Simpson (questionable, leg), DE Richard Yeargin (questionable, knee)
Virginia Tech – DB Greg Stroman (questionable, ankle)
ABOUT CLEMSON (11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS, 6-6 O/U): Star quarterback Deshaun Watson got off to a somewhat sluggish start this season but has returned to form recently and threw six touchdown passes against South Carolina, including three to Mike Williams. Running back Wayne Gallman also has come to life of late, racking up 273 yards and three scores over the last two games after failing to reach the 100-yard plateau in his previous four contests. The Tigers’ strong defense thrives on getting into the backfield, ranking second nationally in tackles for loss (8.7) and fourth in sacks (3.5).
ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS, 7-5 O/U): The Hokies’ resurgence has been built on a hard-nosed defense, much like the Virginia Tech teams that enjoyed success under long-time coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies are especially tough against the pass and have produced 17 takeaways in their nine wins. The offense is fueled by junior-college transfer quarterback Jerod Evans, who quietly has put up Heisman-like numbers, completing 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,045 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 713 yards and eight TDs on the ground.
* Tigers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 neutral site games.
* Hokies are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games.
* Over is 4-0 in Tigers last 4 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 4-0-1 in Hokies last 5 neutral site games.
* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public is backing the Tigers in the ACC title game, with 53 percent of the wagers. As for the total, 65 percent of Covers users like the Over. View full Covers Consensus here.