Clemson at Virginia Tech
Saturday, 5 pm PT - ABC
CRIS Opener: Clemson -5.5 O/U 49
CRIS Current: Clemson -7.5 O/U 51
Third time in four weeks that Clemson will be tested by a top 25 team. Having already having disposed of Auburn and Louisville both in straight up and against the spread fashion, the Tigers enter having played a far more rugged schedule than Virginia Tech. The Hokies have piled up gaudy statistics the past three weeks (outscored opponents 72-0 in 2H) but Delaware (FCS), East Carolina and Old Dominion hardly make VT battle tested. Last week, Tech faced an ODU team led by a 17-year-old true-freshman QB making his first career start. The Monarchs also played without star RB Ray Lawry for the third straight week. Certainly Virginia Tech will be fired up and well prepared for this game but the question is are they ready for the major step up in class. Their season opener at neutral site FedEx Field against West Virginia saw the Hokies hang on by a thread to win 31-24.
The key fundamentals in this matchup are pretty obvious can Virginia Tech’s offense find a way to neutralize the Clemson front four which has been dominant this season and will either of the first year QB’s be able to excel versus these stout defenses. Again. Clemson has already been in these situations so they should have an advantage. Kelly Bryant did not have a great game (19-of-29, 181 yards) against the elite Auburn defense but he didn’t turn the ball over and the offense rode the defense to a win. The following week it was Clemson’s defense that faced the nation’s top dual threat QB in Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and they basically shut him down until the game was decided in the fourth quarter. Hokies’ dual threat QB Josh Jackson has been stellar thus far but Clemson has already defeated the best.
Prime time Saturday night start guarantees an extremely raucous home crowd and frenzied atmosphere but those situations don’t seem to faze Clemson anymore. The obstacle for the Tigers here will be their opponent which is the most complete team they’ve played thus far. Virginia Tech features the offensive balance that Auburn didn’t plus the physicality and strong defense that Louisville didn’t. My power ratings made this game Clemson -7.5 so the current line is airtight which leaves us with the 50.5 total. That is where we’ll find our edge in this one. Look for each of these up-tempo explosive offenses to make enough plays and wear the opposing defenses down enough to score a baseline of 48 points. From there, have to expect the defenses to rattle the young QB’s into anywhere from 1-3 costly mistakes that lead to points. Special teams are also very capable of scoring here so with the very important key number of 51 on our side, the look here will be toward the over.