It all comes down to Virginia and Clemson for the ACC Championship game on Saturday. Clemson looks to remain undefeated and put a stamp on their College Football Playoff invitation, while Virginia looks to end on a high note with only 3 losses so far on the year. The Tigers are ranked 3rd in the current AP poll, with the Cavs sitting at 23rd.
Virginia is making its first appearance in the ACC title game, while Clemson will be making its 7th appearance in the big game. Clemson is 5-1 in its previous attempts at the crown, and has won 4 straight titles heading into Saturday. The Tigers are favored by (-28) headed into the weekend, with an over/under set at (55.5).
The First Timers
Virginia hasn’t made any kind of ACC postseason since 1995, the year they beat Bobby Bowden’s 29-0 Florida State team. They’re the only team in the Coastal division of the ACC to never have been ranked number 1 in the nation. Bronco Mendenhall looks to change that now in his fourth year at Virginia, and finally bring home the title.
This Virginia team can get after a quarterback, they rank 8th in the nation in sacks per game, averaging 3.3 per contest. If you’re going to run the ball against them, you’ve also got to keep an eye on the 7 in the box, as they rank 29th in opponent rushing yards per game, giving up just over 130. Watch for Jordan Mack and Noah Taylor to get after the quarterback in this one, and force bad throws and losses.
The reigning ACC champs likely aren’t worried about much headed into the weekend. They’ve been one of the top teams in the country all season and for much of the past 5 seasons. They look to make it 5 straight Championships, as they have thoroughly dominated this conference. Dabo Swinney has been a monstrous coach for the Tigers, he’s 128-30 overall, with 2 National Championships, 8 ACC Atlantic titles, and 5 ACC outright titles.
Clemson’s defense leads the nation in opponents points per game, they allow an average of 9.7. They’ve only allowed an insane 5.3 in their last 3 games. Even when their offense, which ranks 4th in the nation in points per game, isn’t clicking on all cylinders, their defense makes it tough to run or pass. They lead the nation in opponent passing yards per game, and are ranked 9th in rushing yards allowed. The total package.
Keeping it Going
Offensively, the Cavs will need to play the game of their lives to stay in this one. Their pass rushers must get after the quarterback, while not allowing Travis Etienne to run it down their throats. Etienne has run it down everyone’s throat this season, so they better strap in for Saturday. Unless the spread is over 20 points, the pick here is one of the top teams in the nation. MyBookie has Clemson favored by (28) in the game. The Tigers win again and cover the spread easily