Clemson Tigers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Date and Time: Saturday, September 30, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, VA
Opening College Football Odds: Clemson -6
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech TV Coverage: ABC
It’s hard to really disrespect what Clemson has done this year. Dabo Swinney lost basically his whole offense from a season ago when the team won the National Championship, and he’s still got a team that is 4-0 and hasn’t even really remotely been tested yet. Sure, the 14-6 win over Auburn was an ugly game, but there was never a point in the second half that you really thought the SEC was going to score a big upset in Death Valley.
There were some predictably slow moments against Boston College last week, but the 34-7 victory was a product of a lot of great play in the second half on the defensive side of the ball before the offense finally stepped in and performed at a high level.
This really has been the formula all season long for the Tigers. They’ve simply worn teams down with their physical defense, and the offense has ultimately come around at some point, some games faster than others. Now, Clemson has two wins in the ACC Atlantic Division and a victory over an SEC West squad. It’s not Alabama at this point, but aside from that, there aren’t a lot of teams that are Clemson either.
We’re about to see what Virginia Tech is made of. All of the pomp and circumstance is about set to come to Blacksburg with College GameDay for the first time since 2007. The Hokies have a shot to get into the College Football Playoff discussion for sure, and with only one game left in which they’ll be underdogs (at Miami on November 4) before the presumptive ACC Championship Game rematch against these Tigers, an upset would make these dreams believable.
The real question is whether Josh Jackson is ready for this moment or not. The Hokies haven’t played against a legitimate Top 25 team yet this season; West Virginia was ranked at the time in Week 1, but no one really believes that it’s one of the 25 best teams in America. This is easily the toughest test of the season for a young quarterback against one of the best defenses in the land.
The one thing no one has really been able to do against Clemson is establish a traditional running game. Jackson is going to get his on the ground just as Lamar Jackson ultimately did for Louisville. But in order to beat Clemson, you’ve got to be able to pound the rock between the tackles with some big, bruising running backs.
Virginia Tech doesn’t have a bona fide No. 1 tailback at this point. Travor McMillan, Deshawn McClease, Steven Peoples, Coleman Fox and A.J. Bush all have at least 97 rushing yards in four games. All but Bush have found the end zone at least once. That said, none of them have more than 36 carries for the season, and none have even 200 rushing yards in four games. Somebody is going to have to step up to keep this one interesting.
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Free Picks
We’re just not sure that Virginia Tech is ready for this moment. The Hokies aren’t being given a lot of respect from the oddsmakers at any of the top online sportsbooks, but we think that’s all justifiable. Clemson is a touchdown shy of being 4-0 ATS, and last week’s ATS loss to Boston College was easy to see from a mile away after the big win at Louisville.
Kelly Bryant has turned into one of the more pleasant surprises in the nation this year, and we know that he can ball out against great defensive teams like Virginia Tech.
We just go back and look at that schedule the Hokies have faced and wonder if Old Dominion, Delaware and East Carolina have really prepared them for Clemson. We’re guessing that it hasn’t.
College Football ATS Pick: Clemson -6 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Clemson 40, Virginia Tech 20