Miami Hurricanes vs. Clemson Tigers
Date and Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Opening College Football Odds: Clemson -7.5
Miami vs. Clemson TV Coverage: ABC
If we're being honest, the Hurricanes were caught napping last week. Deep down, they probably knew that game against Pittsburgh didn't mean anything. Win or lose, they were probably going to have to beat Clemson one way or the other to get into the playoff, and it's understandable that they came out flat.
Still, there was a lot to not like about that 24-14 loss, namely that the big plays that have come all season long on the defensive side of the ball just weren't there. Sure, the Turnover Chain was handed out twice on fumble recoveries, but the Hurricanes didn't log an interception of a freshman quarterback on 29 attempts in spite of the fact that three of them hit defenders' hands along the way.
Opportunities like that can't slip away against a team like Clemson.
Back when Clemson was beaten on Friday the 13th by Syracuse, many asked the question whether the Tigers could rally from that point to get into the playoff. Not only have they rallied to be on the verge of the CFP for a third straight season, but they are going to be the No. 1 team in America when they take the field on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Clemson had no problems whatsoever with South Carolina, and its resume certainly speaks for itself at this point. This is a team with a big home win over Auburn and road victories over Louisville, Virginia Tech, N.C. State and South Carolina. None of those teams are going to be highly-ranked at the end of the year, but each won at least eight games and are going to be playing in solid bowl games.
Matchup to Watch
The Hurricanes have been so good in their secondary this year, but they are likely going to be up against a team that is going to run it a lot more than it will throw it on Saturday. Even though South Carolina successfully forced Kelly Bryant to throw the ball, that's a decision that it came back to regret in last week's blowout loss in the Palmetto Bowl.
Mark Richt's crew is conceding 153.9 rushing yards per game, and if it can stay around that total, this game is going to be in the win column at the end of the day. But if the same rush defense that couldn't keep Qadree Ollison from running wild in the fourth quarter at Pitt shows up in this game, Tavien Feaster and Travis Etienne are likely to have huge days on the ground.
Miami vs. Clemson Free Picks
There's a good argument to be made for this Miami team, but we don't think it's ready for this stage quite yet. Malik Rosier has had a lot of good games, but this team has been a lot more lucky than good all year long. The Hurricanes have won four games this year by single-digits after going 0-3 in such games last season, and they are going to hope to ride their luck in Charlotte.
But if we're being honest, there is a huge gap between these two teams this year, and it's going to show on Saturday night. The Tigers have the pedigree to survive and advance in this one, just as they have all season long. This is a national quarterfinal in every sense of the word, and there's no way a Dabo Swinney-coached team should be -7.5 in a spot like this one at any of the best internet sportsbooks.
College Football ATS Pick: Clemson -7.5 at BookMaker.eu
College Football Score Prediction: Clemson 41, Miami 20