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Clemson Now Favored By 2 Points Against Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl

Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Young
Chase Young and the Ohio State Buckeyes are underdogs against the Clemson Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl, but is the smart money on the "Under"? Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire
  • #3 Clemson and #2 Ohio State face off in the Fiesta Bowl December 28th in Glendale, Arizona
  • The Tigers won the previous meeting 31-0 in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl
  • The two teams rank 1st and 2nd in defensive efficiency, points per game allowed and yards per game allowed

The Fiesta Bowl opened as a pick’em and the line quickly moved in favor of Clemson. The Tigers are currently sitting as two-point favorites over the Big 10 champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

Clemson vs Ohio State Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total at Bovada
#3 Clemson Tigers -2 (-115) -120 O 63.5 (-110)
#2 Ohio State Buckeyes +2 (-105) EVEN U 63.5 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 12

The line appears to have settled since the early movement – it hasn’t moved since last Sunday when the committee announced the matchup. You can comfortably bet now without worrying a major line shift is coming. The total, however, that’s a bet you should consider making before it moves south of where it is now. Why? The case is convincing.

Fiesta Bowl Features Top Two Defenses in College Football

Pick a defensive stat and you’re sure to find Clemson and Ohio State ranked at the top. Overall efficiency? Clemson ranks 1st and Ohio State is 2nd. Points per game? The Tigers are 1st and the Buckeyes are tied for 2nd. Yards per game? You guessed it, Clemson tops college football and the Buckeyes are a close 2nd.

The one argument against these numbers is Clemson’s schedule. It’s true, there wasn’t much substance to their undefeated season but it still takes an elite unit to allow less than 11 points per game. The same criticism can’t be made about Ohio State, they racked up wins against ranked opponents all season and never allowed more than 21 points per game.

In fact, only two teams in all of college football went the entire regular season without allowing more than 20 points – Ohio State and Clemson. The Buckeyes allowed 21 in the first half of the Big 10 championship game and responded by shutting out #8 Wisconsin in the second half.

Historical Trends Favor the Under

In addition to the fact neither defense has given up more than three touchdowns this year there are two other major trends to consider. The first, this is Clemson’s fifth-straight trip to the College Football Playoff. In the previous four semifinal games they’ve played, the “Under” is 4-0. One of those was their shutout victory over the Buckeyes in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

For all of their offensive firepower, the “Under” in Buckeyes’ games is also the most likely play when they square off with ranked opponents. In their last six matchups with ranked teams, the “Under” is 5-1. The offense may get more publicity but the defense led by Heisman Trophy candidate defensive end Chase Young and potential top 5 pick cornerback Jeff Okudah, is probably the more elite unit.

Expect Total to Move By Kick-Off

The 2020 National Championship odds are proof this should be a tight match up and I agree, as the line doesn’t appear to have much movement left. 57-[ercent of public money is on Clemson and the oddsmakers adjusted making the Tigers slim favorites.

Most times it’s wise to wait until kick-off to bet the “Under” (public money loves Overs) but in this case with the mountain of evidence suggesting these defenses should play well, I’d consider betting “Under” 63 before sharp money comes in and causes a potentially sizable adjustment.

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