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Clemson Tigers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Point Spread - Pick

Clemson Tigers (13-0 SU, 10-3 ATS) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (13-0 SU, 9-4 ATS)
Playstation Fiesta Bowl – College Football Playoff Semifinal
Date/Time: Saturday, December 28, 2019 at 8PM EST
Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CLEM -2.5/OSU +2.5
Over/Under Total: 63.5

The Clemson Tigers take on the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl, which also doubles as the CFP Semifinal. It's a great matchup. In other seasons, this would be the title game, a showdown between two unbeaten teams who have both been powerful all season long. With a combined 19-7 record against the spread, they've both been solid betting choices this season. In their last game on December 7, Clemson won the ACC title with a rousing win over Virginia, 62-17. And in their last game, the Buckeyes beat Wisconsin, 34-21, also on December 7. Who will have the upper hand in this one?

Both teams are pretty scary when you break it all down. Clemson is the fourth highest scoring team in the nation at 46.5 points a game. As if that weren't frightening enough, their defense has allowed the fewest points in the nation at a paltry 10.6 points a game. It's even scarier when you see their point-totals swelling even more over the second-half of the season. A 24-10 win over Texas A&M and 21-20 struggle over North Carolina were their only games that were even halfway competitive this season, with a string of blowouts over the weeks.

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Then you look at the other sideline and you see a lot of the same stuff. Ohio State is the top-scoring team in the country with a ridiculous 48.7 points a game. And like Clemson, there is no falloff on defense, with the Buckeyes ranked 2nd nationally against the pass and 6th against the run, allowing a scant 12.5 points per game. The blowouts that you normally see against substandard opponents early in the season continued right on through their Big Ten Conference schedule, as one quality opponent after the next went down hard to the Buckeyes. The closest games of their season were toward the end of the season, with a 28-17 win over Penn State and a conference title win over Wisconsin, 34-21. For the most part, it's been a dominant display from this squad in 2019.

With Clemson winning the College Football Playoff two of the last three seasons. it makes one wonder how much strength of schedule matters. Time and again, they've shown their firepower translates at the highest levels. But against another team doing similar things in Ohio State, it's only fair to look at the contexts in which each team was able to thrive. And let's face it, Ohio State beating Wisconsin twice, along with Penn State and Michigan, surpasses the quality of any win Clemson scored in the regular season.

Trevor Lawrence had a great year behind center for the Tigers, throwing 34 TDs and running in 7 more. The run-game is vital with Lawrence, along with backs Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon. All told, they average 6.5 yards per run. A lot of guys get involved in the aerial attack, with Tee Higgins and Justyn Ross being Lawrence's top targets. Coming off a stretch where they scored at least 52 points in five of their last six games, it's a scary group.

The top-ranked defense in the country, Clemson has a lot of horses on all levels of this unit. They allow the fewest aerial yards of any team, with not a lot of drop-off in the run-stop category. The pass-rush comes from a lot of different sources. And the secondary makes a lot of plays. Some of these guys will be playing on Sundays one day. But let's face it, it is quite a quantum leap beating up on ACC offenses and now facing the only offense in the country that can match the firepower of their own offense.

One could say the Ohio State offense has thrived at higher levels this season. It was also impressive to see them overcome a rough beginning over a tough and hard-playing Wisconsin team in the Big Ten title game, catching up after an early deficit and putting the Badgers away in style. Ever-improving quarterback Justin Fields has been excellent and his 40 touchdowns against one lone pick tells a lot of the story. With 22 touchdowns, running back JK Dobbins has been electric on the ground. Fields works with a cabaret of dependable targets, led by Chris Olave, KJ Hill, and Binjimen Victor. It will definitely be the toughest offense Clemson has seen all season, though the same can be said for both teams.

This Ohio State defense is very good, one of the better Big Ten defenses seen in a number of years. Chase Young leads a robust Buckeyes' pass-rush and is a difference-maker at defensive end, simply a very disruptive force. Unfortunately for Clemson, he's not the only NFL prospect prowling the field. Their secondary is tip-top and not many offenses have thrived even moderately against the Buckeyes through the air this season. Which of these sterling defenses is more-poised to deliver in this context? I think it's fair to say the Buckeyes are the more-tested group.

There is a lot to like on both sides of this equation, so much that it's almost hard to take exception with a stance on either squad. Ohio State being more tested helps. I think their top-ranked red-zone defense will play a role in this spot where there isn't a ton to separate the teams, both of whom will be moving up and down the field. Ohio State's defense really thrives in a pinch, with them also being the top-ranked third down "D." They're also tremendous on third down on the other side of the ball. Combined with having a great running offense, a lot of things point to Ohio State being able to control this game in stretches. Only so much can be sure when taking a stance over a machine like Clemson, but I like the Buckeyes getting points in this spot.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Ohio State Buckeyes plus 2.5 points. Bet this game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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