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Miami Hurricanes vs. Clemson Tigers Point Spread - Pick

Miami Hurricanes (10-1 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Clemson Tigers (11-1 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)
ACC Championship Game
Date/Time: Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper,

Point Spread: MIA +9.5/CLEM -9.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5

The Miami Hurricanes face the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 ACC Title Game on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Clemson's goal is simple enough—win and get into the CFP. On Saturday, they took care of business with a statement-making 34-10 win over South Carolina. For Miami, their scenario was complicated last week by their own doing. Miami just needed to beat a 4-7 Pittsburgh team and they couldn't do it, beaten 24-14 to suffer their first loss of the season in most untimely fashion. Still, with one loss, a win over Clemson could conceivably get them back into the CFP hunt, depending on how a bunch of different things shake out. Either way, this is a high-stakes matchup for the ACC title. In a muddled CFP mess, it's hard to pinpoint exactly where everyone stands, but suffice to say, this is the biggest game of the season for each team.

Granted, Pittsburgh has been a good spoiler as of late, also spoiling Penn State's CFP chances last season. But it was a bad misstep for a Miami team that has less margin-for-error than other teams hovering around CFP contention. A win over Virginia Tech and to a greater extent the Notre Dame win put them in at number-two in the CFP rankings before the Pittsburgh loss, but the loss detracts from the few high-quality wins they had this season. Still, while they may be crestfallen emotionally after the upset loss, they have a chance to re-enter the discussion this week.

Pittsburgh used a freshman QB with little experience to topple the Miami defense, while the Pitt "D" held Miami to a scant 232 yards of offense and 4-for-15 on third downs. Miami didn't undermine themselves with a bunch of turnovers or penalties, as they were simply outplayed. QB Malik Rosier threw for two touchdowns, with common targets Braxton Berrios and Ahmmon Richards (questionable) hauling in scoring grabs, but he was otherwise inefficient on 15-for-34 passing. He didn't run the ball well and was under a lot of pressure from the Panthers' pass-rush. The run game was held to very little, with Travis Homer basically silent on the day with 12 yards. Of all the teams in the running for the College Football Playoff, the Miami offense is perhaps the weakest and we saw bad signs against Pittsburgh. With a lot on the line, they couldn't will anything good to happen and at the top-reaches of the sport, that can be very costly.

Giving up 24 points on the road to Pittsburgh doesn't qualify as a bad performance for Miami, but a national contender is supposed to find the right answers and not let freshman quarterbacks who are running a so-so offense to go over their season-average in scoring to win. They didn't really make any big plays on the day. They didn't get to the freshman quarterback. It was 24-7 late with Miami adding a late TD. But the game progressively got worse for Miami and neither side of the ball was able to respond. Against a Clemson offense that can do damage, the 'Canes' "D" will need to be a lot better this week.


Clemson has now strung together five consecutive wins since their upset 3-point loss to Syracuse. They've been in fine form lately, covering the spread in each of the last three weeks and scoring a combined 164 points in their last four games. Against a good 8-3 South Carolina team, they quickly took control, carrying a 34-0 lead into the 4th quarter, before the Gamecocks added ten late points. In the last three games, the Tigers have allowed a combined 27 points. They have managed to peak at precisely the right time. They have good balance and reliability on both sides of the ball. Again, they are squarely in the CFP mix and a win this week gets them in, unless the world has gone mad.

Clemson's offense has been getting a nice boost from QB Kelly Bryant. It was hard for some to imagine Clemson's offense maintaining as well as they have after Deshaun Watson departed. Bryant is like a working man's Watson, a blossoming dual-threat quarterback who lacks the firepower of his predecessor, but should get more credit for keeping the Clemson program near the top of the pile this season. On the ground, they get a big assist from Bryant with his ten touchdowns, along with freshman Travis Etienne (questionable)who has run for 720 yards and 12 touchdowns. This part of their repertoire offers a lot of variety, with Adam Choice, Tavien Feaster, and CJ Fuller having chipped in with 14 combined touchdowns on the ground. Through the air, experienced receivers with big game know-how like Ray Ray McCloud, Deon Cain, and Hunter Renfrow continue to produce, along with rising young talent like 6'4" Tee Higgins.

The Clemson defense has been tremendous in 2017 and a big reason why they have kept their edge this season. Against Syracuse, North Carolina, and Louisville, they were mortal in allowing a combined 79 points, which isn't really that bad. In all of their other games, they are giving up an average of just 9 points a game. Miami's offense fits in well with the groups that have dome decently against the Clemson "D" this season, but not based on how they played last week. On Saturday, Ryan Carter returned a pick for a TD, while Trayvon Mullen also had an interception. Clelin Ferrell had a sack and was very active, along with line running-mate Austin Bryant. At linebacker, Kendall Joseph and Dorian O'Daniel are difference-makers. They look to close out their league play with a bang this week.

This is a game where due caution should be exercised. Sure, Miami hit a wall and when it happened isn't a great testament to their overall wherewithal. It's unclear in the big picture, however, that it's much worse than Clemson losing to Syracuse. Miami's loss is fresher in people's minds and certainly more untimely. But the idea of an exposed Miami team facing a hot Clemson team could be overstated. At the same time, Clemson looks to be the class in this matchup. I see them creating some separation and getting the double-digit win in this title game.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Clemson Tigers minus 9.5 points. Bet the Miami vs. Clemson 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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