When the college football playoff committee released their first set of rankings in week 10 of the season, #1 Clemson Tigers led the way with an undefeated 8-0 record and has since never looked back. Clemson has maintained that top spot and is only one of two teams in the top 25, the other being Iowa, to have a blemish-free 12-0 record (8pm ET, Saturday).
All of that could change Saturday however as Clemson faces one of their toughest challenge all season, coming in the form of the one-loss #8 North Carolina Tar Heels. The two teams, who occupy opposite ends of the ACC spectrum, haven’t faced each other this year.
This will be the second highest ranked team Clemson will come up against after defeating #6 Notre Dame back in early October. For the Tar Heels, who likely no one expected to be in this position, it was an opening day loss to South Carolina that represents the only tally in the loss column. Their toughest challenge came against #23 Pittsburgh.
The main head-to-head to follow in this one is going to be between the two quarterbacks. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (pictured) is a Heisman candidate, in some minds, a frontrunner even. He is just a sophomore but he has veteran poise and pretty solid big game resume to go with it. Watson has tossed for 3,223 yards (21st among all FBS QBs), 27 touchdowns (12th) and a completion percentage of 70.4 (3rd). Clemson’s defense has struggled a bit as of late, but Watson has kept the offense going and because of that, his team has stayed undefeated.
His opponent on Saturday is Marquise Williams, who is no slouch himself. Sure Williams is overshadowed in the ACC by Watson but the redshirt freshman has had comparable success and is the leader of an offense that averages an ACC-best 41.3 points a game and an FBS second-best 7.46 yards per play.
North Carolina is a sure fire threat to Clemson in a game that has huge importance as far as playoff implications go. Clemson wins, they are all but a lock to maintain their top spot in the rankings. Were they to lose, North Carolina has an outside shot to jump into the top four with Clemson possibly falling out all together.
- Betting Pick for Game: Our prediction is to take the Tigers -4.5pts @ best odds of -110 with BetOnline or 5Dimes. Despite their struggles, we expect them to continue finding ways to win.
- Betting Pick for Total Points: As for the total, Clemson will need to put up points to compete with UNC. It should be a shootout, so take the over on the lofty 67.5 points total @ best odds of -110 with either BetOnline or 5Dimes.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.