Ohio State +3 -120 buy ½. 4.5% play
There are many +2.5 at +100 out there and this may jump to 3 at some point today.
Nobody is a bigger fan of Clemson than me. I bet them each of the last 3 times in the National Championship against Alabama covering the spread in all 3. However, this Ohio State team is a better team than what Clemson faced last year in the college football playoff. Ohio State is a complete team, and I think the wrong team is favored here. Ohio State opponent YPP differentiation +.43, compared to -.43 for Clemson. Ohio State’s offense which ranks 5th has faced an average YPP defense ranking 36th. Clemson is 4th, but has faced an average defense ranking 77th. Ohio State played Wisconsin twice, Michigan, and Penn State, all better than any opponent Clemson has faced. The ACC is extremely weak they went 5-8 ATS vs. P5 opponents in the regular season with a -9.5 ATS margin, and this bowl season they are 1-3 ATS. Clemson is in another class of their own, but along the way there have been some red flags.
The turnovers early in the season were concerning for the QB, and he cleaned those up by not facing a single top 50 ypp defense over the last 6 games. The Clemson defense, which replaced a ton of talent from last year’s squad hasn’t missed a beat, but they did give up 23 first downs to a bad Virginia offense in the ACC Championship game. They also let Louisville and Charlotte run for over 150 yards. Ohio State easily the best offense that they will face, and I think Clemson’s run defense which ranks 8th, but against a 76.25 average run offense could have some issues against Fields and Dobbins. The last red flag is special teams. Clemson ranks 90th in special teams efficiency and that came against an average opponent STE ranking 77.8. Compare that with Ohio State who ranks 6th, against an average opponent STE of 38.6.
Ohio State on paper just seems to be the better team, but 66% of the money is on Clemson, and all the talking heads agree, and are now backing a hot Clemson team that has experience in this playoff, but I don’t think that’s worth a ton here as Ohio State has played in several big games this year beating many top 15 teams by double digits along the way. Justin Fields has looked like the best QB in the country at times, and is probably the best QB Ohio State has ever had. He’s not the one dimensional inaccurate QB that they typically have that a defense can shut down.
Ohio State even has significant edges on third down. 57% conversions against an average opponent 3rd down defense ranking 36.6. Compare that with Clemson who comes in at 47.3 against an average defense ranking 40.11% Ohio State’s offense has done significantly better on third downs against significantly better competition. Defensively it is the same story. Ohio State has held opponents to 28.65% compared to Clemson 30.6%, but Ohio State has faced 3rd down offenses that convert 41.34% on average, while Clemson has faced offenses converting 38.53% of the time.
I also lean with the over here - but I think the total is pretty high and I expect a more conservative start to the game, and will likely bet it live by getting a better number.
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