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PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers College Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions, Odds, Picks and NCAA Football Betting Preview – December 31, 2016

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl – Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Clemson Tigers College Football Playoff Semifinal Predictions, Odds, Picks and NCAA Football Betting Preview – December 31, 2016

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale

When: Saturday, December 31, 7:00 PM ET

Line: Ohio State Buckeyes (-3) vs. Clemson Tigers (+3); total: 59.5 – view all NCAA Football odds and lines

TV Broadcast: ESPN

Writer’s Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide

College Football News and Previews

Betting on the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)

As much as we love the Huskies and Crimson Tide at TopBet, this one will be the game to watch. The Ohio State Buckeyes put forth one great season. They did have a brief stumble against Penn State but they weathered the storm in a tough Big Ten conference. Their biggest win was no doubt their thrilling double overtime topping of the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten final in late November. Other highlights included their 77-10 season opening victory over Bowling Green and their 58-0 routing of Rutgers. Now, with all of that said, they didn’t face anybody quite as dominant as Clemson. Michigan would be the next best thing, but even they had their stumbles.

Containing the air and mobile threat of Heisman runner up Deshaun Watson will be unlike anything they’ve planned for this season. The Buckeyes defense only surrendered 14.2 point per game – 3rd best in the country – but they also gave up 117.8 rushing yards per game – 14th in the nation. So, there are holes in the armor.

The team lost 14 starters in the 2016 NFL Draft and is still #2 in the NCAA – this isn’t a mistake; they deserve to be. One of the biggest reasons for that reputation is junior quarterback J.T. Barrett. The man took the full-time reigns in 2016 and put up sensational numbers. Nearly 2500 yards (2428), 24 touchdowns and just five interceptions. His ability to make quality decisions on the field is why the Buckeyes are where they are. Now, again, the team did struggle a bit against Jim Harbaugh and his khaki pants. Barrett threw one pick, completed less than fifty percent of his passes and only notched 124 yards. His ability to beat Michigan on the ground is what was the deciding factor though. He is now entering this game after posting 125 on the grass against the Wolverines and over 300 yards rushing in his last four games. Clemson needs to find a way to contain Barrett with an adapting zone-blitz read quickly or they could be in trouble.

Betting on the #3 Clemson Tigers (12-1)

Clemson enters the College Football Playoff system for the second time in as many years. They’ll be bitter as well after falling to Alabama 45-40 in last year’s championship game. The Tigers were a team possessed this time around led by a stronger and wiser Deshaun Watson. The junior passed for 190 less yards than in 2015 and ran for 500 plus less yards as well but led a far more composed attack. Another year under his belt, along with his offensive line, bought him more time in the pocket which ultimately led to more touchdowns and better decision making. Watson was a Heisman finalist for the second straight year leading him to his decision to head for the NFL following this college season. The Tigers don’t want their leader leaving without any hardware, so they’ll be on high alert and ready come Saturday night.

Now, looking at the numbers, Clemson didn’t exactly establish themselves as clear cut winners heading into the weekend. Their defense ranked them 12th in the land for points surrendered with an average of 18.4, they were 19th in passing yard average with 188.2 and 22nd in rushing with 125.8. Not exactly title hopeful numbers, and yet, here they are. On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers posted the 7th best average per night at 332.6, while their opponents ranked all the way down the board at 78th in the nation with 221.2 per game. So, needless to say, if Clemson wants to take this game, they’ll have to look for the long ball – something that has been Ohio State’s Achilles heel this season.

Writer’s Prediction: Ohio State gets it done 37-34

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Written by Joel

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