College Football Odds & Pick for Clemson vs. Boston College: Bet Tigers to Cover Even Without Lawrence
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: KJ Henry and Tyler Davis.
- Boston College has shown signs of improvement early on in 2020.
- Clemson remains one of the nation’s best teams but will be without QB Trevor Lawrence.
- Matt Wispe explains how to bet this ACC matchup.
Editors Note: At the time of writing, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis was not yet public. The author has provided a qualifying update to the closing section of this article in order to address Lawrence’s impact on Clemson’s odds and his recommended betting position.
Boston College at Clemson Odds
|Boston College Odds||+24.5 [BET NOW]|
|Clemson Odds||-24.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+1120/-3000 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||57.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||12 p.m. ET|
Boston College has been a pleasant surprise this season. The Eagles have won four of their first six games and look a good bet to improve on their six-win 2019 campaign under first-year head coach, Jeff Hafley. The Eagles have shown flashes that something bigger is to come under Hafley, most notably a seven-point improvement on defense.
It’s hard to describe a 26-point win over a Power Five team as a disappointment, but as 46-point favorites, that’s a fair way to describe Clemson’s win over Syracuse. However, because of this perception, there may be additional value backing the Tigers on Saturday.
With Clemson, you’re always battling against large spreads and the concern that starters will be pulled from the game early. That’s why the Tigers are only 2-4 Against the Spread (ATS) this season, but on first-half spreads, they have a 4-2 record.
Boston College Eagles
Overall, Boston College is an improved team from 2019. However, the Eagles are actually averaging two fewer points per game compared to last season. Part of the downtick on offense can be attributed to the departure of offensive coordinator, Mike Bajakian, who helped the team run a play every 22.6 seconds. So far, this team is snapping the ball every 26.8 seconds. But they’ve also improved their overall success rate from 41.8% in 2019 to 42.1% through six games of 2020.
The addition of Phil Jurkovic has been a game-changer. In 2019, the Eagles had a passing success rate of 36.8% and averaged just 176 passing yards per game. This year’s team is passing 53% of the time and has a success of 43.8%. Jurkovic is averaging 7.5 yards per attempt while completing 62.5% of his passes.
Boston College isn’t having the same success on the ground. As a team, the Eagles are averaging just 99.2 rushing yards per game on 3.0 yards per carry. They have a rushing success rate of 39.6% and are stuffed on 20.6% of attempts.
The issue appears to be an offensive line which is generating only 2.49 line yards per attempt and is allowing havoc on 19% of plays, which includes an average of 7.33 tackles for a loss per game.
Under Jeff Hafley, Boston College has improved its scoring defense to 25 points per game. But for all of the improvements, the Eagles are still allowing a 44.3% success rate and 3.5 points per opportunity.
Most notable for this matchup is a weakness against the run. Opposing teams are averaging 166.5 rushing yards per game, 1.8 TDs per game, and 4.5 yards per attempt. The Eagles’ relative strength is against the passing game where they only allow a 41.3% success rate.
What else can you say about the No. 1 team in the country? Clemson is averaging 48.2 points per game with a 47.4% success rate. The offense is averaging 78.7 plays per game at an average of 24.4 seconds per play. On average, the Tigers are scoring 4.698 points per opportunity.
As you’d expect from the likely top overall pick in the NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence has been incredibly productive. He’s averaging 305.5 passing yards per game despite sitting out the second half in multiple contests and he’s completing 70.7% of his pass for an average of 9.6 yards per attempt. The team has a passing success rate of 48.4% and only has three interceptions.
For as good as the passing game has been, Clemson’s rushing attack has been nearly as good. The Tigers have a rushing success rate of 46.2%. The line is generating 3.11 yards per attempt and only has a stuff rate of 14.3%. And the team is among the top-20 in havoc allowed at 13.3%. The Tigers will likely find success against Boston College’s defensive weakness.
Defensively, Clemson is among the best in the country. The Tigers are allowing a success rate of 28.5%, which ranks third-best, and they create havoc on 26.1% of plays, including 2.2 turnovers and 9.5 tackles for loss per game. Their line is allowing 2.296 yards per attempt while stuffing 30.2% of rush attempts. And even if an opponent reaches their 40-yard line, they’re holding opponents to just 2.0 points per opportunity.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The full-game spread for Clemson is a risky play anytime the Tigers are heavily favored. Even coming in with something to prove, a 30.5-point spread will be difficult to cover if the starters are pulled before the fourth quarter.
All signs point to a big win for Clemson against Boston College as Travis Etienne should be poised for big numbers and even against the defense’s strength, Lawrence will have opportunities to score.
And if Clemson’s defense plays as well as it has all season, Boston College will struggle to find any success against the Tigers’ starters. For that reason, the best value in this matchup is in the first-half line.
I’m playing Clemson -17.5 in the first half and would play it up to 20.5.
Pick: Clemson -17.5 1H. Play up to 20.5
Author’s Update: At the time of writing, Trevor Lawrence’s COVID-19 diagnosis was not yet revealed publicly. Nonetheless, Lawrence’s status is not changing my play on this game.
The loss of Lawrence will impact the matchup’s blowout potential; but, Clemson’s defense — paired with Travis Etienne against a weak run defense — is sufficient to warrant a “hold” on the position.
I’m waiting for the point spread to stabilize around 14 or 14.5, but I would still play it up to Clemson -17.