Clemson vs Duke Odds, Picks: Early Betting Value on Blue Devils
G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Duke quarterback Riley Leonard.
Clemson vs Duke Odds
Four consecutive days of college football have come and gone, but there’s still one more game left in Week 1. The Duke Blue Devils host the No. 9 Clemson Tigers on Monday night in what could be one of the top quarterback matchups of the weekend.
Sophomore signal-caller Cade Klubnik will start for the Tigers after showing promise in limited action last season, while junior quarterback Riley Leonard returns for the Blue Devils following a breakout campaign in 2022.
In the first year of division-less ACC football, we could be in for a fun matchup tonight in Durham.
So, where does the betting value lie in this conference showdown? Let's dive into the Clemson vs. Duke odds and make a pick in this college football betting preview for Monday, Sept. 4.
Clemson comes into this game with some notable new faces on offense. Enter Klubnik, exit DJ Uiagalelei. Enter Garrett Riley, exit Brandon Streeter.
The Klubnik and Riley combination will ultimately determine if the Tigers can legitimately compete for a national championship or if Clemson's ceiling is another ACC title.
Riley's success in leading TCU to 38.8 points per game en route to an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game is the reason why Dabo Swinney hired him as the offensive coordinator. Now, the pressure is on to get the most out of Klubnik.
One would expect Klubnik, a former five-star recruit, to thrive in Riley's Air Raid-style offense against ACC competition. Still, it might be asking a lot for everything to click in Week 1 on the road against a veteran defensive mind in Duke head coach Mike Elko.
Klubnik will need some help from his playmakers to be successful, and while Will Shipley is a great option out of the backfield, he can only do so much. Clemson's wide receivers need to step up for the team to hit another level offensively in this game — and in general, as no receiver even came close to 1,000 receiving yards last year.
Defensively, the Tigers are once again in good shape. The great linebacker duo of Jeremiah Trotter Jr. and Barrett Carter are back following a great season in which the Tigers ranked 10th in Defensive EPA.
The Blue Devils and their fans will be excited about hosting a top-10 Clemson team in a prime-time matchup, and it doesn't look like they'll be pushovers.
Duke finished 9-4 last season and returns 19 starters. It's rare for a team to return that many key contributors, and none are more important than Leonard at quarterback.
Call him Daniel Jones 2.0, because Leonard is drawing NFL Draft buzz. Leonard did it all for the Blue Devils in 2022 by throwing for 2,967 yards and 20 touchdowns and leading the team in rushing with 699 yards and 13 scores.
He should also benefit from top running back Jordan Waters and leading receiver Jalon Calhoun coming back to Durham.
Leonard and company should have a decent-sized margin of error because of Duke's defense. The Blue Devils gave up just 22.8 points per game last season in Elko's first year, and it should be effective again with eight starters returning.
Granted, they didn't play a team as good as Clemson last season, but Elko should have a solid game plan for the Tigers nonetheless.
Clemson vs. Duke
Betting Pick & Prediction
Clemson enters a 13-point favorite at most sportsbooks, which is an enticing spread for bettors who want to back Duke. The Tigers are unveiling a new offensive scheme with a relatively inexperienced quarterback in a conference road game against a quality team with a future NFL quarterback.
It all adds up to a close game, right?
This game should be tight in spots, but I think reality will set in as it progresses. Clemson has a far more talented roster, and I can see that talent shining through in the second half as the Tigers pull away.
Even though Duke didn't allow many points per game last year, it ranked 62nd in Defensive EPA, and Clemson should be able to take advantage of a good-not-great Blue Devils defense.
That's why I like Duke +7.5 in the first half. Leonard is capable of leading some scoring drives, and Elko's defense should be able to force a few stops against Klubnik and the Tigers offense. But ultimately, I think the talent discrepancy makes this game less competitive in the second half.