Clemson vs. Ohio State Odds, Pick, Betting Prediction: Can Tigers Cover Spread in College Football Playoff?
Rick Ostenski-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ohio State QB Justin Fields
- The latest Clemson vs. Ohio State odds list the Tigers as a 2.5-point favorite over the Buckeyes in the College Football Playoff semifinal.
- This spread has reached Ohio State +3 a few times on Saturday, but has been knocked back down immediately.
- Get our experts' Ohio State vs. Clemson picks and predictions for the Fiesta Bowl below.
Clemson vs. Ohio State Odds, Pick
- Odds: Clemson -2.5
- Over/Under: 62
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Glendale, Ariz.
Two unbeaten teams. The two best in our power ratings. It doesn’t get much better than this.
No. 3 Clemson is a short favorite over No. 2 Ohio State for Saturday’s College Football Playoff semifinals, with the total at 63.
The Tigers have been on a roll since a close win over North Carolina in late September, covering seven of their last eight games. And none of those point spreads were less than -24.
Ohio State has looked somewhat mortal over the last month, failing to cover against both Penn State and Wisconsin despite winning without much of a sweat.
Who has the edge in the College Football Playoff semifinal? Let’s break it all down.
Odds as of Friday night and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
College Football Playoff Line Movement
The College Football Playoff semifinal line opened as a pick’em, but early money hammered Clemson to -2.5. The line briefly got to Clemson -3 at DraftKings, but that lasted all of three minutes before getting knocked back down to -2.5 and -2.
It now sits at -2 across the market, with 63% of bets and 62% of money on the Tigers.
Latest News: How Healthy Is Justin Fields?
News around the Fiesta Bowl fired up on Christmas Eve, as Justin Fields informed the media of his mobility, saying it was 80 to 85% and “not where I want to be right now.” He injured his knee against Penn State in late November but has played through it.
But those poor metrics are not just on the line — Fields holds onto the ball too long and tries to extend every play. That’s why he doesn’t throw interceptions but gets sacked regularly. — Collin Wilson
How Can Clemson Exploit Fields’ Injury?
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables must now decide if the Fields injury information is accurate and how will it affect the Tigers scheme.
Thanks to the versatility of linebacker Isaiah Simmons, Venables will be able to disguise a number of blitz packages. Expect defensive linemen, linebackers and safeties to rotate pressure in an attempt to confuse Fields and keep him on the move.
The Buckeyes will lean on J.K. Dobbins and the play-action pass to avoid negative plays. Ohio State averages less than a point per drive when highlighted with more than one negative play. Clemson is fourth in defensive havoc, and top 10 in tackles for loss.
Expect Simmons to be dialed in to Dobbins in reading run or pass plays from the Buckeyes offense. Ohio State will score on big passing plays, as the Buckeyes are 16th in rush rate and will get Clemson safeties to bite on a properly executed play-action from Fields. — Collin Wilson
How Will Clemson Deal With Chase Young?
When this semifinal was first announced my immediate thought was ‘Give me all the Trevor Lawrence rushing props’. Lawrence had 5 rushing touchdowns through the first six games of the season, ending with 407 total rushing yards on the season.
There is no doubt that Clemson will implement a double team on Ohio State star defensive end Chase Young, adding a tight end chip block much like what Michigan and Wisconsin used to limit the defensive end.
Young was held without a sack in his final two games, laying down the template for Clemson to stop the Bednarik Award winner.
Per SportsSource Analytics, Clemson has the best offensive line efficiency metric in the nation and averages just a sack per game. Most sacks against Clemson have come from the edge and catching Lawrence in time before stepping up in the pocket.
Because of the pressure from the edge, expect Trevor Lawrence to have one of his biggest days rushing the ball from stepping up in the pocket or running the RPO. Two statistics indicate Clemson is in line for a big offensive day.
Travis Etienne is the top running back in the country in total yards after contact, going against a defense that is declining in missed tackles. Per SportsSource Analytics, the Buckeyes had missed tackles just 6% of the time until their final three games.
Against the toughest part of their schedule against the best athletes, Ohio State’s missed tackle rate rose above 20% against Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The Clemson stable of receivers will have to deal with plenty of size and athleticism in the Ohio State secondary, but the rushing attack of the Tigers will be the primary driver to offensive points.
Ultimately, the game may be decided by the mobility of the two quarterbacks and their ability to escape pressure.
Justin Fields is sure to have downfield success when reading the Clemson defense correctly, but limitations in escaping the pocket will force negative plays.
Trevor Lawrence not only has the best pocket awareness in college football, but has not thrown an interception since Oct. 19.
Clemson will move on to New Orleans to compete for another national championship. — Collin Wilson
- Game Pick: Clemson ML -130 or better
- Prop: Trevor Lawrence over rushing yards
- Prop: Justin Fields over longest passing play
- Prop: Chase Young Sacks under
Miller: Fields’ Status Has Me Betting Under
There are very knowledgeable people that I respect who like the over in this game, but I’m looking in the opposite direction. When the total first came out, I was a bit surprised to see it where it was, but I understand that both offenses have been elite in 2019.
I just feel that the defenses have been even better.
There are very few areas of the field where one of these teams has an advantage over the other, but there’s a big issue with Ohio States’ ability to protect Justin Fields, as Collin covered.
Clemson isn’t the team you want to play when that’s a concern because it ranks second in the nation in that category on defense. Other than that, you’re looking at one of the most evenly matchup games I’ve ever seen in my time handicapping college football.
The biggest area of concern for Ohio State is the health of Fields, who needs to be healthy if the Buckeyes want to have a chance. His running ability is paramount in getting JK Dobbins going on the ground.
I make Ohio State a small favorite in this game, but we truly don’t know the ceiling of Clemson yet. The Tigers haven’t been challenged all season, especially after they hit their stride in November.
I’m leery to back the Buckeyes because I don’t know what Fields we’re getting. I’m going to side with the under because I think it’s a bit too high and we’ll see more domination than expected from the two best defenses in the country. — Kyle Miller
Pick: Under 62.5