Pitt vs. Clemson Odds & Picks: Can You Trust the Tigers Cover Saturday’s Huge Spread?

Pitt vs. Clemson Odds & Picks: Can You Trust the Tigers Cover Saturday’s Huge Spread? article feature image
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Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence.

  • After a long layoff, the Clemson Tigers will lake on the Pittsburgh Panthers in an ACC matchup.
  • Trevor Lawrence is set to return to the field, and he'll match up against a stout Pitt defense in his first game back.
  • Check out Darin Gardner's betting preview with updated odds below.

Pitt vs. Clemson Odds

Pitt Odds +24 [BET NOW]
Clemson Odds -24 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +1000 / -1751 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 59 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds updated Saturday afternoon and via Parx, which offers new customers a 20% profit boost + $500 risk-free wager on their first bet.

It’s been a pretty quiet week for Clemson football, huh?

If you haven’t been keeping track, Clemson was supposed to play against Florida State last Saturday and was in Tallahassee preparing for the game on Saturday morning.

As it turned out, Clemson flew to Tallahassee with a player who ended up testing positive for COVID-19. Because of that, the medical personnel for both sides couldn’t agree to play the game, so it was canceled just a couple of hours before it was set to kick off. This marked the first same-day cancellation of the season.

Why has this been a talking point for several days straight? Let’s just say Dabo Swinney and FSU coach Mike Norvell have very different opinions on what should have transpired on Saturday and both coaches have made some pretty bold quotes in the past few days.

Clemson has not played a football game since its loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 7. Saturday will mark 21 days since the Tigers last took the field. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has eclipsed the 40-point mark in two straight games and has won those two games by 57 points combined.

Every year, Dabo Swinney plays these types of games with the media as a tactic to keep his team motivated, but will the Tigers be shaking off rust after such a long layoff?

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Pitt Panthers

Offense

Pitt’s season-long offensive metrics look pretty bleak, thanks to a struggling offensive line and a two-game stretch without quarterback Kenny Pickett. On the season, the Panthers rank 100th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play and 84th in Success Rate. However, Pickett has played quite well on the whole and ranks as the 31st-best quarterback this season, per Pro Football Focus.

Pitt’s offensive line has held it back, as the unit currently ranks 110th in Busted Drive Rate, 107th in Havoc allowed, 122nd in Line Yards and 121st in Stuff Rate. When the offensive line is performing this poorly, it is very tough for the running back to find any success. Pitt’s top running back averages only 3.3 yards per carry on the season.


Defense

Pitt has always been known as a defensive team, and this year is no different. The defense has absolutely been the reason the Panthers have been able to stay afloat with a struggling offense.

Pitt currently ranks 13th in Success Rate allowed and 16th in EPA per play on the defensive side. The Panthers have been incredible up front, with three different players that have recorded at least 10 tackles for loss on the year.

The Panthers have been living in opponent backfields all season long. They rank fourth in Havoc rate, fifth in Line Yards, fourth in Stuff Rate, and fourth in Sack Rate. Edge defender Rashad Weaver is PFF’s 10th highest-graded player at the position, and Pitt’s two starting defensive tackles rank in the top-35 nationally in PFF grade.

Clemson’s offensive line has actually struggled in the running game this season, so it will be interesting to see if the Panthers are up to the tall task of containing Travis Etienne.

Clemson Tigers

Offense

Clemson will play its first game in three weeks, and the layoff is even longer for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He missed two games due to testing positive for COVID-19 and has not played since Oct. 24. Saturday will be his first game back in over a month.

Clemson has to be itching to get its future first overall pick back. Lawrence ranks second in the nation in EPA per play among quarterbacks, and the Tigers’ closest game with Lawrence under center was an 18-point win.

On the season, Clemson ranks 13th nationally in EPA per play and 14th in Success Rate. The offense has not been as balanced as the Tigers would probably like, however.

Clemson’s passing offense ranks eighth in Success Rate on passing plays, but it’s down at 38th in Rushing Success Rate. Etienne obviously isn’t the problem here, so why hasn’t Clemson been able to run the ball at will like in recent years?

Clemson had to replace four offensive linemen this season, and it has shown. While Clemson has been efficient in pass blocking, the run blocking has really fallen off after last year. The Tigers are currently 75th in Line Yards and 59th in Stuff Rate.

The tackles have played well, but none of Clemson’s three interior linemen have a run-blocking grade over 70, per PFF. Pitt’s nasty defensive front could cause problems for the Tigers’ interior line.

Defense

It’s business as usual for the Clemson defense this season. Despite a lot of turnover in that unit, the Tigers rank third in Success Rate Allowed, seventh in First Down Rate Allowed, and 10th in Finishing Drives.

The Tigers are really good up front yet again. They rank eighth in Line Yards, fifth in Stuff Rate, and eighth in Sack Rate. Clemson’s ability to cause disruptions up front is a major reason why it currently ranks third in Havoc.

I have a hard time finding a way for Pitt to consistently move the ball against this Clemson defense. The Tigers have been battling injuries on that side of the ball, but the three-week layoff should have helped.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I don’t see much value on the spread or total from a numbers perspective. I project Clemson as a 24.3-point favorite and have the total at 58.1.

However, there might be a little bit of value on Clemson at 23.5. Betting on narratives is usually a bad idea, but just think about how the coaching staff may approach this game.

Lawrence has fallen behind in the Heisman race, and Clemson has had three weeks to sit and think about the Notre Dame loss. Pitt may be able to bottle up Clemson on the ground, but I don’t see any defense in college football racking up consistent stops against Lawrence’s arm.

Additionally, I think Pitt’s offense is going to have a terrible time trying to keep the chains moving. If you really want to bet this game, I would lean Clemson -23.5. I also think the Pittsburgh team total under 6.5 in the first half is a decent look at +120.

Pick: Lean Clemson -23.5 or better


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