Ohio State-Clemson Live Betting Strategy for College Football Playoff

Ohio State-Clemson Live Betting Strategy for College Football Playoff article feature image

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Justin Fields

Saturday’s College Football Playoff games will provide us with plenty of opportunities to add to our pregame positions, or take new stances based on how the games are playing out.

Just look at last year’s Oklahoma-Alabama game. The Tide raced out to a big lead, but Kyler Murray and the Sooners continued to knock at the back door with late scores, and eventually covered the two-touchdown spread despite not having much chance to win.

Here’s how I’m looking to live bet Saturday’s games. You can follow me on Twitter or in the Action Network app to see live bets, too.

Clemson-Ohio State

This game will be competitive throughout, so this should be a great chance to trade back and forth as far as the side is concerned in the live markets, grabbing both teams as an underdog.

I made the line Clemson -1, so I don’t see any value on the side before the game — unless this creeps up to +3 or more on Ohio State.

There are things that are difficult to read about both teams. They are each elite with as much talent on their rosters as any team in the nation.

However, determining just how elite Clemson is relative to last year is not an easy task with how easy its schedule has been. So much of the power rating is based on last season after essentially strolling through a schedule as four to five touchdown favorites in almost every game. (And it’s not like the ACC looked spectacular so far this bowl season).

There are no weaknesses no matter where you look (outside of special teams, where Ohio State will have a decided edge). But this will be the Tigers’ toughest task of the year.

Ohio State has two primary weaknesses if you look at the advanced metrics: sack rate allowed and rush explosiveness allowed. The Buckeyes grade out elite in almost every other category except those two where they rank extremely poorly.

And Clemson certainly has the personnel to take advantage, ranking in the top 3 nationally in both categories.

In regards to the secondary, it was a huge problem last year but has been stellar so far this season. And while I love the talent on the back end, the Buckeyes defense hasn’t necessarily faced a gauntlet of aerial attacks in its Big Ten schedule. The best quarterback they faced was arguably Jack Coan at Wisconsin, so maybe there are more holes there than what the numbers indicate.

Those are some of the reasons that make this game difficult to cap, especially the total. The pace numbers can even be misleading since both teams were involved in so many second half blowouts throughout the season. Trevor Lawrence was pulled in the third quarter multiple times throughout the season.

But based on my numbers, I make this total 59, offering a small amount of value on the under, which I played small.

I do think the game script will call for both teams to feature a heavy dose of both star backs. I also think each pass rush can cause some havoc, particularly in passing situations to kill a few drives.

That’s especially the case when Ohio State has the ball. Justin Fields tends to hold the ball way too long (especially in comparison to Trevor Lawrence) and that spells doom against this Clemson defense that can get after the quarterback as well as any team in FBS.

That could kill a few Ohio State drives and/or put them behind the sticks more often than it is used to. And when Ohio State does have to punt, the Buckeyes do have one of the best punters in the country in Drew Chrisman, who can flip the field, which is an under bettor’s best friend.

However, it’s not a bet I love with all of the unknowns I just mentioned. Plus, with so much firepower on both sides, I expect flurries of points at times, so we could easily get a live under at a much better number.


I made the line LSU -10, so there is small value on Oklahoma at +13 and especially +14, which I played small when it popped earlier in the month. However, with Ronnie Perkins suspended and the improvement on the LSU defense over the past month of the season, I could be underestimating this Tigers team, which has certainly proven itself against elite competition all season.

Regardless, these are still two of the most efficient offenses in college football and there should be plenty of points from both sides. That makes it a very intriguing live betting game and we could get a better number on Oklahoma, north of +21, which has the offensive firepower to come back from any deficit and certainly get in the backdoor late if down 17-20 points.

Keep your eyes on CeeDee Lamb. The LSU defense has been susceptible to big plays in the passing game even if they have improved in that department of late with a presumably much healthier Grant Delpit, and Lamb can exploit that.

In regards to the total, I made it 69, but want no part of the under, especially with some of the injuries in both backfields. My numbers are based on Oklahoma being a much slower, run-heavy team than in years past.

However, the game scripts and need to play catch up might call for a more pass heavy and faster paced attack. Plus, considering how offensive this game might be, you could see both offenses become much more aggressive than usual on fourth down situations.

If we get a slow start, I may look for a live over if the opportunity presents itself.

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