In the first of two playoff matchups scheduled for New Year’s Eve the No. 1 ranged Clemson Tigers (13-0) will take on the No. 4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners (11-1) in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 EST at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida and will be televised on ESPN. Taking a look at our NCAAF bowl odds, Oklahoma is currently listed as a 4-point favorite with the total set at 65 points.
The Sooners won the Big 12 regular season title outright with a 8-1 record inside conference play. Oklahoma clinched the conference in impressive fashion, as they closed out the season with wins over at No. 6 Baylor (44-34) at home against No. 18 TCU (30-29) and at Oklahoma State (58-23). The Sooners only loss came back on Oct. 10 when they got upset by rival Texas 17-24 as a 16-point favorite.
Clemson capped off a perfect 12-0 regular season with a 37-32 win on the road against in-state rival South Carolina. Marking the first time the Tigers finished 12-0 since winning the 1981 national championship. Clemson improved to 13-0 and secured their spot in the playoffs with a 45-37 win over North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game.
It just so happens that these two teams faced off against each other in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, which Clemson won 40-6 as a 5-point underdog.
Early Lean on Oklahoma -4
Say what you want about the loss to Texas, the Sooners were arguably the most impressive team in the country down the stretch. Since that loss to the Longhorns, Oklahoma has won 7 straight games and outgained all 7 opponents in the process. This team reminds me a lot of Ohio State from last year, who had the ugly loss early to Virginia Tech and the proceeded to catch fire and went into the playoffs playing their best football.
One thing that really stands out to me is how Oklahoma was able to go on the road and win in hostile environments. They had an early 31-24 win at Tennessee, who ended the year ranked No. 23 in the country. They also had blowout wins on the road late at Baylor by 10-points and at Oklahoma State by 35 in the deciding game for the Big 12 title.
While Clemson had impressive wins during the regular season over Notre Dame and Florida State, both of those wins came at home. The Tigers didn’t exactly dominate either of those games. In fact, they were outplayed by Notre Dame, who had a 432 to 296 edge in total yards, but were done in by 4 turnovers. They also were tied with the Seminoles at 13-13 going into the 4th quarter. It’s also worth noting that Clemson had several close calls on the road. They only beat Louisville 20-17, NC State by 15, Syracuse by 10, South Carolina by 5 and North Carolina by 8.
Explosive offensive teams that are averaging 34 or more points/game at least 8 games into the season, who are coming off a win by 35 or more points and going against a strong defensive team that are allowing 16-21 points/game are 39-11 (78%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.
For it comes down the fact that I think Oklahoma is going to have a much easier time moving the football in this matchup. The Sooners finished the season with the 7th ranked offense in the country at 542.9 ypg and were well balanced. Oklahoma ranked 16th in rushing (235.0 ypg) and 18th in passing (307.9 ypg). It’s without question the best offense the Tigers have faced since they faced Notre Dame.
While Clemson has a high-powered offense of their own, they Sooners aren’t going to be the least bit intimidated by the Tigers offense, as they have faced a number of explosive offenses this season in the Big 12. As good as Deshaun Watson has been, I just feel he’s going to have to have the game of his life just for Clemson to keep this one respectable. I think you have to side with the Sooners at the current price.
Adding to all of this is a strong system in play on the Sooners. Explosive offensive teams that are averaging 34 or more points/game at least 8 games into the season, who are coming off a win by 35 or more points and going against a strong defensive team that are allowing 16-21 points/game are 39-11 (78%) ATS over the last 10 seasons.