2017 ACC Championship Game Expert Picks: Clemson vs. Miami Predictions
Clemson Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes, Saturday Dec. 2, 8 p.m. ET
The ACC has had a championship game since 2005, and Miami is making just their first appearance. Given where Miami has been at the height of their program, that is a striking fact - especially because eight other ACC programs have played in the game. It changes, though, as Miami is not only in this game but will play in a much bigger one with a win here. As has been a case every year of the playoff, the ACC Championship Game has massive playoff implications. The winner is all but a lock to be in the playoff. And even if Clemson loses they could find their way into the top four as well if a few things break their way - like Oklahoma losing - as long as they keep things close. Miami has to pick themselves up off the mat after a brutal loss last time out, while Clemson is in form. What has happened in the past doesn't matter when it comes down to just one game, though.
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Clemson at Miami Betting Storylines
Has Miami hit the wall? That is the biggest question that has to be asked here. After rolling through their first 10 games and absolutely destroying Notre Dame in that 10th game, they struggled to get past Virginia and then lost a stunner at Pitt. Our biggest challenge here is to figure out what that means. The team had already clinched their berth in this game by the time their season took a turn. Were they just feeling accomplished after the Notre Dame game and looking ahead to this contest? Or have they fallen to earth, shown too many weaknesses to opponents, and find themselves vulnerable? The loss was far from ideal, but ultimately it means very little. They will likely be a lower playoff seed if they win this game than they would be if they were undefeated, and they have no chance of making the playoff with a loss here while they might have if they were unbeaten coming into the game. But ultimately seeding doesn't matter too much heading into the playoffs, so the loss isn't that significant, and Miami couldn't be too badly blamed for the letdown against Pitt - if that is indeed the cause of the bad result. It takes some real amateur psychology to try to get to the bottom of this.
Another factor for concern when it comes to that wall is that a lack of confidence can lead to a lack of energy. That's a concern for any team, but especially one like this that relies so heavily on their level of energy to force turnovers. If they don't get turnovers, or at least swarm and cause chaos, then they are in trouble - as was the case against Pitt. If they are lacking self-belief against a team this good then they could have real issues.
Injuries have been a very significant and unfortunate storyline for Miami. It feels like each week they lose another key player. In recent weeks they have lost a strong running back and a significant tight end, and now they face the issue of playing without top receiver Ahmmon Richards. The killer in that injury is that it didn't even happen in the game - it was suffered in practice. And that creates a real challenge for the Hurricanes. Their offense is far from perfect in the best of circumstances, and now they are facing a very stout defensive line while really being handicapped with a lack of offensive weapons. It sure makes it easier to buy into the theory that they hit the wall - or that they are going to really smash into it now.
Clemson at Miami Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Clemson favored by as little as 6.5, and it has been on the climb since - it sits at 9.5 now . Two-thirds of bets have been on Clemson, so the direction of the line movement makes sense. The size of the movement, though, suggests that sharp money is on Clemson, too. The total opened at 47.5 and has fallen by a point.
Miami is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall, 1-5 ATS in their last six conference games, and 1-6 ATS in their last six neutral-site games. The Tigers are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 neutral-site games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven December games. They are, however, just 1-3-1 ATS in their last five conference games. The teams have gone "over" the total in their last four meetings, and Miami is 1-4 ATS in the last five encounters.
Clemson at Miami Predictions and Picks
Clemson is going to win this game - I have done little to hide that belief. As far as betting this game, though, it was a much more attractive proposition at 6.5 than at 9.5. I would still suggest that Clemson is the right play here, but it is far from the most attractive play available to us this week.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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