Left out in the cold after losing in the Big Ten Championship, the Ohio State Buckeyes settled for an Orange Bowl appearance and are laying a field goal to the Clemson Tigers in early wagering.
The Tigers were 1-2 as an underdog this year but are on a 5-3 run in that role dating back to 2011. The Orange Bowl has been kind to dogs in the past decade.
Point spread: The Buckeyes were three-point favorites on the opening Orange Bowl odds menu; the total was 68. (Line updates and matchup report)
Odds Shark computer prediction: 42.9-37.5 Buckeyes
Why Clemson can cover the Orange Bowl spread
For Dabo Swinney, there is plenty of reason to believe he will be coaching for a huge win in this game. For starters, there's the redemption intangible from two years ago, when he and the Tigers were drubbed by West Virginia in this same bowl, 70-33.
Second, this is a chance for Swinney to send his stock through the roof for the college coaching openings popping up everywhere. With the 11th-ranked scoring offense in the nation, the Tigers have a good chance to hang with Ohio State's fourth-ranked scoring offense.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd will also be looking to raise his own stock in this game by making his Tigers the eighth underdog to cover the Orange Bowl spread in 11 tries.
Why Ohio State can cover the Orange Bowl spread
Clemson (10-2) is a very good football team, and a solid win and cover might quiet those who say Ohio State (12-1) coasted through a cupcake schedule. The Buckeyes, who failed to cover their last four games this season, are out to avenge the conference championship loss to the Michigan State Spartans.
The Buckeyes, who have stayed under in six of their last eight bowl games, are 7-3 against the line in bowl games going back to former coach Jim Tressel's first season in 2001.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer checks in at a 6-1 ATS run in bowl games from his days with Utah and Florida.
Smart Orange Bowl Pick
As good as the Buckeyes are, Clemson's receivers are extremely dangerous and will put Ohio State's secondary to the test in this game. We've seen five teams torch Ohio State's defense for 300 or more yards passing this season, as the Buckeyes' pass defense ranked 11th in the Big Ten, allowing 259.5 yards per game through the air.
Boyd will be aiming for his favorite target, Sammy Watkins, and has a stellar receiving corps he can bank on when turning the offensive game plan vertical.
The smart play is on the Tigers, who have a good shot at winning this game outright. The Orange Bowl betting history has seen a steady diet of "dog and under" lately with underdogs covering seven of 10 spreads and six of seven going UNDER the total.
- UNDER is 6-2 past 8 Ohio State bowl games
- UNDER is 8-3 past 11 games when Clemson is an underdog
- Underdogs are 7-3 ATS past 10 Orange Bowls
- UNDER is 6-1 past seven Orange Bowls