X

Clemson vs. Ohio State: Odds and Score Prediction for Fiesta Bowl 2019

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistDecember 28, 2019

Clemson's Trevor Lawrence (16) scrambles with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)
Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

For the Clemson Tigers to earn a shot at repeating as college football's national champion, they have to conquer a fellow undefeated side in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Ohio State Buckeyes come into State Farm Stadium as the higher seed, but they are the underdog for Saturday night's clash. Dabo Swinney's side carries a ton of experience from five straight playoff appearances, while the Big Ten champion lacks that ahead of its first playoff berth since 2016.

Both sides boast a wealth of offensive weapons, but scoring may be at a premium with two of the best FBS defenses on the gridiron.

                 

Fiesta Bowl Odds

Spread: Clemson (-2) 

Over/Under: 62

Moneyline: Clemson (-125; bet $125 to win $100); Ohio State (+105; bet $100 to win $105)

Odds via Caesars.

              

Both teams are in a rare position from an odds perspective.

Clemson was an overwhelming favorite for most of ACC play, and it held a 28-point spread ahead of the ACC Championship Game victory over the Virginia Cavaliers.

Ohio State has not been placed in the underdog role. It blitzed through a majority of its opponents and enters the Fiesta Bowl with three straight wins over ranked foes.

Because of the two-point spread, a pick on the line itself is likely a vote of confidence in that team to win outright. Betting the total could be a more complicated process since the two sides rank in the top three in FBS scoring defense.

Clemson has not allowed an opponent to score 20 points since its September 28 scare against the North Carolina Tar Heels. In the past two months, the Tigers held three opponents to single digits, and two of them did not earn an end-zone trip.

Ohio State conceded more than 20 points to three of its last four foes, and it struggled to control the first half of the Big Ten Championship Game, as it faced a 21-7 halftime deficit.

If one or both of the sides fail to discover offensive consistency, a bet on the over could be in trouble. Three of the last four No. 2-No. 3 playoff matchups featured fewer than 40 points, including the 2016 Fiesta Bowl clash between Clemson and Ohio State, which the Tigers won 31-0.

In fact, none of Clemson's previous four national semifinals have gone over 60 points, and in the past three, the loser failed to hit 10 points.

                       

Score Prediction

Clemson 27, Ohio State 21 

Unlike most of Clemson's past semifinal bouts, Saturday's Fiesta Bowl is expected to be a close affair.

Both Justin Fields and Trevor Lawrence have a handful of weapons to work with in the passing game, and they are complemented by star running backs J.K. Dobbins and Travis Etienne.

Ohio State proved in the Big Ten Championship Game that it can overcome early struggles, so it can come back if it fails to find an early rhythm.

The difference-maker might be Clemson's playoff experience, led by Lawrence and wide receivers Justyn Ross and Tee Higgins. The latter pair combined for 435 receiving yards in last year's playoff contests, and they are facing an Ohio State secondary that conceded 537 passing yards in its previous two games.

                   

Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.