Return of the Tigers: Why Clemson is a good bet to make the CFP

  • Lead researcher for “College GameDay” since 1996
  • Voter on ESPN CFB Selection Committee

College football betting preview schedule

Thursday: Betting Alabama
Friday: Betting Ohio State
Saturday: Betting Georgia
Monday: Betting Clemson
Tuesday: Betting Notre Dame

Bet: Clemson to make the College Football Playoff (+145)

Best case: After six ACC titles in a row, six straight College Football Playoff appearances and 97 straight weeks in the AP Top 10, it all came to an end for Clemson in 2021. Despite that, Clemson still won 10 games, and its losses were to Georgia by seven, NC State in OT and Pitt. For a down year, that’s still pretty close to a seventh straight ACC title and CFP appearance. Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee will lead one of the better defensive lines in the country and besides their matchup against Notre Dame in South Bend, Clemson should be a greater than TD favorite in every game. Dabo Swinney will be out to prove wrong the naysayers who questioned his staff hires and the trajectory of the program. And when Swinney has a chip on his shoulder, he is a dangerous coach to face.

Worst case: Among the 62 qualified Power 5 QBs last year, D.J. Uiagalelei ranked 54th, with a QBR of 43. The Tigers averaged 5.6 yards per dropback, good for 109th in the country, down from 8.0 in 2020 and 8.1 in 2019. As bad as you think Clemson’s passing game was, it was worse. Who is catching passes now with Justyn Ross gone? What if last year is closer to who Uiagalelei is and what we saw against Notre Dame in 2020 is the outlier? Can freshman Cade Klubnik step in if needed, and how quickly would Swinney be willing to make the change? NC State visits Death Valley on Oct. 1. If the Wolfpack upset Clemson for a second straight year, how would the Tigers react?

Betting spin: After Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State, the fourth spot in the CFP is seemingly wide open. The Tigers will start the year in position to control their destiny. I have to think the offense will be better and the defense will carry this team to win every game. You can get the Tigers at +145 to make the playoff, and should they win against NC State, I think that price would shorten up quite a bit.

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