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Sugar Bowl Betting Pick: Ohio State vs. Clemson


In this crazy, unpredictable, and bizarre season, there were no crashers to the College Football Playoff. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have combined for 13 appearances and five titles in the College Football Playoff era.

The 10-1 Clemson Tigers meet the 6-0 Ohio State Buckeyes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The winner will advance to a spot in the championship game against the winner between Alabama and Notre Dame. Clemson has won the previous two playoff meetings with Ohio State.


Ohio State Preview: Small Sample Size

The Buckeyes were only able to play five of their eight scheduled Big Ten regular-season games. The conference originally required a minimum of six games to qualify for the Big Ten Championship Game. The league relented, noting that Ohio State, even with a sixth game loss, would have won the Big Ten East.

Ohio State defeated Northwestern 22-10 to capture the conference crown and set the stage for a playoff appearance. Despite some complaints about Ohio State's limited schedule, the College Football Playoff Committee seeded the Buckeyes third.

Although its body of work was limited, Ohio State cruised through its schedule. The Buckeyes averaged almost 42.5 points a game, seventh in the country. Defensively, they gave up an average of 21 points, 26th nationally.

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Ohio State runs a balanced offense, averaging 253 passing yards and 276 rushing yards a game, totaling 529 yards. Quarterback Justin Fields completes 73 percent of his passes as well as running for 46 yards a game. Most of those numbers were run up against a weak schedule.

Against Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State rushed for 399 yards. Fields tossed a pair of interceptions, and the Buckeyes only got into the end zone twice.

Northwestern had been giving up 122 yards on the ground, so that rushing total was impressive for both bettors and handicappers.

Clemson Preview: It's the Trevor Lawrence Show

In Clemson's only loss of the season against Notre Dame, quarterback Trevor Lawrence was sidelined due to COVID-19 concerns. Clemson was held to under 50 rushing yards in that 47-40 overtime defeat.

The rematch was a different story, with Lawrence passing for 322 yards and adding another 90 with his feet.

For the season, the Tigers average 508 yards a game in total offense. The bigger story for Clemson is its stingy defense.

Clemson allows 199 yards passing and 100 yards rushing per game. In the ACC Championship Game, the Irish were limited to just 44 yards rushing.

Clemson has played in five of the six playoffs and advanced to the championship game four times. This is an experienced team and coaching staff, although offensive coordinator Tony Elliott will not be available due to COVID-19.

The Tigers are looking to avenge last season's 42-25 loss to LSU in the championship and send Lawrence to the NFL as a national champion.

We missed going 2-0 on our last free pick, losing on the hook on our Chiefs at Buccaneers betting preview.

Betting Lines and Odds

Clemson is favored by 7.5 points, and the over/under is 66.5 points. On the moneyline, Clemson has odds of -300, and Ohio State is at +240 for a winning bet.

For the season, the Tigers are 5-6 and the Buckeyes are 3-3 against the spread. Both teams are slightly above .500 on the over/under, with Clemson at 6-5 and Ohio State at 3-2-1.

Game Preview and Prediction

With its offensive prowess, Ohio State is always a threat to score a lot of points. However, the Buckeyes' big wins were over Indiana and Northwestern, two teams that lack the speed of Clemson. The Buckeyes will be taking a big step up in class against the Tigers.

While Ohio State is balanced on offense, Clemson is equally tough on defense. The Tigers bottled up Notre Dame and should be able to contain Fields. When Lawrence is on the mark, Clemson rolls.

Take Clemson, give the points, and take the under.

Prediction: Clemson 31, Ohio State 20.

Miss last week’s NFL action? No worries, we have your back. Go check out NFL Week 16 by the numbers.

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