Virginia Tech (9-3, 6-2) vs Clemson (11-1, 7-1)
When: Saturday, December 3rd 2016
Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ABC
The Clemson Tigers look to lock down a College Football Playoff berth while at the same time winning the ACC crown when they take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on Saturday night. The Tigers can make the selection process rather easy after Washington won the Pac-12 last night and join Alabama and Ohio State in the CFB Playoff. At least that’s the way the experts see it. Since a 43-42 loss to Pittsburgh three weeks ago, Clemson has been playing their best football of the season. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson got off to a slow start this season but has returned to form recently and threw six touchdown passes against South Carolina last week, including three to Mike Williams. Running back Wayne Gallman was also sparked by the loss, amassing 273 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games after failing to reach 100 yards in his previous four. The Tigers’ strong defense is one of the best in the country at getting into the backfield, ranking second nationally in tackles for loss (8.7) and fourth in sacks (3.5). Clemson has won four straight and five of its last six games in the state of Florida, including a 37-34 victory at Florida State earlier this season.
Virginia Tech edged out three teams by one game to win the Coastal division and have won five of their last six games including a 52-10 beat-down against rival Virginia last Saturday. First-year coach Justin Fuente has revived Virginia Tech following back-to-back 7-6 seasons. The Hokies’ resurgence has been built on a hard-nosed defense, much like the teams under long-time coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies are especially good against the pass and have produced 17 takeaways in their nine wins. They are ranked 18th in overall defense (332.2) and 20th in scoring defense (21.1). Virginia Tech ranks third among Power Five teams in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert just 26.8% of the time. The offense is led by junior-college transfer quarterback Jerod Evans, who quietly has put up big numbers, completing 63.8% of his passes for 3,045 yards with 26 touchdowns and five interceptions while adding 713 yards and eight TDs on the ground. The Hokies are looking for their first conference title since 2010 and first 10-win season since 2011.
Clemson is riding high right now and the offense is clicking. Virginia Tech has the defense to slow down the Tigers a little, but the Clemson defense will rule this game. The Hokies won’t get much on offense, which will lead to a Clemson blowout.
Pick: Clemson -10