The Clemson Tigers take on the North Carolina Tar Heels. Check out our ACC Championship odds series for our Clemson North Carolina prediction and pick.
The North Carolina Tar Heels led 17-0 at home against Georgia Tech nearly two weeks ago. They blew that lead and did not score a point in the second half of that game, losing 21-17. North Carolina then hosted North Carolina State on Thanksgiving weekend. North Carolina State, crushed by injuries at the quarterback spot, put in a fourth-string quarterback. That’s not a lie: N.C. State inserted Ben Finley, who was fourth on the depth chart earlier in the season behind starter Devin Leary and backups Jack Chambers and M.J. Morris. A fourth-string quarterback against North Carolina Heisman Trophy contender Drake Maye should have been a game the Tar Heels won decisively. Instead, they stumbled through a bad performance and lost in overtime on a missed field goal.
North Carolina had been 9-1. The Tar Heels’ season was surpassing all expectations. Maye was headed to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York for a December awards ceremony.
It has all come crashing down. The Tar Heels get one last chance to salvage their season. If they lose to Clemson and can’t win the ACC title for the first time since 1980, this season will be remembered for how the Tar Heels fell short, not for how much they achieved.
North Carolina played Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in 2015 but lost to Deshaun Watson in a high-scoring game. North Carolina also lost to Clemson, 10-8, in a 1981 showdown which ultimately decided the ACC championship. Clemson went on to win the national title; one can make the argument that was Clemson’s toughest game of the 1981 season. North Carolina has not been able to overtake Clemson on the biggest stages in football. This is a chance for the Tar Heels to write a significant piece of football history in the ACC.
Clemson is coming off a shocking home-field loss to South Carolina. The Tigers had won 40 straight home games under Dabo Swinney. They led 30-21 late in the third quarter and were headed on a path to victory, but then they allowed a big pass play, their offense shut down, and they allowed another field goal before committing a late fumble which sealed their fate. Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, who was solid in the first half of the season but who regressed against Syracuse and Notre Dame a few weeks ago, was horrible: 8 of 29 passing for just 99 yards. His regression came at exactly the wrong time for Clemson, which now has zero chance of making the College Football Playoff. Clemson’s season will be a disaster if it does not win this game. The Tigers did not win the ACC title a year ago. Two straight years without a conference crown would be unthinkable.
Here are the Clemson-North Carolina ACC Championship Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
ACC Championship Odds: Clemson-North Carolina Odds
Clemson Tigers: -7.5 (-112)
North Carolina Tar Heels: +7.5 (-108)
Over: 63.5 (-108)
Under: 63.5 (-112)
Why Clemson Could Cover the Spread
North Carolina is in free-fall. Clemson is not playing well, to be sure, but North Carolina has completely lost the plot. Clemson should be able to dominate in the trenches and win without having to throw the ball too much.
Why North Carolina Could Cover the Spread
D.J. Uiagalelei is cratering. Clemson can’t pass. North Carolina should be able to load the tackle box to stop the run and grind the Clemson offense to a halt.
Final Clemson-North Carolina Prediction & Pick
Drake Maye is probably the key to this game. He was awesome for most of the year but has turned into a pumpkin along with his UNC teammates. It’s hard to have much faith in Carolina after the last two weeks, in which the Tar Heels should have beaten an inferior Georgia Tech team and an injury-depleted N.C. State team. If they couldn’t beat those teams, they’re not going to play well against Clemson.
Final Clemson-North Carolina Prediction & Pick: Clemson -7.5