On Saturday night in North Carolina, the Clemson Tigers will face off against the Pittsburgh Panthers in the ACC Championship. Number two Clemson comes in at 12-0 and will be in the College Football Playoff with a win here. Pittsburgh comes in at 7-5 but were able to find their way into this championship game with a 6-2 conference record.
The Season Till Now
Clemson has been dominant all season long, winning 10 out of 12 games by 20 points or more. True freshman Trevor Lawrence took over the QB job early in the season and has not looked back. He has compiled nearly 2500 yards and 22 touchdowns versus 4 interceptions this season. The passing attack has been incredible this year, but the running game has been just as unstoppable. Running back Travis Etienne has run for 1307 yards on just 164 carries, which is an astonishing 8 yards per carry. He has also accounted for 19 touchdowns on the ground.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, has not had it as easy. Four of their seven wins this season have come by ten points or less, and they have had to scratch and claw to get to where they are now. Running back Qadree Ollison has been the star for them on offense, rushing for 1134 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pitt’s quarterback play has been solid, but it is nothing in comparison to Clemson’s. Kenny Pickett has thrown for 1825 yards to go along with 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Both Teams Coming In Strong
Clemson comes in off a 56-35 victory against the South Carolina Gamecocks. This game was within reach throughout, but Clemson was in control for most of it. Lawrence went 27 for 36 for 393 yards and one touchdown. The ground game was dominant for all four quarters, combining for 744 yards and seven touchdowns. Nobody has been able to stop the Tiger offense this year as they have averaged 45.7 points per game. They have thrown for 283 yards per game and have run for 256 yards per game. Clemson should be able to run the ball successfully yet again against a Pittsburgh defense that has allowed 174 rushing yards per game.
Pittsburgh has relied on the defense to come away victorious more times than not. The defense allows 28 points per game. Their pass defense has been their key to victory, only allowing 153 yards a game. This will be important as they will have to stop Trevor Lawrence to stay close. The Panther offense could have some troubles against Clemson’s defense, which has allowed only 14 points per game. The running game has averaged 233 yards per game, but Clemson only allows 85, so this could be a difficulty. Also, Pittsburgh will most likely find themselves in comeback mode, which will force them to pass the ball more than run the ball.
Tigers vs. Panthers Prediction
Clemson comes in at -25.5. This may look like a lot of points for a conference championship game but should be easily possible for this Clemson team. The offense will be able to score at will as it has all season long. The defense will stifle Pittsburgh in the run game, and Pitt doesn’t have the aerial attack to keep up with Clemson. Take Clemson minus the points.
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