Bowl Picks: Oklahoma vs. Clemson To Go 'Under' In Orange Bowl

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, December 31, 2015 4:43 PM GMT

While Oklahoma and Clemson have potent offenses, it is the defenses that may rule the day in the first College Football Playoff Semifinal, yielding an ‘under’ in the Orange Bowl.

 

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2960410, "sportsbooksIds":[169,1096,93,19,92,238], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

College Football Pick: Under 65
Best Line Offered: at Bovada

 

The first College Football Playoff Semifinal of this season may produce a much lower scoring game than many observers think on Thursday when the fourth seeded Oklahoma Sooners (11-1, 9-3 ATS) take on the number one ranked Clemson Tigers (13-0, 6-7 ATS) in the Orange Bowl from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL at 4:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted total at Bovada is 64 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -105.

 

Fourth Seed is the Favorite
What is interesting about this one-seed vs. four-seed matchup is fourth-seeded Oklahoma has now been bet up to a 4½-point favorite at major books like Pinnacle, 5 Dimes, Bookmaker, Heritage and BetOnline, with Bovada holding at Oklahoma -4. Seedings aside, this line points to the Sooners being the most impressive team in the nation since their shocking loss to Texas, and remember they are playing with big time revenge after a 40-6 bowl loss to Clemson last season!

Still, we would not be so quick to discount a Clemson team that was the winning college football pick in all 13 games this year, putting its stamp on a 12-0 regular season with a 45-37 win over North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game. Furthermore that final score was rather deceptive, as the Tigers actually held a Tar Heels offense that averaged 486.9 yards per game to only 382 total yards.

Thus, we are not particular keen on either side here with Oklahoma favored in the 4 to 4½ point-range, but we do like the ‘under’ quite a bit at what seems like an inflated total of 64 at Bovada. After all, as great as these two offenses are, neither team would have gotten to this national semifinal without some great defense.

 

Stiff Defense in Offensive Big 12
The Sooners enter this game with great momentum having won seven straight games by an average of +32.6 points, and while it is true that Oklahoma has amassed some big point totals during the streak, the defense has also contributed to that high average winning margin. Moreover, the Oklahoma defense is probably even better than its raw numbers because it plays in an offensive-minded, pass-happy Big 12 where many teams treat defense as an afterthought.

Despite playing in a conference with that dominant offensive mentality, the Sooners are currently 22nd in the country in scoring defense allowing 20.8 points per game and 28th in total defense surrendering only 350.7 yards per contest. With no disrespect intended toward Clemson, we feel that the Sooners should have even better success defensively here vs. an ACC offense after dealing with potent Big 12 Conference offenses all year.

In fact, the Sooners allowed more than 30 points just once during conference play, and even then, the 34 points allowed vs. Baylor was well below what the Bears usually score. At the same time, the offense also benefitted vs. some terrible Big 12 defenses, so we do not look for Oklahoma to come anywhere near its 45.8-point scoring average vs. this Clemson defense.

 

Undefeated Underdog
The Tigers have to feel disrespected by the betting market here as rather decided underdogs despite being top ranked with an unblemished 13-0 record, and we expect Clemson to probably do the best job defending the Oklahoma offense that any team has done all season, even if it does not match the six points and 275 total yards allowed to the Sooners in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season.

Clemson lost some starters off of that sensational 2014 defense, but the drop-off this year was not that bad at all as the Tigers are 19th in the county in points allowed at 20.2 per game and an excellent seventh in total defense allowing just 296.2 yards per contest, thanks to ranking fifth in passing defense at a mere 166.9 yards per encounter and sixth in total sacks with 38. Thus, Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield could be under the most pressure he has faced all year.

Granted the Tigers have looked better offensively this season than they did last year, ranking 16th in the country in scoring with 38.5 points per game and 11th in total offense with 510.6 yards per contest, but again, we expect nothing close to that vs. an Oklahoma defense that has contained better offenses this year.

 

Trending the ‘under’
Finally, these teams are not unaccustomed to playing relatively low scoring games despite the quality of each offense, which points to how well rounded these teams are with great defenses also. The ‘under’ is 9-3 in Clemson’s last 12 games vs. teams with winning records and 7-3 in its last 10 December games, as well as 4-1 in Oklahoma’s last five non-conference games and 12-3-1 in its last 16 December games.

Look for these defenses to show their worth again here in the Orange Bowl and for Oklahoma and Clemson to come in ‘under’ this inflated total in the first College Football Playoff Semifinal on Thursday.