Top Powerhouses Collide at Orange Bowl: Pick Clemson +4 Against Oklahoma

Ted Sevransky

Thursday, December 17, 2015 8:40 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015 8:40 PM GMT

We take a look at the college football odds available for the Orange Bowl. Get ready for an in-depth analysis at Oklahoma vs. Clemson top rated bowl. Don't miss our preview.

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College Football Pick: Clemson +4
Best Line Offered: at Bet365

Oklahoma vs. Clemson
‘Big Game Bob’ Stoops developed his reputation very early in his head coaching career, leading the Sooners to an impressive upset win over Florida State for the national title back in 2000.  His Sooners beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl in 2001 and Washington State in the Rose Bowl in 2002. Voila, ‘Big Game Bob’, a name that was well deserved when the Sooners were going 11-1 SU in their first twelve games against Top 10 foes in the Stoops era.

Of course since that time, Oklahoma has not been able to repeat that initial success. They lost in the Sugar Bowl to LSU and got blown out playing for the national title against USC in the 2004 Orange Bowl.  Boise State knocked ‘em off in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia annihilated them in the same venue the following year. Their 28 point loss in the 2012 Cotton Bowl certainly stands out, as does last year’s no-show in a 40-6 bowl loss to the same Clemson team they’ll face here. Oklahoma is 0-3 in national title games and 2-5 in BCS Bowl games since that early success. And I’m not even going to bring up the bevy of big November games in Big 12 play that ‘Big Game Bob’ Stoops has lost as a favorite.

Here in Las Vegas, Oklahoma is power rated as the second best team in the country, behind Alabama but well ahead of undefeated Clemson.  The betting markets have been very impressed with the Sooners 7-0 SU, 6-1 ATS run since their lone loss against Texas. That being said, this team wasn’t good enough to beat 5-7 Texas, a team that failed in every other ‘step-up’ in class game all year until their season finale against banged up Baylor.

The Sooners schedule certainly played out in their favor. They didn’t face Baylor or TCU until late November, when injuries had devastated both teams, leaving them as a paltry shell of the squads they were earlier in the campaign. Despite the injury woes, the Sooners were lucky to survive against TCU, winning only because the Horned Frogs failed to convert a two point try in the final minute. They got Baylor one game after QB Seth Russell got knocked out for the season due to neck surgery. They were lucky to survive at Tennessee, beating the Vols when Butch Jones squad was in a tailspin, blowing leads week after week.

That being said, the Sooners statistical profile is very impressive. QB Baker Mayfield averaged better than 9.5 yards per pass attempt, with a 35-5 TD-INT ratio. RB’s Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon both averaged better than six yards per carry for the full season, rushing for 22 TD’s between them. Their defense is loaded with NFL caliber talent, including Eric Striker, Zack Sanchez, Charles Tapper, Dominique Alexander and Ahmad Thomas. By the numbers and the NFL caliber talent on hand, you can understand why the Sooners are favored here.

That being said, what the heck does Clemson have to do to earn some respect from the betting markets?? Clemson, like Oklahoma, has been recruiting blue chippers and sending them to the NFL on a regular basis in recent seasons; guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, CJ Spiller, Dwayne Allen, Vic Beasley, Da’Quan Bowers – I could go on, but you get my point. Dabo Sweeney’s squad isn’t short on NFL caliber talent, and there’s no significant talent differential between these two teams.

All Clemson did for the entirety of the season was to win games and cover against the college football odds. Oklahoma beat Tennessee in non-conference action; Clemson beat Notre Dame. They won on the road at Louisville and Miami, and handled tough tests against Florida State and North Carolina with easy double digit victories. Dabo Swinney’s squad is essentially being penalized by the betting markets because they haven’t been here before.

Clemson’s last three bowls have been SU and ATS wins over Oklahoma, Oho State and LSU; all as underdogs. Yes, they were +5 in turnovers in that Russell Athletic Bowl win over the Sooners last year, but it’s not like the tigers have been losing the turnover battle regularly this year.  Take the points with Clemson as your college football pick.

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