Fiesta Bowl Betting Preview: Picks And Predictions For Ohio State vs. Clemson

Written By Matt Perrault on December 28, 2019

It’s time to find out who is going to win the 2019 College Football Nationals Championship. The second semi-final will put the winner of the ACC up against the winner of the Big 10 Conference as defending champ Clemson tangles with undefeated Ohio State in the 2019 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.

No one has been able to defeat either team this season and winning games by 3, 5, 7 or more touchdowns has not been out of the ordinary. A case can be made that this game features the two best teams in America.

In this article I’m going to provide a betting overview on the moneyline, points spreads, and the total using DraftKing Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook odds.

While we haven’t used many “leans” in our college football betting articles this season, I will use leans here when it’s appropriate. A lean is the direction I’m thinking the game will go but I’m not fully committed to backing it with a play. When I’m putting my own money down, that is what I call a “pick.”

Ohio State vs. Clemson moneyline

There has been the narrative around Clemson this season that the Tigers are overrated due to their schedule. If you still believe that after Clemson beat a solid Virginia team 62-17 in the ACC Championship Game, I don’t know if you watch much college football. Clemson had one scare this year, at UNC, but other than that the Tigers have straight out flattened everything in their path.

Dabo Swinney has been annoying this year, whining about not getting the proper amount of respect from the national press, but he isn’t wrong. The Tigers destroyed Alabama last year in the National Championship game and won every game on their schedule this year. The reward? The No. 3 seed and having to face an undefeated Ohio State team with as much firepower as anyone in the country. Even though the line says differently, the Tigers will be playing the underdog card in this game.

Ohio State is back in the playoffs after missing in 2018. In 2017, Clemson took apart the Buckeyes on this very field that the 2019 Fiesta Bowl will be played. In fact, Ohio State didn’t score in the game, losing 31-0. This version of Ohio State is much different than the 2017 team that only managed 215 yards of total offense and gave up 205 yards rushing to the team eventually won its first national title.

The Buckeyes are led by Justin Fields who has a ridiculous 40-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. It’s so good that you almost can’t believe the season he just recorded. Fields has the luxury of being surrounded by NFL talent at nearly every position on his offense. Running back J.K. Dobbins is arguably the best back in the country with 20 touchdowns to his credit and wideout Chris Olave might be the best deep threat in the college game. Clemson hasn’t seen anything like this offense this season.

This game is going to come down to one or two plays and I believe Clemson’s superstar trio of QB Trevor Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne, and receiver Tee Higgins has the pedigree to make the crucial plays when needed. You could easily make the case that the winner of this game will win the National Title. It’s still Clemson’s time.

PICK: Clemson -132 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Ohio State vs. Clemson point spread

Clemson beat up the books this season, going 10-3 ATS. The Tigers managed to cover lines of more than 30 points 10 times. Think about that. The sportsbooks were giving the underdog more than four touchdowns and they couldn’t keep the game within that margin. Clemson hasn’t just beaten teams; the Tigers have crushed them.

This is the smallest line of the year for Clemson as -2.5 favorites against Ohio State. The previous smallest line was 16.5 in Week 2 against Texas A&M and again in the Big 10 Title game and Clemson didn’t cover either spread. No one is questioning the talent of the roster for the Tigers, but some aren’t sure this team is battle tested the way that Ohio State has been this season.

Ohio State went 9-4 ATS in the regular season but covered just once in its last four games entering this semifinal. Against Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game, Ohio State was actually losing at the half before waking up to win by 13 as 16.5-point favorites. This will mark the first time this year that the Buckeyes are catching points from an opponent. The previous smallest line for OSU was against Michigan where they were laying nine points. Ohio State won by 29.

In games like this, one or two points against the spread can mean a great deal. The number might get to -3 at some point before this game kicks but it has stayed pretty steady at -2 or -2.5. I think it’s easier to play the money line but if you want to pay less juice, lay the points.

LEAN: Clemson -2.5 (DraftKings Sportsbook)

Clemson vs. Ohio State over/under (total)

With two of most explosive offenses in the country and two teams that average a combined 95 points per game, it’s no shock that the sports book have set the total for this game at 63.5. Clemson and Ohio State both can play defense. If they couldn’t, this line might have been in the 80s. Instead, this line is pretty much right where the total has been this season for games involving these teams.

The under has hit in seven of Clemson’s 13 games while the under hit in six of Ohio State’s games this season. In the ACC title game, the over easily hit while the under came in on the Big 10 title game.

Clemson’s largest total was against 63 against Syracuse and only 47 points were scored. That wasn’t the Tigers’ fault as they put up 41 but as often was the case, the opponent couldn’t do anything against Clemson’s defense. For Ohio State, the over went 2-2 with a total of 63 or higher this season.

While both teams play defense, this game is about the offenses and I think both are going to score more than 30 in this game.

LEAN: Over 63.5 (FanDuel Sportsbook)

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Matt Perrault

Matt Perrault is the sports gambling voice of SB Nation Radio, nationally hosting "Pushing The Odds”, weekdays from 1 to 4 p.m. ET, live from Las Vegas. His show features daily sports gambling, DFS, and gaming content. A lifelong sports gambler, Matt has been covering the sports gaming industry since moving to Vegas in 2015 and has made his mark with sports book operators around the sports gambling world.

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