Clemson, currently second choice at +400 odds to win the 2019 CFP National Championship behind Alabama (+250), is seeing a mixed bag of early money in its Games of the Year offerings. South Point sportsbook in Las Vegas, which released the first set of lines for nearly 100 different college football contests on May 24, dangles the Tigers in four separate outings: N.C. State (Week 9), at Florida State (Week 10), Louisville (Week, 11), and South Carolina (Week 14). Here’s a look at the odds, line movement, and our thoughts betting the much-anticipated showdowns:
Clemson Games of the Year
Week 9, N.C. State
Opening Line (May 24): -20
Current Line (July 23): -20
The late October date in Death Valley against N.C. State is generating little interest with a -20 opening line. The Wolfpack, which put up 32.2 points per game last season, return seven starters on offense. This includes quarterback Ryan Finley. The senior signal-caller is generating buzz in mock 2019 NFL Drafts after tossing for 17 TDs, 6 INTs, and 3,518 yards on 312-of-479 passes in 2017. His poise, leadership, and experience will see the unit put up similar numbers; definitely dangerous to lay nearly three touchdowns against.
Our preseason model projects a 31-18 Tigers win, but N.C. State easily covering the spread. Head coach Dabo Swinney has spotted seven separate ACC rivals owning a positive point differential the prior season two touchdowns or more at home in his career. His record is 6-1 straight up (SU), but just 1-5-1 against the spread (ATS). Clemson is coming up 5.3 points shy of a -17.1 average line in this situation. It has never won by more than 17 points.
Best Bet: N.C. State +20
Week 10, at Florida State
Opening Line: -10
Current Line: -9
Florida State is a bit of an enigma with Willie Taggart taking over as head coach. The offense will be simpler than Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style system, and definitely more explosive. Expect a similar aggressive, big-play mentality on defense. Many suspect this transition will come easy and prove successful with the amount of raw talent on the Seminoles’ roster. Time will tell.
Swinney is just 1-4 SU and 3-2 ATS in Tallahassee all-time. Clemson wins 27-22 in our projections, but this the best shot outside of a early-season date at Texas A&M any team has at derailing the Tigers during the regular season. The line has dipped to single digits (-9) after a -10 opener. This is tight enough to avoid.
Best Bet: Pass
Week 11, Louisville
Opening Line: -20.5
Current Line: -21.5
Losing former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson hurts, but the Cardinals are going to be just fine. Head coach Bobby Petrino has tallied eight wins in each of four seasons since returning to Louisville in 2014. Twelve starters are back–nine on offense–and new quarterback Jawon Pass is being heralded as the next Cam Newton by some. The 6-foot-4, dual-threat freshman is turning plenty of heads. Oh, and Petrino has lost just one of 32 ACC contests by more than three touchdowns in his career.
Best Bet: Louisville +21.5
Week 14, South Carolina
Opening Line: -19
Current Line: -20
The last time the Carolina-Clemson rivalry was played in Death Valley, the Tigers romped 56-7. The Gamecocks should be better this season, but the offense has few weapons to threaten Clemson’s powerful defense.
Clemson owns a 16-point advantage in average margin of victory from last season. The four other times this edge has totaled over 10.5, the Tigers are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS, winning by 23.8 points per game. Laying the points offers a small advantage.
Best Bet: Clemson -207-23-18-south-point-odds-2018-col-fb-gm-o-year-current