Check out the ACC Championship: Clemson vs. Miami fearless prediction and game preview.
Clemson (11-1) vs. Miami (10-1) Game Preview
Broadcast, TV, Game Time
Date: Saturday, December 2nd
Game Time: 8:00 pm ET
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
This was supposed to be a regular occurrence for Miami.
2004 was Miami’s first season in the ACC, but the conference didn’t have a championship game in 2005. Since then, Virginia Tech – who also made the move over from the Big East – has been in the ACC title game six times. Georgia Tech four times, and even Duke has gotten in.
In all, eight ACC teams have been in the championship. Louisville, NC State, Pitt, Syracuse and Virginia haven’t made it. And until this year, Miami has never made an appearance.
For Clemson, the trip to Charlotte is becoming an annual ritual. This is its third straight trip and its fifth overall, as it shoots for its fourth title in nine years.
But this is the most important and biggest ACC Championship ever. For the first time in the 13 years, it’s a win-and-get-in situation when it comes to the BCS or the College Football Playoff.
No. 1 in the next-to-last CFP rankings, Clemson will almost certainly stay in the top spot in the win, and would likely end up in the Sugar Bowl in the first round. If Miami wins, depending on what happens in the Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC championships, it’ll probably be the fourth seed and also be in the Sugar.
But first, the Canes have to find their swagger again.
It’s been a great breakthrough season under Mark Richt, but it appears the team hit a wall.
The defense has been incredible, but the offense hit-or-miss at times over a great run that finally suffered a blemish in a 24-14 loss at Pitt. But that doesn’t matter.
Add a win over the No. 1 team to the resume that includes a blowout victory over Notre Dame, and a solid performance against Virginia Tech, and yes … in.
Clemson hasn’t been nearly as dynamic as it was during the Deshaun Watson era, but it’s still been rock-solid as it rolled through win after win – other than that funky trip to Syracuse.
The loss to the Orange the worst defeat ever by a CFP contender this late into the season, but the committee didn’t care.
The defense has been fantastic, the offense good enough, and now the program is one win away from making it three straight trips to the tournament under Dabo Swinney.
But unlike last year, this season, it would go in as the defending national champ.
One Reason Why Clemson Will Win
The Tiger defensive front has cranked up its production to another level.
It’s unbelievable how it just doesn’t matter who Clemson loses on the D line, it’s still great.
The amazing run defense of 2014 allowed fewer than three yards per carry and just 11 touchdowns on the season. The 2015 D that played for the national title gave up just under 1,900 yards and 18 scores – granted, in 15 games. Also in 15 games last year, the Tigers allowed just over 1,900 yards with 20 rushing scores.
This year? Even with games against Auburn, Louisville and Georgia Tech on the slate, Clemson has allowed a mere 1,363 rushing yards and just five touchdowns. No one has hit the 200-yard mark, and only four teams went over 150.
Nothing seemed to be getting past this tremendous front four on a D that’s seventh in the nation in tackles for loss.
The Miami offense just isn’t consistently strong enough on the ground. Great against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame, it fizzled against Virginia and Pitt at times over the last two weeks.
On the flip side, the Clemson offensive line has been outstanding. Miami needs to dominate defensively behind the line and force big mistakes. Clemson doesn’t allow teams to get behind the line, and it doesn’t screw up enough.
One Reason Why Miami Will Win
Turn that defense loose.
It’s no coincidence that Miami came up with a season-low five tackles for loss in the loss against Pitt. This team feeds off the energy of its defense, and that means it has to fly around, generate a ton of pressure, and force mistakes.
It’s all about the turnovers for this team. It’s coming up with a whopping 29 on the year with two or more in each of its last six games.
Attack, attack, attack, force mistakes, capitalize on mistakes, make the other team jumpy, force more mistakes …
And then they’ve got you.
Pitt held the ball for 36:30, converted seemingly every third down try, and just never let Miami get into a groove.
The Canes aren’t built to win a shootout. They have to come up with easy chances for the offense, convert on every opportunity, and take on the attitude that no one believes it can win this game.
No other team left in the CFP chase seems to dominate off of disrespect better than this one.
What’s Going To Happen
Miami just doesn’t have the guys.
With RB Mark Walton and TE Chris Herndon out, the Canes were already down a few stars, and now it’s without top receiver Ahmmon Richards to a knee injury suffered in practice.
Clemson isn’t going to do anything funky. Let the defense do the work, get the ground game going, and make sure, more than anything else, that QB Kelly Bryant forces nothing.
Punting the ball isn’t a bad thing for the Tigers. They can win a war of attrition, but they can’t feed the Turnover Chain beast.
The Miami O won’t go anywhere, the two turnovers the D forces won’t be enough, and the Tigers will be back in the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 seed.
ACC Championship: Clemson vs. Miami Prediction
Clemson 30, Miami 16 | Get Tickets
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