ACC Championship Game Prediction
The #3 ranked Clemson Tigers take on the Virginia Cavaliers Saturday, December 7th, in Charlotte for the ACC Championship. Clemson leads the overall series against Virginia 38-8-1. Clemson won the first 29 games in the series, and Virginia was commonly referred to as the “white meat” on Clemson’s schedule. The Cav’s are going into Saturday’s game fresh off breaking a 15-game losing streak against Virginia Tech. It’s been 6 years since these two teams faced off against each other. The last time Clemson played Virginia, Tajh Boyd threw for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns and ran for another in a 59-10 Clemson win. Sammy Watkins had 8 receptions for 169 yards and 2 TDs. Clemson’s defense held UVA to 277 yards total offense and the score at halftime was 35-7. Look for a similar result on Saturday night. When Clemson has the ball:
This Clemson offense has pretty much been unstoppable for the entire season, albeit one hiccup against UNC. Let’s all get it out of our system. The UNC game was an anomaly, and it did set the tone for the rest of the season. It was the Syracuse game from last year, a wake up call. Trevor Lawrence is on fire, doing what he is good at: distributing the ball to the playmakers. This Clemson team averages 256 yards on the ground and 285 through the air. It’s almost impossible to make Clemson one dimensional. Lawrence is proving more and more that he has the ability to pull it down and get yards with his legs, not just his arm. The Virginia defense only gives up 123 on the ground, but 213 through the air. UVA has a pretty good front 7, averaging 3.58 sacks a game, but their defense has only caused 17 turnovers in 12 games. Look for this Clemson team to put up points, early and often. When Virginia has the ball:
This Clemson defense has held every opponent on their schedule this year to less than 300 yards a game. Let that sink in. This is the same defense that lost 7 starters to the NFL last season, and that every media analyst and their brother said in unison “The Clemson defense will take a step back, how can it not?”. The answer to this question is easy; Brent Venables. The man could scheme against Lamar Jackson!!! Wait, he already has and won. Brice Perkins is not quite on the talent level of Jackson, but he is the cog that makes that engine run. He accounts for 77% of their total yards. Perkins is their leading rusher and hits on 64% of his passes and is very dangerous running the football. Wayne Taulapapa is the 2nd leading rusher with 416 yards and 12 touchdowns, but is not a threat out of the backfield. Virginia has a 3-headed monster at WR with Joe Reed, Terrell Jana, and Hasise Dubois. The 3 receivers has accounted for 186 catches and 10 touchdowns.
The key to stopping UVA is clamping down on Perkins. Here goes that name again: Brent Venables. The cavs are going to be facing a hungry, athletic Clemson defense that blitzes and brings pressure from all angles. Perkins has only thrown 9 INTs and has excelled at breaking out of the pocket. He is a very dangerous runner. Still, having said all this about Brice Perkins, it’s still the Clemson defense. Virginia enters the game as a 28 point underdog to the 3rd ranked Tigers. They enter the game as the 7th different representative of the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship game. Sorry, Virginia, this isn’t the Belk Bowl and you’re not playing the USC gamecocks. The Atlantic Division is on an 8-game winning streak in the Championship game. Make it 9. Clemson wins 48-17.