It’s a primetime battle in the ACC as the 8-1 Clemson Tigers are in Blacksburg for a matchup with the 4-5 Hokies of Virginia Tech inside Lane Stadium/Worsham Field on Saturday night. The game will be the first meeting between the two schools since 2017. Clemson is riding a five-game winning streak in the series, preceded by the Hokies running five straight of their own from 1998-2007.
Kickoff is at 7:30 P.M. Eastern on ABC. Clemson is a 22.5-point favorite.
Clemson enters this game coming off a pounding of the Pitt Panthers this past Saturday, 52-17. Trevor Lawrence returned to the field for the first time since Oct. 24. He missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19, then the Tigers’ scheduled contest with Florida State was canceled.
If the Pitt game was Lawrence’s final game at Death Valley (he’s expected to be the number one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, if he declares), he went out with a bang, tossing for more than 400 yards and two touchdowns as he tries to re-enter the Heisman discussion.
The matchup is Clemson’s final regular-season game as they’ll then set their sights on the ACC Championship. The ACC announced a series of scheduling changes which allowed Notre Dame to clinch a spot in the title game and gave both the Fighting Irish and the Tigers an open date on Dec. 12. Notre Dame is responsible for Clemson’s only blemish this season, a double-overtime thriller that Lawrence was forced to miss.
The second half of the 2020 season has been rough on the Hokies, who started the campaign 3-1 but have since dropped four of five, including three straight entering this weekend. Their most recent setback came at the hands of Pitt on Nov. 21. The Panthers walloped VT 47-14 despite missing 16 players because of coronavirus issues.
Khalil Herbert has been a bright spot in Blacksburg, however, as the senior running back’s 924 rush yards on 8.2 yards per carry leads the ACC. This weekend marks Herbert’s first and only crack at Clemson, as the graduate transfer from Kansas takes the field in a marquee matchup at running back with Travis Etienne pacing the opposing sideline.
Betting Line and Pick
Clemson is a 22.5-point favorite on the road in this one, with an over/under of 67. Both teams are just 3-6 ATS this season, but it’s important to mention that the Tigers have gone over the posted total in five consecutive games, eclipsing the number in the third quarter against Pitt last week.
The Hokies have had two weeks to prepare for this game, but coming off a bye last year, they were crushed by Duke at home and lost to Notre Dame on the road.
Lawrence is trying to make up for lost time this season, likely his last, with one more regular-season opportunity to impress the Heisman voters. He showed no signs of rust last week, and that should continue Saturday.
Pick: Clemson Tigers (-22.5).