clemson-vs.-miami-prediction,-line:-tigers-will-win-big

It would be fun if “The U” was truly back. It would be a boon to the sport, dominated by a handful of programs, if any ACC team posed a threat to Clemson winning its sixth straight league crown.

Unfortunately, a prime-time TV slot can’t will such intrigue into existence. Not beyond kickoff, anyway.

Because Clemson has lost only once in two-plus calendar years, an 18-point win over Virginia raised concerns for the nation’s top-ranked team. History should help erase any doubts.

The Tigers haven’t lost an ACC game in three years. Trevor Lawrence hasn’t thrown an interception in 11 games. Travis Etienne is the country’s most accomplished running back. Dabo Swinney has two title rings.

Meanwhile, No. 7 Miami — which went 6-7 last season — is enjoying prime real estate in the polls because of a soft schedule and the temporary disappearance of the Big Ten. Dual-threat D’Erik King has resuscitated the Hurricanes offense and will have his moments in the biggest game of a career spent outside the spotlight, but an offense reliant on the run will be the latest to get smothered by Brent Venables’ always reliable front seven.

Only once with Lawrence has Clemson won a non-playoff game by fewer than two touchdowns. Don’t believe the hype. Trust history. Take the Tigers (-14).

(Home team in CAPS.)

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (+6.5) over Florida Gators

Kyle Trask will remain in the Heisman conversation all season. Gators tight end Kyle Pitts might be able to join, too, having already scored six touchdowns in two games. But Florida — allowing an average of 29.5 points through two games — needs balance if it is to contend for its first national championship since 2008, when Tim Tebow’s teammates surrendered just 12.9 points per game.

Oklahoma Sooners (-2.5) over Texas Longhorns

at Cotton Bowl, Dallas

This will be the second Red River Shootout in two decades in which neither team is ranked inside the top 20. “Does it lose any luster? No,” Texas coach Tom Herman said this week. “In my opinion, this is the best rivalry in college football.” It is a rivalry which Oklahoma has owned recently, winning four of the past five meetings. Though the Sooners just lost consecutive games for the first time since 1999, the Longhorns — coming off a loss to TCU — have lost back-to-back games in each of Herman’s first three seasons in Austin.

Virginia Tech Cavaliers (+5) over NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS

Though the Tar Heels have failed to show they’re worthy of the No. 8 ranking, the Hokies have excelled despite being severely shorthanded by the coronavirus. In addition to a defense, which registered seven sacks in last week’s win over Duke, Kansas transfer Khalil Herbert is leading the nation with 156 rushing yards per game and 12 yards per carry.

Missouri Tigers (+20.5) over LSU TIGERS

Tiger Stadium has decided to stop wellness checks for the 25,000-plus fans allowed to attend games and begin selling alcohol again. I’m sure everything will be fine. I keep hearing someone say the virus is just going to disappear.

GEORGIA BULLDOGS (-12) over Tennessee Volunteers

The Vols’ eight-game win streak is the best in the nation, but no victories have come against ranked teams. Now that former walk-on Stetson Bennett has improbably proven to be a strong fit under center for No. 3 Georgia, the Bulldogs’ defense — allowing the second-fewest yards per play in the nation (3.8) — can dominate without the season resting solely on its shoulders.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (+12.5) over IOWA STATE CYCLONES

The Cyclones are coming off of their first home win over Oklahoma in 60 years. I’m thinking the team that looked past its season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette will handle its high as well as a college freshman.

Phil Jurkovec
Phil JurkovecGetty Images

AUBURN TIGERS (-14) over Arkansas Razorbacks

After three years and 20 losses, the Hogs have finally won a conference game. Up next? An opponent which has won the previous four meetings by a total score of 193-36.

BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (+5) over Pittsburgh Panther

Though Pitt’s pass rush remains among the nation’s best, its secondary hasn’t helped much, allowing 336 passing yards and four touchdowns in a loss to N.C. State. Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec should shine here, having completed better than 68 percent of his passes this year while throwing for at least 300 yards in both of BC’s ACC games.

Kansas State Wildcats (+9) over TCU HORNED FROGS

“It really bothers me that we’ve based everything that whether our league is good or bad or not on whether Oklahoma and Texas are good,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said this week. “To be honest with you, we have a lot of good football teams and we always have had a lot of good football teams.” Well, then Kansas State is getting way too many points.

OLE MISS REBELS (+24) over Alabama Crimson Tide

Nick Saban is 20-0 against his former assistants. Few of his working relationships ended as poorly as that with new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, who has spent the past few years mocking his former boss online. But Saban may not be able to run up the score against his former assistant, whose high-scoring offense will break out every trick up Kiffin’s sleeve. Fun fact: In their only head-to-head matchup, Kiffin’s 7-6 Tennessee team was a blocked field goal short of taking down eventual undefeated national champion Alabama on the road.

Florida State Seminoles (+20.5) over NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH

To be a contrarian is to be OK with potentially looking really stupid sometimes. Like, this time. Sure, the Seminoles could lose by 40, but new quarterback Jordan Travis may be just what the former juggernaut needs to transform from abysmal to below-average.

KENTUCKY WILDCATS (-1.5) over Mississippi State Bulldogs

On to more important matters: Somehow, I’d forgotten Mike Leach made a cameo on Season 4 of “Friday Night Lights.” Somehow, the clip of him playing a deranged fan telling Coach Taylor to find his “inner-pirate” has just 64,042 views on YouTube. You’re welcome.

Best bets: Oklahoma, Georgia, Boston College

This season (best bets): 34-23 (6-6)

2014-19 record: 772-756-13