While there are certainly several intriguing conference championship games this weekend in college football, none has greater playoff implications, perhaps, than the ACC Championship.
Yes, No. 1 Clemson (12-0) and No. 10 North Carolina (11-1) square off Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET. If Clemson wins, it will only validate what the committee has said all along: that the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country. If North Carolina wins? Chaos. The Tar Heels, by the way, are only 4.5-point underdogs, so an upset wouldn’t be all that shocking – at least not to Las Vegas.
So, what happens if UNC pulls the upset?
“Well, I think North Carolina is in a bit of an unenviable position,” Vegas virtuoso and sportsline.com analyst Todd Fuhrman said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Their two wins against FCS competition and that bad loss earlier in the year to South Carolina may keep them on the outside looking in even if they can pull the upset on Saturday. This number – 6.5 is where it opened in some spots. It’s come down, and that’s money from the professionals backing the Tar Heels thinking that they have as much firepower offensively as Clemson does. You look at these two stop units, and neither one of them leaves you feeling a ton of confidence. Clemson has failed to cover every game they’ve played since Halloween, and so that’s what’s also reflected in this price.”
Clemson has won three of its last four games by 10 points or fewer, including a 37-32 win at South Carolina this past weekend. Why have the Tigers struggled to cover over the last month?
“(The large spreads have) definitely (been) a big part,” Fuhrman said. “You do have to pay a premium if you want to back teams with those fancy alpha numerics next to them. I think that Dabo Swinney has gone a little more vanilla in the play-calling. Beating Wake Forest and South Carolina, amongst others, you really don’t need to show too much – and clearly Clemson had their sights on a little bit more as far as accomplishments were concerned than covering a (four-touchdown spread) in those conference games.”
With Clemson’s season on the line Saturday, though, Fuhrman expects the Tigers to pull out all the stops.
“I want to make a case to back the dog,” he said. “I really do. I can’t do it, though. I think Clemson empties the kitchen sink and shows us why the committee has them as the No. 1 team in the land right now.”