North Carolina vs Clemson Preview & Prediction – ACC Championship Game

North Carolina (11-1, 8-0) vs Clemson (12-0, 8-0)
When: Saturday, December 5th 2015
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ABC

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The last remaining unbeaten teams in ACC Conference play meet Saturday night in Charlotte as the North Carolina Tar Heels play the #1 ranked Clemson Tigers. The Tar Heels season is much like Stanford’s in that they looked terrible in losing their first game of the year, then rolled the rest of the way. That opening loss at South Carolina and the fact that they played two FCS schools, is really hurting their chances at making the Playoffs. They will need a convincing win over Clemson and possibly an Alabama loss to Florida. North Carolina has one of the best offenses in the country led by quarterback Marquise Williams, who’s passing and running abilities rival that of anyone. Williams completed 64.5% of his passes for 2,601 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, but more impressively ran for 786 yards and 10 scores. Williams doesn’t have a favorite target as he spreads the ball around the field. Four Tar Heels receivers have at least 25 catches and 400 yards receiving. Running back Elijah Hood is emerging as one of the best backs in the country in the last four weeks. He’s coming off a 220 yard performance against N.C. State and has 8 touchdowns in his last four contests. His 6.7 yards a carry average ranks in the top 10 in the nation as well. Carolina is very good against the pass ranking 18th, but is very poor against the run ranking 107th. Safety Donnie Miles (99 tackles) and linebacker Shakeel Rashad (98) lead the defense, which has allowed 61 points over the last two games. 


Clemson’s offense is much like North Carolina’s in that they are led by a running quarterback who is very accurate and spreads the ball around. Deshaun Watson is the only player in the country with at least 3,000 yards passing and 750 rushing and has completed 70.4 percent of his passes, which ranks third in the nation. He has 3,228 yards passing, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions to go along with his 9 rushing scores. Six different Clemson players have recorded at least 300 yards receiving, led by WR Artavis Scott with 77 catches for 709 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Wayne Gallman missed the game against Wake Forest two weeks ago with an ankle injury, but returned against South Carolina last week and ran for 102 yards on 19 carries. Overall, he has 1,145 yards and nine touchdowns. Much like North Carolina, the Tar Heels defense is starting to slip a bit allowing 25.2 points per game over their last five. Defensive lineman Shaq Lawson leads the nation with 20.5 tackles for loss and has 8.5 sacks. Its quite simple for Clemson in this one – win and you’re in. They have won 15 games in a row overall and are favored to win this one as well. The Tigers lead the series 36-19-1 and have won five of the last six matchups, including a 50-35 victory last season.

I expect this to be a shootout with the way these offenses move the ball and the fact that both defenses seem to be tiring out. I’m taking the over as my play, but if you want my pick on the game, I’ll have to take the upstart North Carolina squad getting points.

Pick: Over 67.5 (small play on N.C. +4.5)