One of the marquee games of week five of the 2011 college football season is an ACC matchup featuring a pair of unbeatens with the 13th ranked Clemson Tigers (4-0) traveling to Blacksburg, VA to take on the 11th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies (4-0) this Saturday night (6:00pm ET). The Tigers come into this contest on a major roll after a pair of big home wins; beating conference rival Florida St. 35-30 last week and ending defending National Champion Auburn’s 17-game winning streak the week before with a 38-24 victory. Virginia Tech has yet to face a serious test this season, they beat a 1-3 Marshall team 30-10 on the road last week and have faced the likes of Arkansas St., East Carolina and Appalachian St. so far in 2011.
The Tigers’ up-tempo offense has gained almost 1,100 yards in their wins over the last two weeks, and quarterback Tajh Boyd has been the primary reason why with 13 TD passes and 1,25 yards passing on the year to lead the ACC in both categories. His top target has been freshman wide receiver Sammy Watkins, with 29 receptions for 433 yards and 6 TDs for the year. Defensively the Tigers have not exactly been a shut down unit, ranking 90th among FBS teams in yards per game allowed with 405.5 and 66th in points allowed with an average of 25 per game. The defending ACC Champion Hokies feature defensive ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins who combined for four sacks and twelve tackles last week against Marshall and will be the toughest test of the season for the Tiger’s offensive line.
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Clemson Tigers +7
@Virginia Tech Hokies -7
Over 49.5 (-110)
Under 49.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
Clemson vs. Virginia Tech Pick:
The two teams last met in 2007, when Virginia Tech rolled to a 41-23 victory in Death Valley easily covering the 5.5 point line. The last time the two teams met in Blacksburg in 2006, Tech routed the Tigers 24-7. The under is 7-1 in Clemson’s last eight ACC games and 19-7 in their last twenty six games in October. The under is 9-2 in the Hokies’ last eleven games overall, and 8-2 in their last ten games as a favorite.
Clemson features a dynamic offense that has averaged 37.8 points per game (23rd nationally) and has shown the ability to move the ball through the air with Boyd and Watkins, as well as on the ground with running back Andre Ellington (371 yards rushing, 3 TDs). Virginia Tech features a hard-nosed defensive unit that ranks 4th among FBS teams in total YPG allowed with 231.1 and 6th in scoring defense with 6 points per game allowed. It will be strength –against-strength when their offense goes up against a Hokie defense that has been particularly stingy against the run this season allowing only 43 rushing yards per game (2nd best among all FBS teams). The Clemson offense features more playmakers and more consistent execution than they shown in years under new offensive coordinator Chad Morris, the Tigers have converted 53% (35 of 66) of their third down plays this season including 23 of 35 such chances over their red-hot stretch the last two weeks. Blacksburg is a notoriously tough place to play for visiting teams, and Clemson has a young team that has not been in this situation before but the thinking here is that the young Tigers will rise to the occasion and stay in the game until the very end. It is hard to give 7 points to a Clemson team with so many dynamic athletes that has shown the ability to defeat top completion and score points on anyone. Take the points and Clemson in this one, with the Tigers capable of pulling off the upset and winning the game outright.