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Odds and Ends: Is Betting Market Telling Who to Pick in Clemson-Wake Forest Showdown?

Line movement is favoring Clemson in Saturday's huge noon ACC game with Wake Forest.

The betting market can be very telling sometimes. 

It's worth following because while it's not an exact predictor, it can lead you to who will win an important football game. Case in point, Wake Forest vs. Clemson, which is set for noon Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The Tigers, who are just 2-8 against the spread this season, opened as a 3.5-point favorite over the No. 10 Demon Deacons

That seemed odd, right? An unranked team gets the oddsmakers' attention against a team that is undefeated in conference play and can book a ticket to the ACC title game with a win. 

To make it even more perplexing, the line has actually moved in Clemson's favor. The Tigers are now listed at -4.5 on SI Sportsbook. That's a full point more than earlier this week. That means the money and tickets are flowing in on Clemson. 

Do the bettors, pros and joes, know something others don't? Is Memorial Stadium, where many ACC competitors' hopes die, a huge factor? Maybe it's a lean toward Clemson's superb defense matching up against Wake's high-scoring attack. 

Whatever the reason, signs point to picking Clemson to win this game straight up. But that's banking on quite a few things happening. For starters, the Tigers have to hold the Deacs under their season average of 44.7 points per game, which ranks second nationally. 

Clemson is giving up 15.3 points per contest, third in the country. The Tigers will need to take away Wake's slow mesh run play, something Brent Venables has done well the last few years, defend the middle of the field, win 50-50 balls and get pressure on stellar quarterback Sam Hartman. 

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Offensively, Clemson can't get into a shootout. It won't win that. With a total offense that ranks 107th nationally, the Tigers need to run the football. They're 70-1 when rushing for 200 yards under head coach Dabo Swinney. Wake's allowing over 200 yards per game on the ground. 

But the Deacs are going to stack the box regardless and force Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, who's banged up, to beat them with his arm, something he's struggled to do this year. Will Clemson stick with the run against a defense with numbers or will the Tigers take chances on the outside Wake dares them to hit? 

As trustworthy as Clemson's defense is, the offense is the opposite, but you're going to have to put some faith in that group. It does help that running backs Kobe Pace and Will Shipley and offensive lineman Will Putnam are all available. However, the overall health of the Tigers is a huge question mark against a top-10 team. 

If you'd rather take a chance on the total, the over/under on FanDuel Sportsbook is 57.5 points. 

Betting picks

Spread: Wake Forest

Total: Under

Best bet (5-5): We got back on the winning side of things with an easy over 29.5 points last week in the first half of the UConn game, thanks to the Huskies returning the opening kickoff to set the tone. This week, under 57.5 points is the best play. This isn't going to be a shootout, not that you have to have one to hit the over, but this will be a tense game, and it's going to take both teams some time to get going. It might be a sweat late, but a sluggish first half should lead to a win nonetheless. 

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