When the opening line dropped for this week's Clemson-Boston College game, some jaws probably hit the floor as well.
The No. 25 Tigers, despite a 2-2 overall record, are a 15.5-point favorite over a 4-0 Eagles squad coming to Memorial Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Clemson couldn't win, much less cover, as a 9.5-point favorite last week on the road at NC State, so why are oddsmakers putting so much faith in a team that is struggling to even score 16 points?
It might say more about Boston College, and Clemson's defense, rather than the Tigers' lack of explosiveness on offense. But there's no denying that Clemson, ranked 121st nationally in yards per game, is struggling to score. It got to 14 points in regulation last week at NC State, needing overtime to reach three scores in a 27-21 loss. The week before, they had just two touchdowns against Georgia Tech.
However, the Tigers can play defense. ESPN's SP+ ranks the Tigers second nationally in the defensive metric, only behind Georgia. Against N.C. State, Clemson gave up its first touchdown of the season, and the defense wore down after being on the field for over 40 minutes, but this is still a top-notch unit that BC could struggle moving the ball against.
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After all, the Eagles are without star quarterback Phil Jurkovec, who's out with a hand injury. Backup Dennis Grosel is not nearly as prolific a passer. He's averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt this season. In an overtime win over Missouri, he dropped to 6 yards per throw.
The Eagles will rely heavily on a run game that's producing 5.3 yards per carry, which ranks second in the ACC, and is the most efficient aspect of that side of the ball. The defense has limited opponents to 4.8 yards per play, but Mizzou is the only game against Power 5.
Clemson has yet to cover a single spread this season while BC is 3-1 against the spread. Three of the Tigers' four games have gone under the total, which is set at 47.5 for Saturday's game.
Clemson, which is .500 ATS in the last 10 meetings with the Eagles, is also -800 on the moneyline, while a pick of Boston College to win straight up pays nearly 6-to-1 odds. This game will be one to watch in terms of how it's treated in the betting market.
It feels like way too many points early in the week for a struggling Clemson offense to cover, but oddsmakers aren't typically off at the end of the day. Whether or not they can get enough action on the Tigers will say a lot about how others feel when it comes to this team.
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