By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
All lines listed are as of publishing date. As always lines may change in the lead up to games so be sure to check.
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
#3 Ohio State vs. #2 Clemson
Spread: Ohio State -3
Spread: The second of the two semifinal games to be played features two dynamic QBs with a multitude of weapons. However, the two quarterbacks attack in very different ways. For Ohio State, JT Barrett has become more of a run-first quarterback in Urban Meyer’s system as his accuracy has dropped this year for the second straight year to 61.8-percent. While his passing numbers have dropped, his rushing attempts have gone up while his rushing yards and yards per carry have gone down. Barrett has workhorse back Mike Weber behind him and versatile do-everything weapon Curtis Samuel who has more than 700 yards rushing and receiving with a combined 15 TDs. The problem for the Buckeyes offense is the pressure that Clemson can get with its front four. The Tigers are third in FBS with 46 sacks while Ohio State has allowed an average of two sacks per game and gave up 7.5 sacks to Michigan in the final game of the season. Clemson has experience stopping a running quarterback too. They shut down Lamar Jackson in the first half of their game by forcing Jackson to hand the ball to his backs. If they can maintain that discipline for the full game, it could be tough sledding for the Buckeyes.
For Clemson, the offense runs through, as it has for three years now, Deshaun Watson. The junior QB didn’t have as prolific a season as he did last year in leading the Tigers to the brink of a championship. But, he was still pretty special, throwing for 3,914 yards and 37 TDs while adding 524 yards and six TDs on the ground. His problem has been inaccuracy and turnovers. He’s thrown 15 picks this season and the Buckeyes thrive on creating turnovers with 25 on the season – 19 of those being interceptions. The biggest key for Clemson will be Wayne Gallman. When Gallman gets rolling, the Tigers offense does as well. He’s been banged up this season, but should be healthy for this one. This is a tough one for me, but I think Clemson has some unfinished business from last year. The defense, coordinated by Broyles Award winner Brent Venables, does enough to get the Tigers the W. Clemson +3
Total: Because of how strong these two defenses are, I’m inclined to think that an average of 30 points per side is too high. I’d like to see a shootout from a pure entertainment standpoint, but I don’t think we get one. Under 60.
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.