No. 3 Clemson at Virginia Tech Betting Preview

Saturday, December 5, 2020, Lane Stadium, Blacksburg, Virginia, 7:30 p.m. ET

Tigers at Hokies Betting Preview: Tigers (-21.5), Hokies (+21.5)

Clemson Tigers Betting Preview

No. 3 Clemson (8-1, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) will have an opportunity to clinch a spot in the conference title game and a likely rematch with No. 2 Notre Dame with a win over the Hokies in Blacksburg, Va.

The Tigers got Trevor Lawrence back at quarterback in time to lead them to a 52-17 rout of Pittsburgh last week. Lawrence showed no effects from a COVID-19 enforced layoff in his first game back since October 24, passing for 403 yards and two touchdowns. He had missed the double-overtime loss at Notre Dame.

He has the respect and admiration of Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente.

“Every now and again you come up against a guy where you say there’s really nothing this guy can’t do, Fuente said. “When you look at Trevor and what he’s been able to accomplish — the efficiency of his play, his ability to run the ball basically when they need him to but deliver the ball down the field and run the offense … and by all indications he seems to be a great leader as well.

“He’s probably going to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, and deservedly so. I can’t imagine a more talented guy with a higher ceiling than what his potential is moving forward.”

Despite his team’s role as a heavy favorite, Fuente’s counterpart, Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, is taking nothing for granted.

“We’ve got a big challenge this week going up to Blacksburg, and this will be a different type of challenge than what we’ve seen — night game, Blacksburg, the weather, snow, rain, you name it,” Swinney said. “To me that’s a great challenge.

“Fans may be quick to look at a record and be quick to judge somebody, but that’s not what we do as coaches.”

Virginia Tech Hokies Betting Preview

A season that began with a promising, 4-2 start has deteriorated into a season that is well beyond compare for Fuente.

The Hokies (4-5, 4-4 ACC) have had games postponed, have lost two games by a total of four points, battled through COVID-19 outbreaks, had player defections, and carry a three-game losing streak into Saturday night’s game. 

“You can’t compare anything to this season,” Fuente said. “This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever been through — and I don’t mean bad. I just mean you can’t make this stuff up.

“We lost two heartbreaking football games back to back, at home, that were brutal, absolutely brutal in the midst of all this other stuff. I don’t see any parallels between this season and anything else we’ve ever done.”

The Hokies lost 38-35 to Liberty and 25-24 to Miami before losing 47-14 to Pittsburgh their last outing November 21.

A bright spot for the Hokies has been the play of quarterback Hendon Hooker. Hooker has rushed for an average of 89.6 yards and passed for 190.3 a game. He has rushed for nine touchdowns and also passed for nine.

He definitely has the attention of Clemson’s Swinney.

“It’s option football in a nutshell, but with a guy who can throw the ball really, really well and with a lot of eye candy to go with it,” Swinney said. “You name it, they’ve got it. But it all starts with running the football.”

Running back Khalil Herbert has 924 yards rushing, 178 yards receiving, and 408 returning kickoffs for the Hokies. The Hokies are tied for third nationally among Power 5 teams with 24 rushing touchdowns. Clemson has allowed an ACC-low six rushing touchdowns.

“He’s an excellent player who plays with vision and instincts,” Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said of Herbert. “He’s got a great burst. He’s hard to get down, gets a lot of yards after contact.”

The Hokies lead the ACC in rushing offense with an average of 251 yards per game. Clemson’s rush defense is third in the league, allowing 102.6 yards per game. The Tigers held Pitt to 16 yards on the ground last week.

Tigers at Hokies Betting Pick for December 5, 2020

The Tigers have a five-game winning streak in the series, but the two teams have not met since their 31-17 win over the Hokies in 2017 in Blacksburg. Before the Tigers’ started their streak, the Hokies had a five-game winning streak of their own against the Hokies. Twice they have met in the ACC title game with the Tigers winning 38-10 in 2011 and 42-35 n 2016.

Tigers at Hokies Betting Pick:

Tigers 48, Hokies 24

Tigers at Hokies Best Bet for December 5, 2020

The Tigers showed no rust in ending a 21-day gap between games with a 52-17 win over Pittsburgh last week. The Hokies have lost three in a row since a 42-35 win over Louisville on October 31 and lost to Pittsburgh 47-14 on November 14 in their last outing.

Tigers at Hokies Best Bet: OVER 66.5