Game Preview: ACC Football Championship
Host Jeremy Ganes and analysts Caleb Schweiger and Josh Portney take an inside look at each of the biggest conference championship games in college football this weekend.
The Clemson Tigers made it to the parade made for them again this year, as they look to win their fifth straight ACC Championship when they play the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Undefeated and ranked No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings, Clemson is favored to win by more than 28 points and clinch a playoff berth. With Trevor Lawrence at quarterback and Isaiah Simmons on the defense, that’s definitely a safe bet.
Clemson has the third-highest-producing offense in the country, averaging over 540 yards per game with 70 total touchdowns this season. Lawrence, the leader of this explosive offense, has completed nearly 69% of his passes and has thrown 30 touchdowns. Lawrence has some amazing options to throw to and a nice running back group to hand it off to as well. Wide receiver Tee Higgins has caught 43 passes for 900 total receiving yards, while star running back Travis Etienne has rushed for 1,386 yards on 168 carries.
The other side of the ball is almost as intimidating as the offense. The Clemson defense has sacked opponents 35 times this season and has picked off opponents 14 times. The Tigers have let up just 10 points per game on average.
Isaiah Simmons, the Tigers’ star linebacker, has been lights-out on defense. He’s had 84 total tackles and six sacks for a total loss of 41 yards. He’s joined by safety Tanner Muse, who has recorded four interceptions and 45 tackles this season.
As for the opposition, the Virginia Cavaliers are led by Bryce Perkins, who has nearly 3,000 passing yards on the season with a 64% completion rate. He is also a threat on the ground, having rushed for more than 680 yards.
Virginia is dominant in the passing game, with 3,142 total offensive yards coming from the receiving team. Wide receivers Hasise Dubois, Terrell Jana and Joe Reed all have more than 625 receiving yards.
Both teams come into this game after a rivalry win. The Tigers handily defeated South Carolina 38-3, while the Cavaliers earned a hard-fought home win in Charlottesville over Virginia Tech.
This may be the best team that the Cavaliers have fielded in a while, but they’re just no match for the Tigers. Expect Virginia to come racing out of the gate before Clemson will dominates the majority of the game and wins. The Tigers are well on their way fifth-straight appearance in the College Football Playoff.
Prediction: Clemson 45, Virginia 17
Josh Portney is a freshman studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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