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ACC Big Game Breakdown: Clemson at Pittsburgh

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One of the most intriguing matchups on college football’s Week 8 board has the Clemson Tigers traveling north to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. Clemson is coming into this game with a 4-2 record, which is disappointing by their lofty standards. Pitt has put together an impressive 5-1 record and is currently ranked 23rd in the nation (ESPN).

The Panthers are currently a three-point favorite at most online sportsbooks so this could be a tight ballgame. Here’s a closer look at each team as well as a Best Bet for this all-important ACC clash.

Clemson Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense

One of the most shocking stories of the 2021 college football season has been the sharp decline of the Clemson offense. QB DJ Uiagalelei has a boatload of talent but has not looked comfortable at all this season. The 6-4 250 pound sophomore has thrown four touchdowns but only ranks 104th in the nation in QBR (quarterback rating). 

Kobe Pace has been the Tigers’ best running back, as he has run for 294 yards and three scores so far. The Clemson offensive line has been struggling to open up holes for Pace and the other running backs. The Tigers are only averaging 3.9 yards per rush, which ranks 77th in the country.

The Pitt defense has improved quite a bit in recent weeks after performing poorly earlier in the season. The Panthers’ front seven is one of the best in college football against the run, as they only give up 3.0 yards per rush (9th in the nation). This defense also does a great job of getting pressure on the QB, as they register a sack on nearly 10% of plays (11th).

Pittsburgh Offense vs. Clemson Defense

Pitt QB Kenny Pickett has quietly played himself into the Heisman conversation. The 6-3 220 pound senior has thrown for 1,934 yards and 21 TDs. He ranks second in the nation in QBR.

Pickett’s favorite target is wide receiver Jordan Addison, who has 586 receiving yards and 9 TDs. The offense averages 8.9 yards per pass which ranks 17th in the country. Like Clemson, Pitt also struggles to run the ball effectively, as they only average 4.0 yards per carry.

Though their offense has been atrocious, Clemson’s defense is still elite. This unit is only allowing 12.5 points per game, which is second only to Georgia. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is great at creating disruptive game plans and he’ll have several different schemes in place to try and confuse Pickett.

Our Pick: Pitt-3

Oh my, how things have changed. Back in the summer, Clemson was favored over Pitt by 17 points for this ACC battle. Few people would have thought that Pitt would end up being favored by the time this game rolled around on the schedule.

We have to take Pitt as our Best Bet in this game, especially since they are at home. Clemson’s defense is really tough but they won’t be able to hold down Pickett for a full four quarters. We also don’t think Clemson’s offense will be able to sustain any momentum against a pretty stout Pitt defense. Lay the small number with Pitt. Good luck! 

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