The Clemson Tigers won the ACC Championship Game last season and reached the College Football Playoff. They were the last team in the country without a loss. The Tigers knocked off Oklahoma in the national semifinal but then came up just short of beating favored Alabama in the national title game despite the brilliance of Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson. Clemson is among the favorites on NCAA football odds to win the coming season’s title and Watson is the clear favorite to take home the Heisman. The Tigers open the season with a terrific matchup at Auburn on Sept. 3 on ESPN. Clemson has opened as an 8-point favorite.
Tigers’ Clash at Non-Conference College Football Betting Clemson vs. Auburn
No team was perhaps more disappointing than Auburn last season as the Tigers were a Top-10 team in the preseason polls. After being anointed in the preseason as a favorite to win the SEC and a contender for the College Football Playoff, the Tigers finished with a 7-6 (2-6 SEC) record and would up in last place in the SEC West. New coordinator Will Muschamp was hired to fix the defense but it was second-to-last in the SEC and Muschamp was hired this off season as South Carolina’s head coach. Auburn was likely to fire him.
The big question for Auburn entering the season is at quarterback. Jeremy Johnson and Sean White shard the role last year although both had their struggles. Neither quarterback had a stellar season, combining for 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while rushing for a combined 172 yards. Johnson mostly did what was asked of him down the stretch last season, with eight total touchdowns (five passing, three rushing) and one interception in the final five games including two scores in the Birmingham Bowl. John Franklin III, the touted junior college transfer who began his career at Florida State, now joins the fray.
Clemson has no such quarterback worries with the dynamic Deshaun Watson back and he is an early candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Watson, an elusive, dynamic run-pass threat with a big arm, finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting and became the first FBS player ever to pass for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. Star running back Wayne Gallman also returns. The Clemson offense will be dynamic, but the defense lost a ton of talent to the NFL, led by ends Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd and cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Just four starters are back on that side of the ball.
Auburn is the only team in the country scheduled to face the two participants in the national championship — and do so with Clemson and Alabama serving as bookends on the schedule. Clemson has won 39 straight games against unranked opponents, a stretch that Auburn will try to break on the 1,749th day of that streak, which is the second-best such total in the country (Alabama is No. 1).
Auburn leads the all-time series 34-13-2. The teams last played to open the 2012 season and Clemson won 26-19 in Atlanta. DeAndre Hopkins set a school record with 13 receptions and Andre Ellington rushed for 231 yards. They are both in the NFL now. Clemson finished with 320 yards rushing and 528 yards overall.
My Expert Betting Prediction
The first game of the season is always the toughest to handicap on NCAA football odds, but I’d take the points here simply because Auburn is at home. Clemson will win, but by a touchdown.