Will Clemson cover the spread?
It’s a question without a “yes” answer so far in 2021. The Tigers are 0-5 against the spread this season entering Friday night’s game at Syracuse. Clemson is favored by 13.5 points in a game with an exceptionally low total (44.5) because of the Tigers’ offensive struggles this season.
Those struggles are a big reason why Clemson has failed to cover and has been playing close games with FBS opponents this season. All four of Clemson’s games against FBS opponents have been decided by one score. The Tigers lost 10-3 to Georgia to open the season, beat Georgia Tech 14-8 in Week 3, lost 27-21 to North Carolina State in Week 4 and then beat Boston College 19-13 in Week 5 ahead of its off week in Week 6.
If Clemson covers, it breaks both streaks. It finally beats a team by two scores this season and it notches its first win against the spread. And bettors don’t seem too confident. The number opened at 14.5 before falling a point.
This is a Syracuse team that famously upset Clemson at home on a Friday night in 2017 when the Tigers’ offense wasn’t the juggernaut it became when Trevor Lawrence arrived. And, more applicably to Friday night, this is also a Syracuse team that was a delay-of-game penalty away from a potential upset of undefeated Wake Forest in Week 6. Syracuse scored a TD with 21 seconds left and set up to go for two before a delay of game forced the Orange into a game-tying extra point. Wake won in overtime.
QB Garrett Shrader said he was sore after the Wake Forest game. Shrader carried the ball 29 times against the Demon Deacons. He’s probably not going to run nearly that many times against a Clemson defense that’s one of the best and most experienced in the country, even if it’s banged up. Star defensive lineman Bryan Bresee is out for the year after tearing his ACL in that N.C. State loss.
If Syracuse pulls the upset, Clemson will be sitting on three losses in a season for the first time since 2014. The Tigers haven’t lost four games in a season since 2011 — Dabo Swinney’s third season with the school. That was also the first year the Tigers won 10 games in Swinney’s tenure — they’ve won 10 or more games in every year since.
That ACC matchup isn’t the only college football game of the night. No. 9 Oregon hosts Cal as a 13.5-point favorite. The total in this game is 54 and Kayvon Thibodeaux will miss the first half after he was penalized for targeting in the second half of the Ducks’ Week 5 loss to Stanford. Oregon will need a good game from QB Anthony Brown if the Ducks are going to cover the number, though Cal has been dreadful so far this season. The Bears are 1-4 and haven’t beaten an FBS team yet.
Marshall heads to North Texas as an 11-point favorite. North Texas is 1-5 — remember when Seth Littrell was a potential Power Five coaching candidate? — and going nowhere fast. The over/under is 66.5 and we’re inclined to take the under there.
No. 24 San Diego State also travels to San Jose State. The Aztecs are favored by nine and the total here is a lowly 41. The over may not be a bad play here, especially if San Jose State QB Nick Starkel is available to play.
ALCS Game 1
The ALCS begins on Friday night between the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros. Click here for our detailed breakdown of the lines available on the game.
Game 1 of the NLCS is on Saturday night as the Dodgers head to Atlanta to take on the Braves after beating the Giants on Thursday night.
European Leagues return
The international break is over and the major European leagues resume competition this weekend. PSG is the first European giant to play as it kicks off Friday against Angers SCO. PSG is -300 to win even though it’s doubtful Lionel Messi will play after he was playing for Argentina.
Can Streb sustain his hot start?
Robert Streb shot an 11-under 61 in the first round of the CJ Cup on Thursday. He’s now tied with Jordan Spieth as the No. 4 favorite at +1400 to win the tournament. Viktor Hovland is the favorite at +900 while Collin Morikawa and Keith Mitchell are at +1100.
Who cashed tickets Thursday?
Dodgers and under bettors had a good night in Los Angeles' 2-1 win over the Giants. And the under survived in Tampa Bay's 6-point win over Philadelphia. The Bucs kneeled with two minutes to go inside the Eagles' 10 to protect a 28-22 lead. That allowed Philly to cover the 7-point spread and under bettors to breathe a sigh of relief.