Pittsburgh vs No. 3 Clemson

Pittsburgh vs No. 3 Clemson Preview | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Written by on November 27, 2020

In a bit of a surprise, one-loss Clemson wasn’t fourth in the first College Football Playoff rankings out earlier this week but third. The Tigers can take another step toward a spot in the ACC title game by taking care of visiting Pittsburgh on Saturday with Clemson a huge favorite on the NCAAF lines.

How to Bet Pittsburgh at Clemson NCAA Football Odds & TV Info

  • When: Saturday, 3:30 PM ET
  • Where: Memorial Stadium
  • TV: ESPN
  • Stream: ESPN app
  • Radio:com
  • Opening NCAAF Lines: Clemson -24 (total 55)

Last Meeting

Pittsburgh and Clemson are in difference ACC divisions (no divisions in 2020) and thus don’t play annually. They last did in the 2018 ACC title game and Clemson rolled 42-10. Travis Etienne ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and Trevor Lawrence threw two short scoring passes to Tee Higgins. Etienne and Lawrence are of course still starring for the Tigers. Higgins is a rookie with the Bengals. The Clemson defense forced three turnovers, including two in the first half that gave the offense the ball inside the Pitt 10 and led to 14 points. The Tigers limited Panthers quarterback Kenny Pickett to 8 yards passing and had nine tackles for a loss, including two sacks.

Pitt leads the all-time series 2-1.

Why Bet on Pittsburgh? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Pittsburgh (5-4) played its home finale last week and upset Virginia Tech 47-41. Senior quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 404 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another in his final start at Heinz Field. The Panthers were missing 16 players due to COVID-19 protocols, a group that included leading receiver Jordan Addison and three starting offensive linemen.

Pickett completed 35 of 52 passes as Pitt won its second straight following a four-game losing streak. Graduate transfer DJ Turner caught 15 passes — one shy of the school’s single-game record — for 184 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown in the third quarter just four plays after the Panthers stuffed Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker at the goal line. Turner’s long catch-and-run pushed Pitt’s lead to 33-14.

Pickett now has eight 300-yard passing games and two 400-yard games for his career. Pickett also has 8,149 total offensive yards for his career. He is only the fifth player in Pitt history to reach 8,000 yards of total offense.

Since 2015, Pat Narduzzi has directed Pitt to 28 victories in ACC play, the third-highest win total during that span (tied with Virginia Tech). The Panthers trail only Clemson (44) and Miami (31). Pitt leads the country in total tackles for loss (97) and tackles for loss per game (10.8). Linebacker SirVocea Dennis paces the ACC and ranks third nationally with 13.5 TFLs.

The Panthers are looking for their first win over an opponent ranked in the Top 5 since Nov. 24, 2017, when then-freshman QB Pickett led a 24-14 victory over No. 2 Miami at Heinz Field.

Why Bet on Clemson? | 2020 NCAAF Expert Analysis

Clemson has won a school-record 27 consecutive games at home, the longest active streak in the nation. The Tigers have not been defeated at Memorial Stadium since a 43-42 loss to Pitt on Nov. 12, 2016.

The Tigers (7-1) were supposed to visit Florida State last Saturday but the Noles called it off shortly before game time when learning a Clemson player had tested positive for the virus. That incensed Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, who has said the FSU administration simply didn’t want to see their team get crushed.

“This game was not canceled because of COVID,” Swinney said. “COVID was just an excuse to cancel the game. I have no doubt their players wanted to play and would have played. And same with the coaches. To me, the Florida State administration forfeited the game.”

According to FSU, Clemson informed the school of a symptomatic player who had participated in practices and traveled with the team. Clemson noted that proper protocols were followed regarding masks and social distancing, and said the player was kept isolated during travel. Clemson offered to retest players and staff and delay the game by a day or two, but FSU declined.

The 21-day layoff is Clemson’s longest between regular season games in a single season since 1918, when Clemson went 28 days between games against Georgia Tech and South Carolina.

With a win Saturday, Clemson’s senior class can become the first Clemson class ever to go undefeated in Death Valley since the facility’s opening in 1942 and can become the first FBS senior class to post a perfect career record at home since the 2010 Boise State (26-0) and Oklahoma (25-0) seniors.

Even though eligibility-wise he is a junior, Tigers star QB Trevor Lawrence is an academic senior and among those eligible to be honored on Senior Day. In his long-awaited return on Saturday, he will attempt to tie the school record with his 32nd career win as Clemson’s starting quarterback.

Lawrence (97) needs three more combined rushing and passing touchdowns to join Tajh Boyd (133), Lamar Jackson (119), Deshaun Watson (116) and Philip Rivers (112) as the only players in ACC history to be responsible for 100 career touchdowns.

Tigers RB Travis Etienne (74) needs two touchdowns of any kind to pass Texas’ Ricky Williams (75) for the fifth-most career total touchdowns of any FBS player since 1956. Etienne (4,672 rushing yards and 1,058 receiving yards) needs 328 more rushing yards to join Donnel Pumphrey as the only players in FBS history to record 5,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards.

Game Trends

  • Panthers are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 games overall.
  • Panthers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
  • Panthers are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 conference games.
  • Tigers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games overall.
  • Tigers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.

Expert College Football Prediction

Clemson 44, Pittsburgh 13


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