The Clemson Tigers will take on the Tennessee Volunteers in the Orange Bowl.
Coincidentally, both teams were upset late in the season by South Carolina, costing each of them a trip to the College Football Playoff. Now, both teams enter the game at an intriguing place in their program.
Clemson benched quarterback DJ Uiagalelei in favor of freshman Cade Klubnik in the ACC Championship Game. Clemson went on to win 39-10, their seventh ACC championship in nine years, improving to 11-2 on the year.
Tennessee will also have a new face at quarterback due to the injury to Hendon Hooker and will turn to veteran transfer Joe Milton to lead the team in the Orange Bowl.
Tennessee had CFP dreams after beating Alabama and fell short. Still, the Volunteers finished the regular season 10-2, the first time they’ve reached 10 wins since 2007.
Tennessee vs Clemson Odds for Orange Bowl
As of Tuesday, Dec. 27, Clemson is listed as a 5.5-point favorite over Tennessee at Caesars Sportsbook.
The oddsmakers seem to believe that Tennessee’s offense with Milton will find success, and that Klubnik is ready for prime time, with the Over/Under set at a reasonably high 63.5 points.
Tennessee vs Clemson Prediction for Orange Bowl
Clemson 35, Tennessee 31
This game figures to be an excellent matchup for a bowl game, even with star players on both sides opting out for the draft or missing the game due to injury.
Hendon Hooker missed the final game and a half of the season due to a torn ACL. With Hooker, the Volunteers were the best offense in College Football, but it will be Joe Milton leading the Volunteers’ offense in the Orange Bowl.
Milton has appeared in seven games this season, throwing for 720 yards and seven touchdowns. He is mobile, has a big arm, and has plenty of experience at Michigan and as a backup to Hooker this season.
Tennessee will also be missing wide receiver Cedric Tillman who was injured earlier in the season. He opted out of Orange Bowl for the draft, but Tennessee has avoided opt-outs from other key players thus far.
Clemson’s offense had a ton of ups and downs with DJ Uiagalelei and finished fourth in the ACC in scoring offense. It’s Klubnik’s team going forward, and many believe it should have been months ago.
The five-star freshman was solid in relief earlier in the season, and head coach Dabo Swinney had no choice but to stick with Klubnik after he went 20-for-24 for 279 yards and two TDS — one through the air, one on the ground — in the ACC Championship Game.
The Clemson defense was middle of the pack this season as well, and now they’ll be missing a couple of key pieces. Defensive end Myles Murphy, a projected top-10 pick, has already declared for the NFL draft.
Tennessee may be starting their backup quarterback, but Clemson will still have their hands full against a unique and high-powered offense.
Tennessee vs Clemson Best Bets for Orange Bowl
Over 63.5 Points (-110) at BetMGM Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
The explosiveness of the Tennessee offense is going to put points on the board, even against a stingy Clemson defense.
On the other side, Klubnik is ready for his opportunities on the main stage and should have no problems against a Tennessee defense that, at times, has looked feeble against good offensive teams.
This game will be a back-and-forth high-scoring affair, and the total should sail Over with plenty of room to spare.
Tennessee +5.5 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
WAGER: 1 Unit
Even without Hooker, I think the Tennessee offense is able to put points on the board with Joe Milton.
This offense has been one of the best in the country this year, and Hooker deservedly gets a lot of credit, but I give more credit to the scheme. Tennessee’s up-tempo style and complicated route tree gives defenses too much to think about, and the Tennessee wide receivers take care of the rest.
In his second year, Milton should be plenty familiar with the offense and has plenty of time leading up to the game to practice with the starters.
Tennessee is in the game until the end, and they keep it within a touchdown.