Every year, you assume dominance for Clemson. From 2016 to 2020, they had lost three conference games and won two national championships.
However, Clemson has struggled in 2021. You might shrug off an opening week loss to Georgia, a team with national championship aspirations. But then Clemson looked bad against Georgia Tech before losing to North Carolina State last week.
The problems are on offense. QB DJ Uiagalelei showed promise in taking over for Trevor Lawrence in two games last season. But he has yet to throw for 200 yards in a game this season.
This performance does require context though, as he has faced tough defenses. Here are my pass defense rankings for Clemson’s three FBS opponents; these numbers come from success rate adjusted for schedule with the algorithms that I developed from my PhD research:
- Georgia – 1st
- North Carolina State – 9th
- Georgia Tech – 26th
Clemson’s pass offense has a raw success rate of 34.6% (college football average of 39.6%), which ranks 114th in the nation. After adjustments for strength of schedule, Clemson ranks a more respectable 54th. And the opposition gets easier this week as you’ll soon see.
On defense, Clemson has been stellar, as they rank 3rd in my adjusted success rate. They will miss stud DT Bryan Bresee, who is out the rest of the season with a knee injury, but they still have a load of talent on defense.
Jeff Hafley took over as Boston College’s head coach in 2020 after an amazing year as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator in 2019. However, he has yet to bring that defensive magic to his new job.
Last season, Boston College had a strong offense with QB Phil Jurkovec while the defense struggled. The entire secondary returned for 2021, but Boston College has still struggled on this side of the ball. Their defense ranks 92nd overall in my adjusted success rate and 110th in passing.
To put the defense in perspective, Massachusetts scored 28 points and racked up 335 yards on Boston College. Massachusetts has the 116th ranked offense by my adjusted success rate.
On offense, Jurkovec is hurt, which further dampens the prospects for BC. Dennis Grosel takes over at QB.
As professional bettor Preston Johnson mentioned on Last Word Cheetah this week, this is a great buy low spot for Clemson. My primary model has Clemson by 18.4 points at home.
I’m also fascinated with the results of a different model based on adjusted metrics from only this season. Even with the struggles of Clemson in 2021, this model favors Clemson by 17.4 points.
Both of these models suggest value in Clemson -14.5 at home against Boston College.
Football betting with a PhD edge
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