Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Clemson has won five straight games since its lone slip-up of the season, but Miami has just one chance to atone for its only mistake. The Tigers and Hurricanes look to stake their final claim to a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff when they square off in the ACC Championship on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C.
Dabo Swinney leads Clemson
Clemson’s national title defense seemingly took a hit with a 27-24 loss at Syracuse on Oct. 13, but the team has climbed back to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings with five straight victories, including a 34-10 rout of rival South Carolina last week. “Four quarters, man,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told reporters. “We’re four quarters away from having a chance to go back to the playoff.” The Hurricanes were in position to do the same before last week’s 24-14 loss at Pittsburgh ruined their bid for a perfect season. Miami slipped to No. 7 in the playoff rankings, meaning even with a win over the Tigers, it might need some help to get into the four-team field.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Clemson -9.5
ABOUT MIAMI (10-1, 7-1 ACC): As everyone knows thanks to their gaudy “turnover chain,” the Hurricanes thrive on takeaways – they have forced 29 turnovers while committing only 12. The defense has been up to virtually every challenge, but the question is whether the offense can bounce back from last week’s sub-par performance. The Hurricanes will be without two of their top three receivers as Ahmmon Richards tore the meniscus in his left knee during practice Wednesday and will need surgery, further depleting a corps that also lost tight end Christopher Herndon IV to a season-ending knee injury against Pitt.
ABOUT CLEMSON (11-1, 7-1): One of the nation’s top defenses did it again last week, holding the Gamecocks to 207 total yards – the seventh time this season the Tigers have allowed fewer than 250, including each of the last three contests. The dominant defense overshadows an offense that ranks in the top 25 nationally in total yards (459 per game) and scoring (35.2 points). Leading rusher Travis Etienne (720 yards, 12 touchdowns) is nursing a leg injury, but even if he’s not 100 percent, the Tigers have plenty of weapons beginning with quarterback Kelly Bryant, who has passed for 2,426 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while rushing for 639 yards and 10 scores.
1. Clemson has won 55 straight games when holding opponents under 23 points, a streak that dates to 2010.
2. Miami QB Malik Rosier has accounted for 30 touchdowns (25 pass, five rush), matching Vinny Testaverde’s school record set during his Heisman Trophy season of 1986.
3. The Tigers have won a school-record 10 straight games against top-25 opponents.