Clemson will start the 2020 NCAA football season as the top-ranked BCS team and will resume a trend of 18 straight games as a double-digit home favorite.
But are they a good bet based on recent performance and based on their current personnel?
Not since hosting Auburn Sept. 9, 2017 – when they were favored by just six points – have the Tigers been a ‘small’ home favorite. Every other game ranged from -14 to -50.5 (against FBS Furman). But they covered the spread only half the time, leading college football bettors to dig a little deeper into the stats before digging deeper into their wallets.
Will Clemson cover the spread in 2020?
The Tigers will be led by top Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence. The program’s leading all-time rusher, RB Travis Etienne, also plans to return. They should dominate the ACC again, where they are 17-3 ATS within the conference, often facing monster point spreads.
Their lone ATS slip up in 2019 was a 21-20 squeaker at UNC, where they were favored by 21.5 points. And Clemson has been known for slip-ups in years past, losing at Syracuse in 2017 as 23.5-point chalk and also at home to Pitt a year earlier as 21.5-point chalk.
This current version of the team has handled big spreads with ease.
Can LSU repeat? Are the Tigers a good bet?
The LSU Tigers won the national title a year ago, handling Clemson in the BCS title game on their way to a 15-0 season. They will open the season ranked No. 4 in the country, after watching QB Joe Burrows go No. 1 in the draft to Cincinnati.
You can expect to see some huge point spreads in 2020, but beware the really large ones. Since 2015, LSU has been favored by 30 or more points six times. Their ATS record? 0-6.
On the flip side, they were an underdog just once (to Alabama) and won outright 46-41. Playing in the vicious SEC means they may be underdogs again and the Tigers bite hard in this role. Since 2017, they are 7-2 ATS in nine games as dogs.
And if LSU makes the post-season, they have been perfect as chalk recently. They are 5-0 SU and ATS as a post-season favorite.
Can Buckeyes continue underdog trend?
Ohio State is ranked second and coming off a 13-1 season with a lone loss to Clemson. The Buckeyes were small 2.5-point underdogs in that game, just the second time in five seasons they were underdogs. The loss ended a streak of seven games dating to the 2012 season when they won outright everytime they were underdogs.
Looking further back in the college football trends database, you find that Ohio State is 15-3 ATS as an underdog since 2009. But how many times realistically will they get points in 2020? Maybe none, but depending on how Michigan, Michigan State or Penn State evolve, its possible. If it happens, think back to this Ohio State underdog trend.