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The quarterbacks who started most of the season for both squads are out, and opt-outs/injuries/transfers have wreaked havoc on this game.

Still, our models show the safe play being taking Tennessee and the points, and two of those templates showed enough to qualify this as the fourth of our five Wrong Team Favored bowls.

Clemson vs. Tennessee Betting Lines: Point Spread, Total, Moneyline

Here are current lines from top US sportsbook apps for Friday’s Orange Bowl.

TENN Tennessee vs CLEM Clemson Odds NCAAF Odds

NCAAF · Fri (12/30) @ 8:11pm ET

TENN Tennessee at CLEM Clemson
Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

Up to $1,000 risk-free bet at BetMGM

No. 10 Clemson Tigers (11-2, 7-6 Against the Spread)

DJ Uiagalelei started behind center all season. When he faltered in the ACC title game against North Carolina, true freshman Cade Klubnik was given a shot.

And that’s all it took for DJ to bolt. The instant something disagreeable occurs, this generation grabs the free ticket to ride in the transfer portal to pastures that are surely greener, right? Many are multiple shuttle riders.

Grow a spine.

Enough commentary. Klubnik went 20-for-24 for 279 yards and a touchdown in that odd 39-10 victory over the Tar Heels.

Odd because 6-foot-5, 216-pound redshirt freshman Drake Maye had put together an incredible season at Carolina, with 4,115 passing yards (No. 3 in the country), 35 TDs, and 7 interceptions.

Orange Bowl Odds & Prediction: Take the Points on Clemson vs. Tennessee
Take the points on Clemson vs. Tennessee in our Orange Bowl odds and prediction. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Maye, though, threw no TD passes against Clemson, and two were picked off. Freshman cornerback Jeadyn Lukus nabbed one, and sophomore corner Nate Wiggins caught the other one, running it back 98 yards for a score.

There are many other absences at Clemson. On offense, Klubnik will reportedly not have the services of receivers Joseph Ngata or Antonio Williams, who combined for 86 catches and six TDs this season.

On defense, the Tigers’ No. 2 tackler, Trenton Simpson, opted out and is earmarked as a top-three inside backer selection in the NFL Draft. Edge rusher Myles Murphy, a probable top-five overall draft pick, also won’t play.

They will be sorely missed.

No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers (10-2, 9-3 ATS)

The fabulous Hendon Hooker, who started his career at Virginia Tech, tore a knee ligament in November at South Carolina, and Joe Milton tossed a TD in mop-up duty in the Vols’ ugly 63-38 defeat.

Milton, the 6-5, 244-pound fifth-year senior whose career fizzled at Michigan, completed only 11 passes in the finale at Vandy, but one went for a TD in the Vols’ 56-0 rout.

They punished the Commodores with 362 ground yards, 160 by Jaylen Wright (including two TDs) and 131 by Dylan Sampson (with a scoring run). Jabari Smith chipped in with 79 yards and two TDs.

Milton and that rush attack are expected to get the services of outstanding tackle Darnell Wright, who has declared for the draft but supposedly plans to play for the oranges.

However, Milton will definitely miss receivers Jalin Hyatt (67 catches, 1,267 yards, 15 TDs) and Cedric Tillman (37, 417, 3).

When Milton throws, bank on sophomore Bru McCoy (48, 619, 3) being the main target. Mostly, though, expect the Tigers to be dealt a healthy dose of Wright, Sampson, and Smith on the ground.

Offensive coordinator Alex Golesh, a 38-year-old native of Moscow, Russia, has zipped to South Florida to take his first head-coaching gig.

That leaves these play-calling duties to Vols head coach Josh Heupel, whose simple plan will be predicated on the ground game.

At home, Clemson had the country’s best rush defense during the season, allowing a paltry 66 yards a game. On the highway, however, that slipped to 132, just outside the top quarter of the nation.

Orange Bowl Prediction

In our three previous Wrong Team Favored bowls, we are 3-0 (as underdogs Air Force, New Mexico State, and Buffalo all won outright). Tennessee qualified as our fourth such selection.

This should be the Banana Bowl, with all the questions on both sides. Still, we will stick with our projections and templates and recommend Tennessee via its strong runners, plus the points, plus a nibble on the Vols’ moneyline.

As usual, we recommend half-unit action due to the typical zaniness of bowl games, whose layoffs alone make them dicey. Toss in motivation, opt-outs, and Kleenex-wielding kids as they head to the Portal, and question marks abound. Play these safely and soundly.

Pick: Vols +5.5 (-110)

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About the Author
Rob Miech

Rob Miech

Rob Miech is a sports betting writer at Gaming Today who covers soccer and specializes in features content. He has written about college hoops for the Las Vegas Sun, CBS SportsLine and the Pasadena Star-News. Miech is the author of four books, including Sports Betting for Winners.

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