Tennessee vs. Clemson Prediction, Picks & Odds For Orange Bowl (12/30/22)
Tennessee will face Clemson in perhaps the most orange Orange Bowl ever on Friday, but the rosters won’t look exactly like they did during the regular season. With Hendon Hooker, Jalin Hyatt, and D.J. Uiagalalei all out of the picture for different reasons, the game might play out much differently than fans would’ve expected a few months ago.
Tennessee Vs. Clemson predictions, betting picks and odds for the Orange Bowl.
Tennessee vs. Clemson Odds
Clemson enters as a 5.5-point favorite, sitting at -210 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 63.5 points.
This line is obviously not what it would’ve been during the regular season, when Hendon Hooker had Tennessee playing like a national title contender, but there are multiple factors at play here: Hooker is injured, his top receivers have both opted-out, and new Clemson QB Cade Klubnik looks like he could be a significant upgrade over D.J. Uiagalelei. Is that enough to roll with Clemson -5.5?
Tennessee vs. Clemson Prediction & Pick
I’m not all out on Tennessee just yet, even without some great offensive weapons. Joe Milton’s play in Hooker’s absence has indicated just how impactful Josh Heupel’s system is to the Vols’ success, and while the absences of Hyatt and Cedric Tillman will be blows to the offense, Milton has enough experience in the system to have an efficient day throwing to the talented Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton.
Clemson’s defense will be a challenge, but it’s not anything Tennessee hasn’t already run into in the SEC. The unit is also missing its top NFL talent.
Cade Klubnik has an impressive arm and gives Clemson a great chance to win this game. Between an improved passing game and the presence of Will Shipley in the backfield, the Tigers should score points. I think Tennessee has enough in the tank offensively to at least keep up and play a close game. Vols +5.5 is my pick.
Prediction: Tennessee Spread
Tennessee vs. Clemson Key Matchups
Tennessee’s offense was one of the most prolific in the nation this season, but what’s left? Joe Milton, who looked good in his brief time as Hooker’s absence (7 TD, 0 INT), will start at quarterback. Josh Heupel’s system is certainly part of the Vols’ success, and that’s not going away.
The losses of Hyatt and Tillman are admittedly a big deall for the offense. Tennessee survived Tillman’s injury to beat Alabama, but Hyatt’s huge performance was the biggest reason why. McCoy and Keyton will have to step up with those two out. McCoy has shown some serious flashes and will be a lead target in 2023, so this is a big opportunity for him.
Clemson’s pass defense is somewhat middle of the road compared to its run defense, so a pass-heavy Tennessee offense is set up fairly well even if it’s missing so many key pieces. Projected first-round edge rusher Myles Murphy will also be missing after opting out.
Clemson rarely looked the part this season, finally losing to Notre Dame and South Carolina in November, but how much has changed with Klubnik at quarterback? Klubnik looked genuinely impressive against a very shaky North Carolina defense after replacing Uiagalalei in the ACC title game, and it’s clear Dabo Swinney might’ve cost Clemson a playoff berth by refusing to make a quarterback switch earlier in the season.
On one hand, that’s not enough of a sample size to say Klubnik is going to lift the Tigers to an Orange Bowl victory, but he’s not exactly going up against a lights-out defense. Tennessee allowed 284 passing yards per game, ahead of only Vanderbilt among all power-five teams.
The Vols’ run defense was well above average, however, so limiting Shipley and the running game while putting pressure on the inexperienced Klubnik to win the game with his arm may be the best strategy. Outside of Shipley, there aren’t many intimidating weapons on Clemson’s offense.