According to opening lines released Sunday, Clemson is the betting favorite against North Carolina going into next Saturday’s ACC Football Championship game.
Clemson opened as a seven-point favorite against UNC, according to the VegasInsider consensus line, which considers multiple sportsbooks.
Clemson, the ACC Atlantic Division champion, goes into the title game after a 31-30 home loss to rivals South Carolina on Saturday that dropped the team to 10-2 and put coach Dabo Swinney’s program out of the game for the second straight season Contest for the College Football Playoffs eliminated season.
The Tigers, who finished the ACC 8-0, were 14-point favorites at home going into their annual rivalry game. But they pulled off a seven-game win streak against USC, as well as an ACC-record streak of 40 home wins with their one-point loss to the Gamecocks, who are 8-4 in coach Shane Beamer’s sophomore season.
UNC, the ACC Coastal Division champions, also go into the title game on a downtrend. The Tar Heels lost 30-27 at home to NC State in double overtime on Friday. That loss marked the second straight home loss to an unranked conference opponent after Georgia Tech defeated them last week.
UNC is now 9-3 and 6-2 in the ACC.
Clemson and North Carolina fell to 10th and 24th, respectively, in Sunday’s AP Top 25 poll. The teams will also see a significant drop in Tuesday’s updated CFP Top 25 rankings following their losses (Clemson was No. 8 and UNC was No. 17 in last week’s ranking).
The Tigers and Tar Heels’ respective battles have resulted in a unique ACC championship game. According to research by ESPN’s David HaleThis is the first time since 2012 that both participants in a Power Five conference championship game have lost.
The final example: the 2012 ACC Championship Game, which pitted Florida State and Georgia Tech against each other after losing to Florida and Georgia, respectively, in their regular-season finals.
Clemson is 38-19-1 all-time against UNC. The Tigers have also won four straight meetings against the 2011 Tar Heels and seven of eight meetings from 2002.
But the last two Clemson-North Carolina games – in the 2015 ACC Championship Game and 2019 Regular Season — became instant classics.
In the first game, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson had 420 total yards and five touchdowns as the Tigers beat the Tar Heels 45-37 and started a streak of six straight ACC titles and six straight CFP appearances.
But the victory did not come without controversy. UNC got within eight points of quarterback Marquise Williams’ touchdown pass to receiver Ryan Switzer with 1:13 remaining and then recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Although replays showed a clean recovery, officials flagged the tar heels as offside. UNC had to kick again, and Clemson regained the ball and ran out the clock. Former UNC coach Larry Fedora said after the game that the umpires “missed it. You were wrong. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
In the latter game, Clemson visited UNC as a 27.5-point betting favorite but narrowly escaped with a 21-20 win early in the 2019 season. Hall of Fame coach Mack Brown was in the first season of his second stint at UNC, throwing late and deciding two – and the win – against the nation’s No. 1 team after a late touchdown.
But several Tigers stuffed UNC quarterback Sam Howell on an option run with 1:17 points remaining and retained a one-point win. This was the closest game reigning national champion Clemson played all season before losing to LSU by 17 points in the 2019 national championship game.
Clemson is 7-1 all-time in eight previous ACC championship games, all under Swinney. The Tigers won in 2011 (vs. Virginia Tech), 2015 (UNC), 2016 (Virginia Tech), 2017 (Miami), 2018 (Pittsburgh), 2019 (Virginia) and 2020 (Notre Dame). Her only loss came to Georgia Tech in 2009.
This is the final ACC championship game between the division champions. The conference had had a divisional structure since 2005, but announced over the summer that it would move to a non-divisional format beginning in 2023, reflecting a trend across college football.
Under the ACC’s new format, similar to that followed by the Big 12 and Pac-12, all 14 schools will compete in one division and the top two teams based on conference win percentage will advance to the conference championship game.
2022 ACC Football Championship Game
Who: No. 8 Clemson (10-2, 8-0 ACC) vs. No. 17 North Carolina (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
When: 8 p.m., Saturday 3 December
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte