Texas A&M football is set to complete its home-and-home with Clemson in South Carolina this year; should the champs be three-score favorites?
These articles always feel like they need clarification once you’ve read the title and landed here upon clicking, so here it goes: I am in no way saying Texas A&M football will defeat Clemson on September 7 in South Carolina. I’m not guaranteeing a victory, and I’m not really even guaranteeing the game will be close. Any given Saturday anything can happen.
However, I am definitely saying the betting line for this game should not be three scores. My super-intelligent internet research (read: I am a human in 2019 who can use Google) showed the line for the game is anywhere between -17 and -21 for Clemson. For those who have never seen a betting line before, that means Clemson is favored to win by that many points.
I have to give credit where it’s due. Clemson is an excellent football program led by an excellent head coach. All credit to Nick Saban, but Dabo Swinney is the best coach in college football. Recruiting is absolutely part of the job description, but the sheer amount of talent Saban recruits makes it almost unfair. He should win the championship every year, to be honest. He’s had the top recruiting class just about every year for a decade.
Swinney and the Tigers had maybe the most talented team ever assembled and completed an undefeated season as maybe the greatest team in college football history. If they aren’t, they are definitely in that conversation.
However, what comes with having maybe the most talented team ever is much of that talent moving on to the NFL. Specifically, Clemson had three defensive lineman go in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. They may never have that kind of talent in one unit again. They also have to replace Hunter Renfro and a couple pieces on the offensive line.
Having said that, Clemson will be an elite team again. Their roster isn’t even really the point here. The point is the familiarity Jimbo Fisher has with the program, and the fact the Aggies just about dethroned the kings in Kyle Field last season.
We don’t need to go too much into the game last year. Suffice it to say it came down to a failed two-point conversion to tie the game late in the 28-26 loss, one that featured a botched touchback call on a fumble into the end zone that actually went out before crossing the goal line. The Aggies could have won that game.
Is the home field advantage worth 15-18 points for the odds makers? Maybe it shouldn’t be given Jimbo’s history of playing at Clemson.
Yes, Florida State went 1-3 against the Tigers in their stadium, but all three losses were close, even when Clemson severely outmatched the Seminoles in talent. The 2017 team had no business being on the same field as Clemson but still only lost 31-14. The other loses were by 10 to the No. 1-ranked team in 2015 and by five to No. 21. Fisher also beat the tar off No. 3 Clemson 51-14 in their national championship season.
Fisher is familiar with Clemson. He won’t be intimidated by the atmosphere and will be able to prepare his players who have never made the trip to Memorial Stadium. He proved how much he can adjust on the fly against Brent Venables in the game last year. After being held to just six points in the first half last year, Kellen Mond and the offense was firing on all cylinders in the second half.
Texas A&M will be able to score with the Tigers. Fisher will know exactly what his team is getting into. If I were a betting man, I would take the Aggies and the points all the way to the bank.