The battle for the Atlantic Coast Conference pits the #9 Clemson Tigers (10-2, 8-0 ACC) against the #23 North Carolina Tar Heels (9-3, 6-2 ACC). Clemson went undefeated in conference play, winning the ACC Atlantic Division, while the Tar Heels sat atop the ACC Coastal Division.
Saturday’s kickoff is at 8 p.m. EST inside Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Clemson is a 7.5-point favorite, and the over/under total is 63.5 points.
What to Know – #9 Clemson Tigers
Clemson was perfect through the first two months of play but stumbled twice down the stretch to all but eliminate itself from the College Football Playoff conversation. Still, the Tigers are vying for their seventh ACC title in eight seasons and a trip to a New Year’s Six Bowl.
Junior quarterback DJ Uiagalelei started the season slow, even getting benched for freshman Cade Klubnick against Syracuse in October. Uiagalelei’s numbers aren’t all bad, completing 62.4% of his passes for 2,511 yards and adding 545 yards on the ground. He has 22 passing touchdowns and seven rushing TDs in 2022.
Running back Will Shipley eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his sophomore season, rushing for 1,092 yards. Shipley averaged 5.9 yards per touch, scoring 14 times. Backups Phil Mafah and Kobe Pace each added three scores apiece.
Four receivers hauled in four touchdowns or more for the Tigers. Beaux Collins led Clemson with five scores, while Antonio Williams led the team in receptions (50) and yards (523).
What to Know – #23 North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels turned around a 6-7 season last year to earn a trip to the title game for the second time in program history. North Carolina comes in dropping its last two games of the season, both losses by single digits.
Drake Maye made a strong case for Heisman votes in his freshman season, throwing for 3,847 yards and 35 touchdowns. Maye completed 67.7% of his throws and led the team in rushing with 629 yards and six scores.
Elijah Green and Omarion Hampton split carries out the backfield for the Tar Heels. Green led the way, rushing 93 times for 443 yards and a team-high eight scores. Hampton tallied 396 yards and six TDs on 85 touches.
Junior wideout Josh Downs will garner end-of-year honors after his 2022 performance. Downs was Maye’s favorite target, hauling in 83 receptions for 929 yards and 11 scores. Antoine Green was next in line with 38 receptions, 745 yards, and seven TDs.
The Pick is In
The ACC title game is sure to be an offensive slugfest, with two powerful offenses going toe-to-toe in Charlotte. Expect a high-scorer affair with a handful of big plays from both sides.
Clemson’s loss to South Carolina dashed its playoff hopes, but defeat might have been a blessing in disguise for the Tigers, who will lean on their talented defensive front to create enough problems for Maye and outshoot the Tar Heels.
The Pick: #9 Clemson Tigers -7.5