Advanced outlook: Clemson-Boston College projections


by - Staff Writer -
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Travis Etienne has punched in a number of scores in an ultra-efficient Clemson red zone offense.
Travis Etienne has punched in a number of scores in an ultra-efficient Clemson red zone offense.

Clemson’s championship phase will follow a certain formula on the road to another College Football Playoff run: the Tigers as a heavy favorite.

The Tigers opened with a 17.5-point edge in a key divisional matchup at Boston College Saturday and that moved quickly to 20 points early in the week. SB Nation’s S&P+ formula projects Clemson as at least an 18-point favorite versus the final three regular-season opponents in Boston College, Duke and South Carolina.

If those results hold as projected, Clemson is then at least a 25-point favorite against potential Coastal ACC Championship foes Virginia (25), Virginia Tech (27) or Pittsburgh (29).

This weekend’s matchup features a Boston College team with a solid defense and an average-but-unique offense in efficiency.

With an offense rated No. 4 in adjusted pace, BC ranks 11th in run rate on standard downs* (72.1) - 8th nationally overall in run attempts - and 72nd in run rate on passing downs (33.3). The efficiency hasn’t exactly followed there, however, ranking 81st (S&P+) and 92nd in runs stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage (20.8).

This week’s projections tend the favor the home side with the Vegas line but still see a comfortable Clemson win. The Football Outsiders’ metrics see dual 18-point wins with the S&P+ taking the Tigers, 35-17, and the FEI picking Clemson, 34-16. ESPN-affiliated TeamRankings is on a similar track, 38-20, and numberFire sees a much closer affair, 36-25.

Advanced metrics profile

Clemson
ESPN efficiency rank: Offense – 7. Defense – 1. Special teams – 109.
Football Outsiders efficiency rank (S&P+): Offense – 7. Defense – 2. Special teams – 70.
Success rate#: Offense – 8 (50.8). Defense – 1 (29.5).
Boston College
ESPN efficiency rank: Offense – 50. Defense – 21. Special teams – 45.
Football outsiders efficiency rank (S&P+): Offense – 65. Defense – 28. Special teams – 79.
Success rate: Offense – 81 (41). Defense – 45 (39.3).

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Clemson’s efficiency in rushing defense should factor heavily Saturday.

Brent Venables’ group is in the top-five in five key stats tracked by SB Nation: No. 1 in S&P+ rushing defense, No. 2 in rushing efficiency defense, No. 3 in rushing explosiveness defense, No. 2 in run opportunity rate^ defense and No. 3 in opposing run stuff rate.

Key to Clemson’s 51-point average margin of victory in the last four games has been exceptional efficiency in the red zone.

They are now in the top-10 in points per scoring opportunity on offense (8th; 5.47) and defense (2nd; 2.95) - also No. 8 in red zone touchdown percentage (77.8) and 14th on defense there (47.8).

In the four-game stretch, the Clemson offense has 23 scores in 25 red zone chances and 20 of those have been touchdowns. The Tigers defense has only allowed two red zone trips a game in the run with less than a TD per contest allowed (0.75).

Boston College counters with an efficient red-zone attack, ranking 19th in TD percentage (73.5) and 31st overall (88.2) on offense and 12th on defense (72.7) - struggling more in TDs allowed inside the 20 (77th; 63.6).

Metrics outlook: Clemson-BC
SBN: Clemson 35-17
FEI: Clemson 34-16
TeamRankings: Clemson 38-20
numberFire: Clemson 36-25

(S&P+ is a SB Nation/Football Outsiders metric that combines ratings for the five factors of efficiency, explosiveness, field position, finishing drives and turnovers.
# Success rate is determined by gaining 50 percent of the necessary yardage on first down, 70 percent on second down and 100 percent on third and fourth down.
* Passing downs are defined as second down with eight or more yards to go or third or fourth down with five or more yards to go. All other situations are “standard” downs.
^ Percentage of carries in which the offensive line is able to produce at least five yards for a carrier to rush the ball.)

Tags: Brent Venables
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