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Clemson at Duke: Our Best Bet for Monday, September 4

Nicholas Berault
Written by Nicholas Berault
August 31, 2023
Clemson at Duke Our Best Bet for Monday, September 4

Monday Night Football typically doesn’t involve two ACC teams, which makes this weekend so great. Five consecutive nights of college football games kick off Thursday with the Florida-Utah matchup we covered here, and the marathon wraps up with an in-conference matchup between the Clemson Tigers and Duke Blue Devils.

Clemson’s ascent to the sport's peak was capped off with national championships in 2016 and 2018, but the Tigers find themselves coming off back-to-back three-loss seasons for the first time since 2010-11. Coach Dabo Swinney was in his second and third years as the man in charge back then, and he’s now attempting to steady the program after missing the College Football Playoff a couple times in a row.

The Tigers lost to Notre Dame for the second time in three meetings, dropped their in-state rivalry game to the South Carolina Gamecocks for the first time since 2013, and were drubbed in the Orange Bowl by Tennessee last season.

Conversely, Duke’s 2022 season was their best since 2014. The Blue Devils went 9-4 under first-year head coach Mike Elko and ranked in the top 35 of scoring offense and defense during their renaissance year.

Quarterback Riley Leonard gives the team a versatile leader who can beat defenses with his arm and legs, and facing Clemson’s defense will be a great test of how far the program has come. These two opponents haven't played since 2018 and have only faced each other twice since 2009.

Clemson on the road is favored by 13, up from 11.5 at the open. The point total has shrunk from 58 to 55.5, which makes sense given the new starting quarterback for the Tigers and the challenge their defense poses to the Blue Devils scoring hopes.

Kickoff will be at 8 pm ET from Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC, and we’ve got our best bet ready for the final game of Week 1.

Best Bet: UNDER 56

This number may rise toward the opening offer of 58 as kickoff gets closer in this matchup. Similar to the late-night chase of a Hawaii game during most of the season, all eyes will be on this matchup Sunday night, and that attention typically brings public money on the over along with it.

Our main question is: What kind of quarterback will Cade Klubnik be for Clemson? The team won national titles with Pro Bowl QBs before experiencing their slight downturn, and Klubnick has the weight of a hungry fanbase on his shoulders after taking the job from DJ Uiagalelei. Duke’s 32nd-ranked scoring defense from a season ago was more vulnerable through the air, so Klubnik has an opportunity to start this campaign strong.

Duke’s Riley Leonard popped up on Mel Kiper’s NFL Big Board this week, and Kiper noted that the talented prospect who showed promise in 2022 should take a step forward this year. The one supplement he made to that argument was that he may not show that progress against a stingy Clemson defense, and we expect this will be a tougher night for Leonard.

The Tigers should win this matchup, but we’re more confident about the sum of both team’s efforts remaining under this total than taking the spread. If you can wait to bet it, it might be worth it. Otherwise, lock in the under at 56 and tune in on Monday night.

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