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Clemson vs. Tennessee picks and best bets for Orange Bowl

The Tigers and Vols meet in the Orangest Bowl in sports history.

Syndication: The Greenville News Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Clemson Tigers and Tennessee Volunteers meet up in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on Friday, December 30 in Miami Gardens, Florida. The game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET, and will air on ESPN.

Clemson (11-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast) had another double-digit win season under head coach Dabo Swinney, their 12th consecutive season of 10+ wins and an eighth ACC championship. Losses to Notre Dame and South Carolina kept the Tigers out of the playoff, but the next era in Clemson began when young quarterback Cade Klubnik led the Tigers past North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game.

The Tigers will be without several players who have opted out or have injuries, but that just leaves room for young talent to emerge. Running back Will Shipley will also be in the lineup and is coming off of a season with over 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Tennessee (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern) was the No. 1 team in the nation for a short period of time and earned an amazing 52-49 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier in the season. But losses to the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks eliminated the Volunteers from playoff contention. An ACL injury to quarterback Hendon Hooker made the matters worse.

The Volunteers have a ton of players opting out on offense and that will lead to quite the challenge for backup quarterback Joe Milton. He will have wide receiver Bru McCoy to throw to after McCoy confirmed he will be returning for next season.

Current lines at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Clemson -6
Total: 63
Moneyline: Clemson -210, Tennessee +180

Opening line: Clemson -6.5
Opening total: 63.5

Key players that have opted-out, injuries for Orange Bowl


Myles Murphy, DE (Opt-out)
D.J. Uiagalelei, QB (Transfer portal)
Decari Collins, WR (Transfer portal)
Sergio Allen, LB (Transfer portal)
Fred Davis II, DB (Transfer portal)
E.J. Williams, WR (Transfer portal)
Kobe Pace, RB (Transfer portal)
Vonta Bentley, LB (Transfer portal)
Beaux Collins, WR (Injury)


Jalin Hyatt, WR (Opt-out)
Cedric Tillman, WR (Opt-out)
Hendon Hooker, QB (injury)
Lyn-J Dixon, RB (Transfer portal)
Nick Evers, QB (Transfer portal)
Jimmy Calloway, WR (Transfer portal)


Partly cloudy skies with a game-time temperature of 76 degrees and less than a 20 percent chance of rain. Winds will be at 5-10 MPH out of the southeast.

The Pick

Clemson -6

Both teams come into the game with a lot of opt-outs and injuries, but this is still a highly intriguing matchup between two programs that expect to challenge for the playoff in 2023. Clemson probably has the better overall roster right now and the addition of Klubnik to the starting lineup is one that should motivate the Tigers to play their best game and get a big win to start the train rolling for next season.