Scott Fowler

Clemson-UNC game is what ACC championship should be

Scott Fowler says: For my money, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, above, and UNC’s Marquise Williams, center, have been the ACC’s best two players all season.
Scott Fowler says: For my money, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, above, and UNC’s Marquise Williams, center, have been the ACC’s best two players all season. AP

When folks around here think of the number 23, they often start thinking about basketball great Michael Jordan.

I am thinking about 23 for a different reason today, however: That s the number of wins Clemson (12-0) and North Carolina (11-1) have combined for entering this ACC title game.

It’s a staggering number for an ACC championship game and, not surprisingly, the most in the 11-year history of the contest. Other than North Carolina’s nasty stumble in the season opener against a bad South Carolina team, these two squads have been perfect.

▪  For some fans, Saturday night will be a rowdy celebration. For others, it’s just going to be cold. If you are going, bundle up. The 8 p.m. kickoff means the temperature will hover around the low 30s for much of the night.

▪  My over-under on the exact time this game finishes is 11:40 p.m. These two teams run so many plays – and I expect so much scoring – that a tidy three-hour game is out of the question.

▪  For my money, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and UNC’s Marquise Williams have been the ACC’s best two players all season. To watch those quarterbacks alternate possessions in a game that will decide the 2015 ACC championship is a thrilling opportunity.

▪  OK, prediction time. In 2014, Clemson beat UNC 50-35, back when the Tar Heels hadn’t hired Gene Chizik as their defensive coordinator and didn’t have a clue about how to play defense. Almost forgotten about that game – UNC also was penalized 15 times for 130 yards. The Tar Heels didn’t play well and weren’t smart about it, either.

UNC will be better, and I don’t expect a Clemson blowout because the Tar Heels can score, too. But Clemson is No. 1 in the country for a reason, and ultimately I think there’s a little more talent on that side of the ball. My pick: Clemson 37, UNC 30.

Fowler: sfowler@charlotteobserver.com; Twitter: @scott_fowler

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