Chick-fil-A Bowl Pick – December 31st
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has developed a reputation over the last few years of being one of the best bowl games before New Year’s Day. That continues this year with a matchup between the LSU Tigers and the Clemson Tigers. LSU was here four years ago, and they laid a 38-3 beat down on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets from the ACC. Can LSU beat up on another ACC opponent in this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl?
LSU has generally been well-prepared for bowl games over the last few years. Their loss to Alabama last year was the only game in recent memory where LSU didn’t play well in their final game of the season. The Tigers didn’t live up to expectations this year, and it remains to be seen how motivated they will be for this game. A 10-2 season is very good, but LSU was ranked number one in quite a few preseason polls, so being in this bowl game isn’t exactly what fans had in mind for the end of the year.
It was the LSU offense that let them down this year. Zach Mettenberger never really turned into that star that many thought he would be before the season. He showed flashes of brilliance, but there was no consistency at all. He only threw 11 touchdowns in 12 games, and his completion percentage sat below 60% all year. Five LSU runners have at least 40 carries on the year, and the running game has improved of late. Defensively, LSU isn’t quite as good as last year, but they are very good. LSU’s defense ranked eighth in the nation in total defense, and they only allowed 16.9 points per game.
Clemson was embarrassed 70-33 in last year’s Orange Bowl. The 2012 Clemson Tigers are probably a little better than last year’s team, but they fell a little short of a BCS berth this year. Tajh Boyd doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as a star quarterback for the Tigers offense. Boyd threw 34 touchdowns this year, and he racked up 3,550 yards through the air. His mobility helps keep plays alive, and it gives their talented receivers more time to get open. DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins are two of the best receivers in the country. Hopkins piled up an amazing 16 touchdown receptions this year, and Watkins is a game changer when he touches the ball.
Andre Ellington averaged 5.1 yards per carry for the Clemson offense. Overall, the Tigers put up 42.3 points per game this year. They were one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. Defensively, the Tigers still have some weaknesses. Clemson allowed 411 yards per game. The defense was opportunistic, but giving up that many yards is never a good sign. This unit needs some redemption after giving up 70 points last year to West Virginia.
Free Pick: Over 59
Clemson’s defense still isn’t up to par, and I think LSU could put up quite a few points. Not many teams have shut down this Clemson offense, and I’m not sure LSU can do it either.
LSU 35 Clemson 30