The Tigers of Death Valley will win the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Monday…We’re just not sure yet if those Tigers are from the bayou or the upstate.
Although both Clemson and LSU missed out on BCS games, their bout in the Chick Fil’ A Bowl is one of the more intriguing and anticipated bowls of year.
The clash of the Tigers will pit one of college football’s top defenses against one of the top offenses and properly bookend the season with a marquee match up.
LSU’s defensive front is strong, deep and physical, and will test Clemson’s ability to execute.
LSU is among the FBS leaders in points allowed (16.9), total yards (297.8), rushing yards (103.1) and pass defense efficiency (103.5).
“Their defense is as good as it gets,” Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney said of the SEC Tigers. “Their defense is built for championships. Their front four is as good as any I’ve seen. They have great cover guys they can match up with you. It will be a very competitive match up for sure.”
The ACC-based Tigers passed for close to 4,000 yards this season and rushed for more than 2,000.
Junior quarterback Tajh Boyd leads the offensive attack and has completed 251-of-377 passes this year for 3,550 yards, 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
He also rushed for 492 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I think he’s a very talented quarterback with a very strong arm,” said LSU Head Coach Les Miles of Boyd. “He has the ability to move his feet, run and extend plays. He was named All-American for a reason, and it’s certainly evident when you watch his film.”
Clemson’s offensive front five will need to play its best game of the season on Monday to win up front and offer Boyd some legitimate protection.
Meanwhile, the Clemson defense will be charged with the task of slowing down LSU’s ground game. The LSU Tigers will line up in the power I and the plan will be to run it down Clemson’s throat. Clemson’s defense has been questionable at times throughout the season and LSU will look to exploit the weaknesses while keeping that high-powered offense off the field.
“LSU’s offensive style of play is different from anybody we’ve seen all year, just because of their physical nature that they have,” said Swinney. “Third-and-10, it doesn’t matter - they’re going to run the power. Or maybe a trick play off the power. It’s just a different style than we see week to week.”
Bottom line: Clemson will need the defense to come up big on Monday to keep LSU’s offense off the field and Boyd and company on. A balanced ground game that involves running back Andre Ellington will help provide some opportunities for Boyd to air it out. Clemson will rely on its dynamic duo of wide receivers Andre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins to come up with big plays.
If Clemson can establish a running game it will set up the passing game and in order to crack one of the nation’s defenses, the Tigers will need to be running on all cylinders Monday.